Kellerbier, Zwickelbier, Zoigl
Pronunciation guide for
"Tzoy-gel-beer" ("oy" as in "boy" and "gel"
as in the last syllable of "bagel")
Zoiglbier is essentially an effervescent form of a Bavarian Kellerbier
(see there), but brewed from more highly kilned malt, which gives the
beer a slightly darker, deep amber, color. It is also less hop-accented.
Its alcohol content by volume is usually below 5%. The name Zoiglbier
stems from "Zoigl," the Franconian vernacular for "sign."
In Franconian home brewing, a Zoigl was a six-pointed blue-white star,
shaped from two triangles similar to a Star of David. The star was made
from wooden slats. In the center was a cutout of a beer mug or a pine
branch. In the feudal system of the 13th and 14th centuries, every Bavarian
home- and landowner in the region north of the River Danube also automatically
owned the right to brew beer, and these medieval burghers and farmers
used to hang the Zoigl in front of their
doors wheneverthey had homebrew ready to drink. The Zoigl was in invitation
to their neighbors to come over and have a few. These early burgher-brewers
often also made their Zoiglbier in communal brew houses...a natural precursor
to the brew's communal consumption under the Zoigl.
One triangle of the Zoigl
symbolized the three "elements" involved in brewing: fire, water
and air; the other symbolized the three "ingredients" used in
brewing: malt, hops and water. The function of yeast had not yet been
discovered in the Middle Ages. Rather yeast was considered a byproduct
of fermentation, known as "stuff" ("Zeug" in German)
to be discarded.
Nowadays, Zoiglbier is brewed
exclusively with noble hops from the Hallertau region of Bavaria (slightly
north of the Danube). Like Kellerbier, Zoiglbier is unfiltered, unpasteurized,
uncapped ("ungespundet"), and low in carbonation; but unlike
Kellerbier, it is aged for only of few weeks, before it is served. It
tends to have a shorter shelflife than Kellerbier and is generally not
sold outside Bavaria. Several breweries nowadays package their Zoiglbier
in bottles and kegs, in which case the beer tends to be slightly carbonated.