Pronunciation guide for
Literally "cellar beer," this is an unfiltered lager, usually
strongly flavored with aromatic hops. Kellerbiers come in a wide range
of strengths, but they are often brewed to an Okoberfestbier-Märzenbier
strength of about 5 to 5.3% alcohol by volume. More often than not, a
Kellerbier is deep amber in color, perhaps with a reddish tinge, as a
result of a good addition of slightly caramelized malt (called Munich
malt) to the grain bill. Authentic
Kellerbiers have very little effervescence, because they are typically
served "ungespunded" (unbunged) meaning they are matured in
wodden casks with the yeast still active, but with the bung ("Spund"
in German) not tightened. As the yeast ferments the remaining sugars in
the brew and converts these into additional carbon dioxide gas, the gas
is allowed to escape through the bung hole ("Spundloch"). When
tapped under just atmospheric pressure, a traditional Kellerbier is very
and has next to no head because of the lack of carbonation.
It finishes very dry with both noticeable hop and malt notes in balance.
Kellerbiers are great as aperitifs served before dinner to stimulate the
appetite. This unpasteurized brew originates with the small artisanal
breweries of Franconia, where Kellerbier is still a favorite beverage
in the local beer gardens. It is usually drunk out of earthenware rather
than glass mugs.
Most Kellerbiers are served
only locally, right out of the casks in which they are allowed to age.
For transport to more distant markets, however,
several Kellerbier brands are available in bottles and kegs. Kellerbier
intended for packaging is usually aged in uncapped steel tanks. It may
be mildly filtered before the filling process to remove some of the beer's
natural cloudiness, and it may be artifically carbonated for just a touch
of effervescence. Perhaps the most readily available bottled Kellerbier
in the United States is the St.
Georgen Bräu Kellerbier from the small Franconian village
of Buttenheim, sightly south of Bamberg. The St. Georgen Brewery has been
in the same family since 1624. Its Kellerbier is aged in sturdy unbunged
oak casks in rock caverns right outside the village, the way it was always
done in the old days, before the invention of refrigeration.
Related beer styles: