Time to look at German Ales. Sorry, German top-fermenting beers. The period I've chosen is when most of them began their dash to extinction. Very few of the styles listed still exist. Those that do won't require a second had to count all the examples.
What are the common characteristics of many traditional German top-fermenting styles? Low ABV and high level of acidity. That about sums them up. A beer like Berliner Weisse, nowadays at the extreme low end of ABV and extreme high end of acidity, was a fairly run-of-the-mill beer 150 years ago.
Many of those listed above would nowadays barely qualify as beer because of their minimal alcohol content. In fact, the Gose aside, I doubt any of them could get you very intoxicated. It's no wonder North Germans were prepared to pay more for Bayerisches Lagerbier with 4-5% ABV.
The contrast with British Ales of the same period is striking. These range from 5% to over 10% ABV.
But the story is more complicated than that. At the same time there were top-fermenting beers - such as Mumme ot Adambier - with massive OG's. Though, as in the case of Mumme, this didn't necessarily a mean a high ABV.
Adambier sounds impressive. I know at least one brewer in the States has had a go at it.
Blog, Pod, and Video - Patrick and I were invited to discuss beer on a local TV station on Monday--in part because of our illustrious Beervana Podcast. Which, serendipitously, I ...
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