Nuremberg, Germany is a city with a rich history and lots of traditions. The city is in Franconia, the northern region of Bavaria. Big brother Munich is in the south and casts a shadow that’s hard to escape. While Munich might be thought of as the Beer Capital, Nuremberg has something to offer in that respect as well: Rotbier, or Red Beer.
The History of Rotbier
The city of Nuremberg has been brewing red beer since the Middle Ages. There’s some disagreement over whether the beer originated in Nuremberg or in Belgium. But, similar to the Bavarian purity law for beer (or Reinheitsgebot), Nuremberg breweries follow local regulations for Rotbier. These regulations strictly regulate what ingredients can be used.
So What Is Rotbier?
Rotbier is a bottom-fermented beer. The fermentation process is done slowly and at low temperatures. For this reason, the yeast that’s added to the beer falls to the bottom.
The city also has a white beer that has been around since 1530. In the white beer, the brew is top-fermented by using higher temperatures that maintain the yeast towards the top of the liquid.
Today there’s been a resurgence of interest in Rotbier. But at its peak in 1597, the city had 35 red beer breweries and eleven white beer breweries as well as the city’s own wheat beer brewery.
Taste Test Red Beer
It likely goes without saying that visitors to Nuremberg and beer connoisseurs will surely want to sample red beer. One of the first to return to brewing this traditional beer is the Hausbrauerei Altstadthof. Today, the Altstadthof is brewing red beer according to organic standards using their original recipe.
During our last visit to Nuremberg, we stopped in at the Hausbrauerei Altstadthof for lunch. The restaurant has a lovely Biergarten in the building’s courtyard, or Hof. Order a beer and pair it with the city’s trademark sausages: small, finger-sized sausages. The red beer tastes sweet, malty and is easy to drink. The red beer is actually red, too!
The Altstadthof brewery also sells bottles of beer that you can take with you. Consider it a souvenir!
Nuremberg’s Historic Rock-Cut Cellars
You could even make a day of it and visit the city’s underground rock labyrinth! Per a law originating in the medieval era, Nuremberg beer brewers had to have their own beer cellar for fermentation and storage. Today you can tour these historic rock-cut cellars that once stored the beer and even priceless works of art during World War II.
There are several tours available of the rock-cut cellars. But the red beer tour will no doubt be of interest to beer enthusiasts. And the tour includes a beer!
If you’re staying in Munich or the nearby area and want to sample this unique beer, Nuremberg makes a great day trip. It’s easily accessible by public transit as well as by car. Much of the downtown Altstadt, or old city, area is pedestrian only so get your walking shoes ready.
All photos, as well as all opinions, are my own.