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German-Style Altbier

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Location: German
Category: Ale
BJCP Comparable Category: 7B - Altbier

Style Description

This is the description of how the German-Style Altbier style of beer should taste, feel and look. However, there may be perfectly fine beers in this style that fall outside of these ranges and descriptions. This information is just to show the most commonly accepted ranges for the German-Style Altbier beer style.

The Altbier style is originally from the Dusseldorf area. The overall impression is clean, crisp and flavorful with a dry finish.

  • Color: Copper to dark brown
  • Body: Medium-low to medium.
  • Malt Flavors & Aromas: A variety of malts contributes to medium-low to medium malt aroma and flavor. Toast aroma typical of Munich malts should be present. Slight nuttiness is acceptable. Roast malt character should be present at low levels and well-integrated with the overall malt profile. Smoke character should not be present.
  • Hop Flavors & Aromas: Low to medium with hop flavor more perceptible than aroma, with attributes typical of traditional German noble hops.
  • IBUs/Bitterness: Medium to high, producing a clean dry finish. Forty-plus IBU is typical for Altbiers originating in Dusseldorf.
  • Fermentation Characteristics: Fruity esters are absent to low, with attributes expressed subtly as citrus, pear, dark cherry or plum. A slight sulphur aroma is acceptable. Diacetyl should not be present.
  • Common Ingredients: Grists vary, but usually consist of German base malts (usually Pils, sometimes Munich) with small amounts of crystal, chocolate, and/or black malts used to adjust color. Occasionally will include some wheat, including roasted wheat. Spalt hops are traditional, but other Saazer-type hops can also be used. Clean, highly attenuative ale yeast. A step mash or decoction mash program is traditional.
  • Commercial Examples: Bolten Alt, Diebels Alt, Füchschen Alt, Original Schlüssel Alt, Schlösser Alt, Schumacher Alt, Uerige Altbier

Brewing Properties of German-Style Altbier

These are the functional brewing properties of German-Style Altbier beers, as descided by the Brewers Association. These guidelines reflect, as accurately as possible, the historical significance, authenticity or a common profile in the current commercial beer market.

The alcohol by volume is shows the amount of alcohol this style of beer should have.
4.6 - 5.6%
The International Bittering Units (IBU) scale is used to approximately quantify the actual (not perceived) bitterness of beer.
25 - 52 IBUs
SRM is a scale for measuring the color intensity of a beer. Low SRM grains impart a pale straw color while higher values mean it will add a darker color to the wort. Learn more »
11 - 19 SRM
(22 - 37 EBC)
Original Gravity
Original Gravity (OG) is a measure of the sugar content in the wort before alcoholic fermentation has started to produce the beer.
1.044 - 1.052
Final Gravity
The Final Gravity (FG) is how much sugar is left over in the beer when fermentation is complete.
1.008 - 1.014

If you see an error in our data, please let us know!

Based on Brewers Association 2020 Beer Style Guidelines with changes. Used with permission of Brewers Association.