Germany’s Dark Beer History

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February 10, 2014 by Prost Brewing

Dark Beer in Summer

The dark tale of German beer begins with dark ales, not the blond lagers which today are so commonly associated with German beer. For a grand total of 3,000 years the Germans have been brewing ales. In fact, it was not until the 16th century, around the time that Christopher Columbus was making his voyages to America, that Germans began brewing something other than dark ales in the form of brown lagers.

Thus, brown lagers such as the now well-known Dunkelbier have only been in the German beer lineup for five centuries. Still, beer remained rather dark until the 19th century. It may be surprising to many to hear that the crisp and clean tasting blond lagers did not make their debut until around 150 years ago! This includes what is today considered to be the mother of all modern lagers, the Pilsner, that originated in the city of Pilsen in 1842, a year that is considered to be relatively recent in terms of Germany’s ancient beer history.

At this point, you may be asking why it took so long for the Germans to create a light-colored brew. Why the preference for dark colored beer? In line with Germany’s more practical culture, this was not a matter of pure aesthetics. This was rather a matter of technology. The kilning techniques of the time used for drying malted grain always resulted in a slightly scorched malt, ultimately leading to the production of dark beers only. With new technology, Germany’s centuries long tradition of only dark beer came to an end, officially making their dark beer history a thing of the past. Blond lagers were introduced taking center stage almost immediately, quickly becoming a worldwide staple beer.

Thus, the history of German beer may have begun quite dark but has a lighter, perhaps even slightly golden-hued finish. Of course, the German brewing traditions are still alive and anything but static so that the history of German bier is still being written. Who knows what new innovations await and what new pleasures for German beer lovers are yet to be had.

Every time you come to Prost Brewing, you are not only tasting a piece of history, but are also subject to history in the making. Come to Prost Brewing’s authentic German bier hall to taste anything and everything from the most ancient dark German beer to be found this side of the Atlantic to the most modern German blond lager made using the most up-to-date technology. Dark or light, ancient or modern, at Prost you can rest assured that you are tasting an authentic taste of Germany.

Prost Brewing Beer Tasting

Prost Brewing Beer Tasting


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