16 February 2012

Answers on a beermat

The Oxford Companion to Beer doesn't have an entry on Landbier. My only other experience with the style was back in 2007 when I quite enjoyed the light toffee of Distelhaus Landbier. The second landbier of my life comes by way of my Beoir buddy Adam who has no more of a clue about what makes a landbier than I do. If anyone can enlighten us, we're all ears.

So this is Wüllners Braumeister Landbier, hailing from the west German town of Bielefeld (or does it?) and like its Distelhaus colleague is a vaguely dunkelish amber-to-brown lager. The nose offers up toffee and molasses, shot through with a very German grassy hops complexity. The big fizz subsides very quickly leaving only a vague sparkle to the beer.

Tastewise there's not a whole lot to it: the herbal hops sit at the front and the toffee is more of an afterthought, barely present and creating a sensation less like a malty beer and more like slightly flat Tizer.

There is potential in the style; it could be improved. Except... I think when the problems of texture and flavour are fixed, it stops being landbier and starts being Munich Dunkel or Alt. Or am I missing something about what makes the quintessential true-to-style landbier?


  1. We only managed to make sense of the term 'landbier' in the context of Landbier Paradies in Nuremberg, which seems to use it as a catch-all term for slightly rough-around-the-edges old-fashioned beer. It seems as vague as c**ft beer and, like many beer descriptors, makes most sense in relation to the rest of a brewer's range, i.e. the landbier is the one that's not as clean as the pils.

    But we should ask some Germans for input on this...

    1. But it's definitely a style of brown lager. (I'd say "Ur-" is closer to "craft", but even that is just a marketing designation used by brewers; despite the assertions of some of the UK beer commentariat, "craft" isn't.)

      What I'd like to know is where did it come from? Where is the Einbeck of Landbier? Or what is its dampfbier-like origin story?

    2. I think we've had yellow 'uns, though.

      Suspect its origins might be similar to those of the Ploughman's Lunch.

  2. http://www.germanbeerinstitute.com/Landbier.html reckons "Landbier is a general term denoting a simple everyday session or quaffing brew" Sounds all right for a skin full.

  3. Hi,

    Interesting question. So, i am a german beer blogger ;-)

    The description of a typical "Landbier" are very exact in the text above. In my opinion, the term "Landbier" describe a traditional type of beer. It is not a typical type of beer, but it is traditionally brewed. The term "Landbier" is rather a term used for advertising :-)

    Greetz from Franconia

  4. Oh, thx Cookin Lager for the link ;) so my answer was not so wrong..hehe..cheers!

  5. It ain't really a style. Some are brown, some amber, some blonde. Some hoppy, some malty. Some really bland and lame.

    Bier gebraut auf dem Land: in the country(side). Though some are also brewed at big industrial breweries.

    Here's a discussion with an explanation that it was one of a trio of terms coined in the 90's to try and differentiate beer based on relative quality.
    http://www.gutefrage.net/frage/was-ist-ein-landbier Landbier is in the middle, between Tafelbier and Qualitätsbier. I've never heard of this before.

    http://www.germanbeerinstitute.com/Landbier.html is about as accurate a description as I've ever heard.

    As an aside, r8beer.com does a disservice by having a category called "Zwickel- / Land- / Kellerbier".

  6. Thanks all.

    I know well enough not to look to beer-rating sites for help with European beer terminology...

  7. Great. Land beer is different from field beer. This is all supposed to make sense, right?

  8. Yeah, the Ratebeer category is screwed up, but searching for "landbier" on Ratebeer seems to confirm the German Beer Institute explanation. I find pale ones and dark ones, as well as "Landbier Pils", "Landbier Weizen", etc etc

    I've had both pale and dark ones myself, and can't really find any commonality between them, so I think GBI and Erlangernick are right.

  9. Of all the answers, that of Felix is the correct one, according to the answers I got to a similar question I made a while ago. Basically, it means nothing specific.

  10. I recently had a different Landbier myself and was just as confused about what the hell it was supposed to be.

  11. There's a lot of landbiers in the German drinks markets now, I usually pick up several different ones when we go beer-shopping there. I tend to think of it as the German equivalent of light ale, or possibly of ordinary bitter - although yes, it is also a marketing term akin, I guess, to British brewers referring to country or traditional bitter.