South Tyrolean beers
Variety and brewing
South Tyrol has awide variety of beers: from delicate light beer to the strong beers popular during Lent. Speciality beers are also brewed during specific seasons. The addition of herbs and spices gives the beer a unique aroma. Here is a selection of the most popular South Tyrolean beers.
Bottom-fermented beer is brewed during the cold winter months, usually in March, so that it is available all summer long. It used to be stored in deep cellars and covered with ice, which meant it could be kept without refrigerating. Märzen are strong beers ranging from dark yellow to amber in colour; the alcohol content is comparatively high at up to around 6% vol. and they are brewed with a higher proportion of hops. This makes the beers last longer.
Under the influence of Bavaria, pale beers started growing in popularity in South Tyrol from around 1900. They are bottom-fermented and light yellow in colour. The alcohol content is approx. 5% vol. and only a small quantity of hops is added. This means they are usually not very bitter.
Developed by Austrian brewery pioneer Anton Dreher, this beer used to be very common in South Tyrol. This bottom-fermented beer could only be brewed on an industrial scale after the development of the refrigerator. Wiener Lager is amber-coloured and has a malt body with quite a strong note of hops. The alcohol content is usually just under 5 % vol.
Originally from North Germany, this beer soon came to South Tyrol on the wave of German beer culture. It is a bottom-fermented beer which was developed during the 17th century and has an intense body and colour. It tastes markedly of malt and its alcohol content is over 6% vol. Generous quantities of hops are also added; bock beers are very bitter. Bock is also available as “Weizenbock”, brewed with wheat, or as “Doppelbock”, with an even higher alcohol content.
Herb and spice beers
In medieval times, herb and spice beers were brewed all over South Tyrol. These top-fermented beers were often brewed by women using the brewing grains available, e.g. rye, barley, oats, spelt etc. and seasoned with a wide variety of ingredients, e.g. rosemary, juniper, salt and wild hops. The colour ranges from pale yellow to black depending on the variety, and the alcohol content also varies. In time, herb and spice beers were superseded in South Tyrol by beers brewed with hops. Spicy beer is now experiencing a revival.