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04-10-2017, 18:33
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It’s odd how often I forget one type of German top-fermenting beer: Bavarian Weissbier. Especially as it’s by far the most popular sort.

Maybe it’s because it comes from the South, which I associate with Lager brewing. Whatever the reason, it is a little strange. Time to put that right.

Searching through my various spreadsheets, I see that I’ve a rather limited number of analyses of this type of wheat beer. I suppose I shouldn’t be that surprised. This type Weissbier was quite obscure in the 19th century, produced by a small number of breweries in pretty small quantities. It’s only in the last 30 years of so that the style has been available throughout Germany.

It also used to be exclusively brewed by specialist outfits. Now a large percentage of Bavarian breweries, ones that originally only brewed bottom-fermenting beers. It’s simple economics. The market for Weissbier has been expanding and brewers don’t want to miss out. Weissbier’s share rose from less than 2% in 1981 to almost 8% in 2010. In the southern States, Baden Württemberg and Bavaria, the market share is more than double that.



German beer sales by type 1981 - 2010


Beer type
1981
1989
1994
2000
2003
2005
2008
2010


Pils
48.5
57.5
66
67.9
62
57.9
55.2
55.1


Export/Edel/Spezial
20.8
10.9
9.7
9
9.6
10.4
9.8
9.8


Weizen
1.4
4.9
4.8
5.7
7.1
7.9
8.3
7.9


Sources:


Brauwelt Brevier 2003


Deutscher Brauer-Bund, Bonn


Brauwelt nr. 46-47 (2006) page 1431



Here are the few analyses from the 19th century that I have:



Bavarian Weissbier 1866 - 1899


Year
Brewer
Town
Beer
OG Plato
OG
FG
ABV
App. Atten-uation
Acidity


1866
Unknown
Munich
Weissbier
11.62
1046.6
1012.9
4.38
72.32%



1888
Röckl
Munich
Weissbier
12.38
1049.8
1014
4.65
71.89%
0.158


1888
Schneider
Munich
Weissbier
12.52
1050.4
1015.9
4.46
68.45%
0.171


1888
Schramm
Munich
Weissbier
12.99
1052.4
1016.2
4.69
69.08%
0.149


1899
Unknown
Munich
Weissbier
12.59
1050.7
1016.4
4.44
67.65%




Average


12.42
1050.0
1015.1
4.52
69.88%
0.159


Source:


König, J (1903), Bier in Chemie der menschlichen Nahrungs- und Genussmittel by Joseph König, 1903, pp 1101 - 1156, Julius Springer, Berlin.



What can we learn from that? The OGs are pretty low, as is the rate of attenuation. But how they compare to today? Let’s take a look:



Bavarian Hefeweizen in 2014


Brewer
Town
Beer
OG Plato
OG
FG
ABV
App. Atten-uation


Ammerndorfer Bier Dorn Bräu
Ammerndorf
Hefe Weisse
13.2
1053.3
1014
5.10
73.72%


Hermann Sigwart
Weißenburg
Kirchweihweizen
13.2
1053.3
1011.1
5.50
79.17%


Hermann Sigwart
Weißenburg
Weißenburger Weiße
12.9
1052.0
1012.8
5.10
75.39%


Göller
Zeil am Main
Steinhauer Weisse
12.8
1051.6
1010.2
5.40
80.32%


Püls-bräu
Stadtsteinach
Weismainer Weisse
12.8
1051.6
1011.6
5.20
77.51%


Brauerei Kanone Löhr
Schnaittach
Weizen (hell)
12.8
1051.6
1013.9
4.90
73.15%


Weihenstephan
Freising
Hefeweissbier Leicht
12.7
1051.2
1010.5
5.30
79.48%


Arnsteiner Brauerei
Seinsheim
Hefe-Weissbier
12.7
1051.2
1012.7
5.00
75.18%


Kulmbacher Brauerei
Kulmbach
Hefeweissbier Leicht
12.7
1051.2
1010.5
5.30
79.48%


Kitzmann-Bräu
Erlangen
Weißbier
12.6
1050.7
1007.9
5.60
84.53%


Paulaner
Munich
Hefe-Weißbier Naturtrüb
12.5
1050.3
1008.2
5.50
83.70%


Hacker-Pschorr
Munich
Hefe Weisse
12.5
1050.3
1008.2
5.50
83.70%


Hacker-Pschorr
Munich
Sternweisse
12.5
1050.3
1008.2
5.50
83.70%


Klosterbrauerei Andechs
Andechs
Weissbier Hell
12.5
1050.3
1008.2
5.50
83.70%


Göller
Zeil am Main
Kaiser Heinrich Urweisse hell
12.5
1050.3
1010.4
5.20
79.43%


Distelhäuser
Tauberbischofsheim
Hefeweizen
12.5
1050.3
1008.9
5.40
82.31%


Brauhaus Leikeim
Altenkunstadt
Steinweisse
12.5
1050.3
1008.2
5.50
83.70%


Brauerei Reblitz
Bad Staffelstein
Nedensdorfer Hefeweizen
12.5
1050.3
1012.6
4.90
74.96%


Hermann Sigwart
Weißenburg
Hefe-Weizen
12.5
1050.3
1012.6
4.90
74.96%


Bürgerbräu Hersbruck
Hersbruck
Albweizen
12.5
1050.3
1011.1
5.10
77.94%


Brauerei Hofmann
Pahres
Weißbier
12.4
1049.9
1010
5.20
79.96%


Brauhaus Leikeim
Altenkunstadt
Helle Weiße
12.3
1049.5
1008.1
5.40
83.63%


Pyraser Landbrauerei
Thalmässing
Angerwirts Weizen
12.2
1049.1
1009.2
5.20
81.35%


Albertshöfer Sternbräu
Albertshofen
Weizenbier
12.1
1048.6
1010.2
5.00
79.03%


Privatbrauerei Kesselring
Marktsteft
Schlemmer Weißbier
12
1048.2
1007.6
5.30
84.24%


Braugasthof Grosch
Rödental
Grosch Weissbier
12
1048.2
1009.8
5.00
79.67%


Löwenbräu
Munich
Weisse
11.8
1047.4
1007.5
5.20
84.17%


Wolf
Zeil am Main
Land Weisse
11.6
1046.5
1008.2
5.00
82.38%


Zum Löwenbräu Flair Hotel
Adelsdorf
Aischgründer Karpfen-Weisse
12.9
1052.0
1011.3
5.30
78.27%



Average

12.5
1050.3
1010.1
5.24
79.96%


Sources:


The relevant brewery websites



Now isn’t that interesting? The average OG is almost identical. You couldn’t say that about many styles when comparing the 19th century to today. But the big difference in the rate of attenuation means that modern versions 0.75% ABV stronger on average. That isn’t a surprise. One of the biggest changes in German beer is the increased rate of attenuation.

In many styles this has been accompanied by a drop in OG. If you look at Pils, the rate of attenuation has increased, but the ABV has remained the same. With the system in place in Germany, where the tax is calculated on the OG of the beer, there’s a financial incentive to keep the OG as low as you can. No surprise that that’s exactly what breweries have done.

Weizenbock next.

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