German Food Guide
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Lager Dunkel

Also Known As:   Dunkel, Dunkles

Dunkel is the German word for “dark,” and it refers to the classic Bavarian lager, a deep-brown or mahogany colored all-barley brew.

       Lager Dunkel
Photo: © Deutscher Brauer-Bund
Classification:  Vollbier

Type of Beer:  Lager

Alcohol Content:  4.6-5.6%

Extract Value:  10-14% / Export 12%

Region:  Throughout Germany, with a concentration in Bavaria (Bayern)

Well Known Brands
Alt-Bayerisch Dunkel from the Ayinger Brewery, König Ludwig Dunkel from the Kaltenberg Brewery, Warsteiner Dunkel

Beer Characteristics
Deep-brown or mahogany colored, all-barley lager. Rich and very malty with only a gentle hop accent. Mildly vanilla, nutty, sweet taste with a dry, rounded finish. Very little hops bitterness. Full-bodied. Long-lasting, creamy head.

Serving Suggestions
Optimal serving temperature is 46° F (8° C).

In Bavaria in 1516, the Bavarian Beer Purity Law was proclaimed by co-rulers Duke Wilhelm IV and Duke Ludwig X. This law stated that beer could only be made from water, malted barley and hops. Shortly thereafter, in 1553, Duke Albrecht V created another law stating that brewers were only allowed to make beer between St. Michael's Day (September 29) and St. George's Day (April 23).

Given these restrictions, the only beer that Bavarians were legally allowed to make is what we today call the Dunkel. The beer was barley-based, because of the Beer Purity Law, it was dark because of the malting technology of the Middle Ages, and it was a lager because of the temperature in the fermentation cellars during the brew season. 


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