Weihnachtsbockbier, Festbier, Starkbier
Pronunciation guide for English-speakers:
"veye-nuchts-beer" (never prounounce the "ch"
like a "k," but rather like the "ch" in Rachmaninov,
the name of the Russian composer, or Bach, the name of the German composer)
"Weihnachten" is German for Christmas,
and Weihnachtsbier is the Bavarian seasonal specialty, a strong brew for
when the days get shorter and the temperature plummets. Towards the end
of November, the weather in this part of Germany often takes a quick turn
for the worse in Bavaria, and out comes the Weinachtsbier, reserved for
those times when the body needs more than a good quaff, when it needs
real nourishment. In Bavaria, winter is Starkbierzeit
(stong beer time). While "normal" blond lagers have an alcohol-by-volume
level of about 4.5 to 5%, the "mildest" Weihnachtsbiers start
at around 6% alcohol, while the strongest may pack as much as 8%.
with the first fresh malt and hops of the fall harvest, Weihnachtsbier
makes its first appearance in the annual southern German beer cycle no
later than the beginning of Advent, four weeks before Christmas.
By then, open-air Christmas
markets are already crowded with busy shoppers, who, after a frigid day
of buying Christmas gifts and tree ornaments might head for an adjacent
beer hall to thaw out with a Weihnachtsbier,
the perfect winter belly warmer.
As Christmas approaches and
spirits rise, brewers craft ever stronger Weihnachtsbiers, usually reaching
about 7 or 8% alcohol by volume. These are often called Weihnachtsbockbier
(Christmas bock beer) or Festbier (fest beer), or just Starkbier (strong
beer). In color, all Weinachtsbiers tend to be dark amber to hazelnut
brown. Weihnachtsbiers go exceptionally well with sweets, desserts, and
cockiesespecially the spiced gingerbreads of Christmas.
Related beer styles: