Welcome to Beers of Europe’s Beer Classification Guide. In this series we walk you through different beer styles, opening your eyes to the origins of the type and how it has developed over the course of its history. For the home brewers amongst you, we include the brewing specifications for the style and food pairings, as well as what makes it different from others. Finally, we give you the best examples of the type that you can buy straight from our website. The last entry covered Munich’s favourite beer style, the helles. This week’s focus is yet another German city, Dortmund and showcasing their unique lager style, Dortmunder/export.
Origin and History
From one of the earliest brewing communities in Germany, the brewers traditionally brewed a dark wheat beer to satisfy the city workers. This was the case up until the introduction of the pilsner to the country. Much like the helles, Dortmund brewers raced to create their own version of it. Several local breweries grouped together under the name Dortmunder Union and began to brew their own pale lager. Two varieties of the lager, the lagerbier and the export were born. Distinctive enough to be classed as a separate style, a well-rounded pale lager at a slightly higher strength is what separates the beer from the helles. Following the Second World War, the export was the most popular style in Germany and although it has fallen behind other lager styles in recent years, it now accounts for around 10% of German beer sales.
The Dortmunder/export has a slightly higher ABV than standard lagers, around the 6% mark. As a standard for most lagers, this has a low IBU of 20-30 and a recognisable straw-deep gold colour to it. It uses traditional German Noble hops and Pilsner and Munich malts as the base to the style and has malt flavours and a slight bitter base to it. It should be served at 7-8⁰C in a flute glass, but a stein or tankard would suffice. It can also be paired well with grilled steak or is simply excellent on its own.
Dortmunder Union stays true to its background, brewed in the city and being a pale lager at the higher end of the lager ABV at 5%. It was heavily influenced by the pilsner in its conception, however now stands alone as one of the best beer styles Germany has to offer. You can buy Dortmunder here;
Another brewery from Dortmund, Dab’s export is well received as one of the best lagers in the world, especially when it first came out. It is a great example of the export, being well balanced, easy to drink providing a full tasting beverage. Only 5% ABV for the Dortmunder Export, but it makes up for it in its crisp and well-rounded flavour. DAB Export is available here;
Not a city to be left behind, Dortmund created its own lager to battle the Pilsner, Helles and Kolsch, among others. A strong, full flavoured yet well-balanced export is the result of a dedicated brewing community. Its beers are doing just as well in the international market as they are domestically and especially here in the UK, where they account for some of our best-selling German products.
Article by Matthew Keeley-Smith