HVG Germany: Hopfen


The development of the beer types is a very interesting chapter in the history of beer. This development varied from one country to another depending on the raw commodities and the brewing technology used and not least determined by the brand policy of the breweries. Thus a South American Pils beer has only little in common with its great-grandfather in Bohemia and an Asian bock beer would not be very sought-after in the German strong beer season. As well as the traditional types there are beer specialities, beer mixed drinks and seasonal beer creations, which are invented by brewers all over the world - such as e.g. Christmas beer and moonshine beer.

One thing almost all the beers in their endless diversity have in common: The hops are their spirit which only brings them to life. But how do you actually define beer?

The raw commodities allowed for beer in Germany are laid down in the "Provisional Beer Law".

The German Purity Law used to be anchored in the beer tax law and the brewing and marketing of beers (even imported beers) was prohibited with anything else than those additives allowed by law.
The judgment by the EuGH on 12. 3. 1987 on § 10 Beer Tax Law (ref. Purity Law) declared the ruling in § 10 Beer Tax Law inadmissible due to violation of Art. 30 EWGV (freedom of trade). Due to this decision the Federal Republic of Germany also has to allow the import of beers to Germany, which are properly brewed in other EU member countries according to the prevailing criteria and sold under the label "beer". The Purity Law continues to exist for German breweries. It is anchored In the "Provisional Beer Law".

The customs taxes are being brought into line in the EU. The beer tax also falls under this. In the Combined Nomenclature the code for beer is 22.03 (beer mixed drinks 22.06). Details on the beer tax In Germany are regulated by the Beer Tax Law and the regulation on implementing the Beer Tax Law. 

Different beer types have different characters with regard to the hop bouquet and their bitterness. The hop bouquet can only be described sensorially, on the other hand the analysed BUs (Bitter Units) already point in a certain direction as far as the bitter taste is concerned. What bitter level can be expected for which type of beer can be seen on the chart shown here (pdf, size 15 KB). How can you split up the whole spectrum of beer types? A beer can be classified according to various criteria. This makes it easier for the connoisseur at the forefront to classify the expected taste and allows the beer expert to assess the nuances within the beer type. Which criteria can be applied here?

A. Labelling by law: In the respective country this is laid down by the corresponding food laws (e.g. vollbier, export).

B. Combinations of raw materials which are specific to the type:

BA. Cereal used (wheat beer, rye beer, smoke-dried malt)

BB. Raw grain used (rice, maize, sugar, syrup)

BC. Other flavours and spices (honey, fruits, herbs)

BD. Composition of the water

BE. Hop dosage (quantity, variety, product, time, hop aroma, bitter)

BF. Type of yeast - top- and bottom-fermenting. Bottom-fermented beers are also known all over the world as lager beers, the top-fermented as ale. Also other micro-organisms responsible for the fermentation - as in the case of the Berliner Weisse, the Belgian lambic or gueuze beers - are specific to the type.

C. Origin: A regional splitting sorts the beer types out according to their origin (country or region). The beers either have to come from the respective region or be brewed according to the original formula in that region. Examples are stout, porter, Kölsch or pilsner.

D. Concentration in extract and alcohol: The original gravity, which at the same time is significant for the alcohol content, distinguishes between beers, e.g. strong, bock, doppelbock und triple bock.

E. Special occasions: Seasonal beer specialities are brewed at certain times/for special occasions, e.g. at Christmastime, Oktoberfest or for the strong beer season.

F. Brewing process: e.g. diet beers, non-alcoholic and alcohol-reduced beers, Ice, dry- and light beers

G. Appearance: Whether transparent, light-coloured, reddish, dark or black, whether naturally cloudy or filtered clear - it appeals to the eye.



In the analysis different beer types can show the same level of bitter substances. 

The measured bitter units signalise a tendency regarding the expected bitter taste. However, the spectral photometrical analysis of the bitter components is unspecific as far as ascertaining the IBU is concerned: Two beers with identical bitter units can show different contents of iso-alpha-acids. Let us take two beers with 35 bitter units. Beer A has 32 mg/l iso-humulones, Beer B 39 mg/l. Both beers differ in their bitter taste although the IBUs are the same. Taking the example of two beers brewed In our experimental brewery this influence becomes obvious. The beers were hopped differently but otherwise brewed identically: 





Beer No. 2 is - judged by the BUs - less bitter than Beer No. 1, but is assessed by the tasters as definitely more bitter. On the one hand this is due to the higher iso-humulone content and secondly the beer is considerably dryer due to the very low polyphenol content by which the bitterness finds a clearer expression. In addition to the bitterness it is possible to make a clear distinction between the beers also by the aroma and the mouthfeel.

1.Apart from the regulations in the paragraphs 4 - 6 only barley malt, hops, yeast and water may be used in brewing bottom-fermented beer.
2.The brewing of top-fermented beer is subject to the same regulation; but here the use of different malt and the use of technically pure cane, beet and inverted sugar and colourings made from sugar of the type described are also allowed.
3.Under malt all artificially germinated cereals are understood.
4.The use of colouring beers which are only brewed with malt, hops, yeast and water, is allowed in brewing beer but is subject to special monitoring.
5.Instead of hops, when brewing beer hop powder or hops in otherwise granulated form or hop extracts can be used provided these products correspond to the following requirements:
1.Hop powder and otherwise granulated hops as well as hop extracts must be obtained solely from hops.
2.Hop extracts must
a.contain the hop substances which pass into the wort in the brewing process or their aroma and bitter compounds in a form as present in hops before or during boiling in the wort,
b.comply with the regulations of the food laws. The hop extracts may be added to the wort only before the boil begins or while the wort is boiling.
6.As a means of clarification for wort and beer only those substances may be used which have a mechanical or absorbing effect and which are separated except for any unavoidable parts which are completely harmless to health, smell and taste.
7.On application permission may be given in individual cases for divergence from the paragraphs 1 and 2 when brewing special beers and beer which is intended for export or scientific experiments. The competent authorities are responsible for the permission of exceptions according to the laws of the country.
8.The regulations in the paragraphs 1 and 2 do not apply to those breweries which only brew beer for their own use (homebrewers).