Brewing is an ancient trade, but over the centuries it has reached such a pitch of sophistication that modern-day beers bear little resemblance to the produce of the brewing vats of old.
Brewing is basically applied biotechnology. It makes use of natural processes to transform natural raw materials into a natural beverage. Add to that generations of expertise and Austria’s stringent foodstuff regulations – on which many other countries have modelled their legislation – and you get a superbly pure and unspoilt glass of beer.
Here are the recognised types of beer in Austria:
Märzen: balanced malty flavour, mildly bitter hoppy aroma, light in colour
Pils: bottom-fermenting, strongly hoppy, light-coloured full-strength beer
Special beer: full-strength beers with an original wort of at least 12.5 degrees
Wheat beer: made using at least 50% wheat malt
Zwickel: unfiltered, made cloudy by the yeast and insoluble proteins
One of Austria’s traditional brewing regions is the “Mühlviertel”, between the Danube and the Bohemian Forest, which produces a wealth of fine beers. This region includes Austria’s only monastery brewery in Schlägel Abbey, the country’s oldest brewery, the Gutsbrauhof in St. Martin, the long-established Municipal Braucommune in Freistadt, and countless castle breweries, palace breweries and other small breweries.