Nuremberg, Germany is a city with a rich history and lots of traditions. The city is in Franconia, the northern region of Bavaria was a major medieval city and was home to artist and inventor Albrecht Dürer. Big brother Munich is in the south and casts a shadow that’s hard to escape. While Munich might be thought of as the Bavarian Beer Capital, Nuremberg has something to offer in that respect as well: Nuremberg Red Beer or Rotbier. But what is Nuremberg Red Beer? I decided to find out.
The History of Nuremberg Red Beer or Rotbier
In Nuremberg, they have been brewing red beer since at least the Middle Ages. As with most historic and important things, there is some disagreement over whether the beer is originally from Nuremberg or from Belgium. But, similar to the Bavarian purity law for beer (the Reinheitsgebot, which carefully controls use of ingredients), Nuremberg breweries follow local regulations for Rotbier. These regulations strictly regulate what ingredients can be used. Since 1303, Nuremberg breweries may only use barley malt for their beer.
So What Is Nuremberg 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 Nuremberg Red Beer
It likely goes without saying that visitors to Nuremberg, regardless of whether they are beer connoisseurs or not, will surely want to sample the city’s 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 my last visit to Nuremberg, my husband and I 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 Nuremberg red beer tastes sweet, malty, and is easy to drink. And in case you’re wondering: Yes, Nuremberg 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 Brewery Tour
If beer is a special interest, you can go even deeper than just getting a taste. 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. These cellars are an important part of Nuremberg’s historic beer brewing tradition.
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, is pedestrian only so get your walking shoes ready.
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