The history of Kellerbier dates to the Middle Ages, and it is a lager style that remains popular with craft brewers and select breweries today. This Germanic invention is not only deliciously refreshing but has plenty of vitamins too, thanks to the yeast which gives it a cloudy appearance.
If you’ve never tried one, then read on to discover what its appeal is.
What is Kellerbier?
Translated to Cellar Beer, Kellerbier is a Germanic lager that stretches back through the ages to a time when beer making needed to be done in the cooler months – or else kept underground to keep the cask brewing temperatures cool.
The resulting beer has an amber to red appearance and is what is known as naturtrüb (naturally cloudy). There is some debate whether Kellerbier is a beer in its own right, or is merely a serving style, but we think it’s best considered as both!
What Is The History Of Kellerbier?
Kellerbier dates back to the Franconian region of Germany and is assumed to have come about during the Middle Ages. Due to the heat of summer being quite repressive and leading to the souring of beer, laws were passed that the last beer-making for the season should be done in spring – thereafter, beers were left to ferment in caves and underground cellars.
The brewers would then check on their lagering lagern (Germanic for stored) brews, to check in on the slow maturation cycles. It could take up to three months before the lagers were ready – and when deemed ‘done’ by brewmasters, the final Kellerbier would be served straight out of the barrel it was brewed within.
How Do You Pronounce Kellerbier?
Kellerbier is pronounced – KELLer – Beer.
How Is Kellerbier Made?
The style of Kellerbier is the traditional technique of cold-fermenting beer in cellars or caves, from a bottom fermented process. The vented casks are left to cold ferment for months until the second fermentation was ending. Only then is the barrel corked.
As no filtering is done on the beer within, the brewing by-products, yeast and other nutrients are still present. In fact, many believe that if the Kellerbier is left to ferment further, it would become a Helles Lager or even a Märzen beer.
How Is Kellerbier Different From Zwikelbier? From Gose?
While Kellerbier is kept open throughout the brewing process to avoid carbonation, Zwickelbier is a sub-style of Kellerbier that is sealed up before fermentation has begun which allows for some carbonation of the brew. It too is served from the cask once the yeast has finished up and typically has a darker appearance and a more hoppy taste.
It is named for the Zwickel – a German syphon used throughout the brewing process.
When it comes to telling Kellerbier apart from other styles, like Gose, it must be noted that the brewing process and flavours are vastly different. Gose is typically a kettle sour wheat beer. It is a warm fermented beer, while Kellerbier is a cold ferment, and Gose also contains the addition of Lactobacillus bacteria which give it the characteristic lemon-like sourness to it. Kellerbier usually has more of a sweet and malty taste, along with a smooth mouthfeel.
What Does Cellar Beer Taste Like?
While Kellerbiers differ in tastes and flavours, they’re usually creamy, with a light apple after-taste thanks to the acetaldehyde that occurs due to the yeast fermenting. Diacetyl adds a buttery smoothness to the beer. While in most beers these two characteristics are considered to be a drawback, in Kellerbier, they’ve become a mark of authenticity. Other tastes include sourdough thanks to the malt, while a touch of peppery bitterness is likely to linger thanks to the hops.
How Do You Serve Kellerbier?
When Kellerbier is served, it is traditionally done so out of the cask or barrel that the brew was originally lagered in. If you’re consuming it at home, then an earthenware mug or tankard is appropriate.
What Are The 5 Best Kellerbiers To Try Right Now?
- Grevensteiner Original Naturtrübes Landbier by Brauerei VELTINS has a 5.2% alcohol volume and scores a 23 on the international bitterness scale. The cloudy dark gold kettlebier offers an earthy taste and malty finish with low bitterness and hints of sweetness.
- Föhn by Fox Farm Brewery is a top choice for Kellerbier. It offers a 5.6% alcohol rating and offers a low IBU. The golden hued body and herb and pepper aroma combine with a medium body and plenty of flavour.
- Aktien Zwick’l Kellerbier by Bayreuther Bierbrauerei offers a 5.3% alcohol volume and an 18 IBU rating. It has a dark copper body, with a sweet malty aroma. Medium body and dry finish.
Mönchsambacher Lager by Brauerei Zehendner GmbH offers a 5.5% alcohol volume. It has a cloudy gold, with a subtle flavour, the creamy breadiness of this Kettlebier combines with wheaty flavours and floral, zesty notes. It finishes with a Saison punchiness.
- State Pils by Suarez Family Brewery is a 4.7% alcohol volume beer found in New York and available for sale in cans. Straw gold is the main colour, and it has a strong lemon presence, along with sweet dough, herbs, and a spicy hop finish.
What Is The Most Popular Kellerbier Brand In The World?
Over at Beer Advocate the current world favourite Kellerbier brand is Mönchsambacher Lager by Brauerei Zehendner GmbH.
What Foods Can You Pair With Kellerbier?
Kellerbier typically pairs well with a variety of dishes, due to the many nuanced flavours and notes the beer presents. Everything from Mexican food to chicken and grilled steak or Bratwurst and mustard suits it. For desserts, gingerbread or spice cookies will be perfectly complemented with a Kellerbier.
While we have yet to find a Kellerbier around our parts, we can’t wait to get our hands on one to discover the many cascading notes that create such a harmonic lager.
Jake has been a craft beer and homebrew enthusiast since his college days. He loves scouring Europe for unique and unusual hops to add to his beers.
Founder of Jake’s Brew Haven – he currently hosts beer-tasting sessions at select local pubs in Baltimore.
Jump To a Section Below
- What is Kellerbier?
- What Is The History Of Kellerbier?
- How Do You Pronounce Kellerbier?
- How Is Kellerbier Made?
- How Is Kellerbier Different From Zwikelbier? From Gose?
- What Does Cellar Beer Taste Like?
- How Do You Serve Kellerbier?
- What Are The 5 Best Kellerbiers To Try Right Now?
- What Is The Most Popular Kellerbier Brand In The World?
- What Foods Can You Pair With Kellerbier?