‘Dunkel’ is probably not the only thing Dunkel and Dunkelweizen have in common. What else do they have in common? How about a quick study in German? The word ‘dunkelweizen’ originated from two separate words, dunkel meaning ‘dark.’ It is safe to say they also have a similar color. Now that you know the similarity, take a quick look at their differences.
Dunkelweizen is a German styled dark ale with a sweet, malty taste and a low to medium carbonation. On the other hand, a Dunkel is a dark larger with a roasted malt flavor. It has a smooth balance of bitterness and a malty taste.
In this article, we will discuss the origin of Dunkelweizen and Dunkel lager, the mouthfeel of these drinks, their flavor, smell, the brewing process, and popular examples of each beer style.
Origin of Each Beer Style
Dunkel and Dunkelweizen are great beers with a history dating as far back as the 15th century. They both originated from Germany and are dark beers that strictly adhere to the beer purity law.
Dunkel lager beer’s ancestry can be traced to the Benedictine monks who settled and established themselves in Munich in the 12th century. The brewing of this dark beer was in accordance to the Reinheitsgebot law by Wittelsbachs, the Bavarian ruling house, in 1516. The Wittelsbachs were both rulers and brewers. That much sets the tone for these two unique drinks.
Dunkelweizen is seen by many as a cross between a German Dunkel and a Hefeweizen. Since wheat was seen as a commodity for the wealthy, Dunkelweizen became the beer for royals and wealthy people in society.
The sale of Dunkelweizen experienced a decline in the 19th century after barley was adopted as a better brewing alternative to wheat. Soon after the Second World War, the sale and production of wheat beer increased, making Dunkelweizen one of the largest beer types in Germany.
Dunkel is sufficiently highlighted as the first beer regulated and codified. There had been older versions, but those versions never stayed in Bavaria as the styles were employed elsewhere.
Modern-day Dunkel can be traced to Gabriel Sedlmayr II. Gabriel was the son of the owner of Spaten Brewing. He adopted an improved kilning process, which became a foundation for modern Dunkel.
Like its contemporary, Dunkel gained popularity as well in the 16th century. However, in terms of consumption, it has been usurped, but Dunkel is still popular in city beerhalls such as Franconia, Bayreuth, Lichtenfels, Bamberg, and Kulmbach. The small breweries in the town still produce Dunkel, and it remains exclusive to their local markets.
Flavor is one of the criteria used to judge beer to choose which one is better. It’s a no-brainer. If I like the taste and smell, I stick to it. I probably won’t drink it again if I don’t like how it tastes or smells.
Dunkelweizen, an ale smooth to taste, has a range of color from dark brown to amber brown, and while you may be discouraged by the brew, the truth is it contains sweet maltiness, clove, banana, notes of vanilla, nutmeg, and chocolate. All these ingredients give it a good smell and aftertaste.
Dunkel, on the other hand, has a high amount of malt. Hence a rich, malty taste. When you drink Dunkel, it leaves you with a seemingly bitter aftertaste for a few seconds. Dunkel is made of Munich malts, yeast, water, and a small number of hops. Dunkel is a bottom-fermented lager beer that has a blended balance of flavors of caramel, bread crust, and chocolate and undergoes a technique of special brewing known as decoction mashing.
Dunkelweizen is darker, fruity, and sweeter with dark roasted malts than lighter counterparts like the hefeweizen.
Dunkelweizen has moderate to medium carbonation, which gives it a soft, conditioned mouthfeel. You will no doubt find a little spiciness in the back burner that segues into an aftertaste of dark fruit and grape that pleasantly lingers on the tongue. Dunkelweizen has an IBU of 10-18, which means you should expect a minimal hop.
Dunkel gives a warming taste that no doubt gives a rich mouthfeel when sipped. The carbonation is mostly moderate. Dunkels has an IBU range of 16-25. This means you should expect more hop when compared with Dunkelweizen.
Dunkelweizen may lead with the aroma of graininess and yeast notes, but you also find roasted malts intermingling with a smell of mealy grain, a clear hint of caramel, and a little chocolatey goodness.
Of course, Dunkel will have the Munich malt aroma all around it. Hints of caramel, chocolate, nuts, and toffee are also evident.
Brewing Process And Ingredients
Like every other ale, dunkelweizen is brewed with a top-fermenting yeast, although it has a slight variation in its ingredient and brewing process. Dunkelweizen ferments at a relatively low temperature when compared with some ales.
Munich and wheat malt are used as the base grist in equal proportion. Dark chocolate and other ingredients are added, and the mix is then fermented with Hefeweizen yeast strain. In the first phase of this beer’s fermentation, the mix is subjected to a temperature of about 21 Celsius. The first phase of fermentation of dunkelweizen takes almost a week, after which the temperature is lowered to its freezing point before storage.
The ingredients Used to brew dunkelweizen include Munich malt, wheat malt, yeast, crystal malt, and chocolate.
Dunkel, on the other hand, undergoes a bottom-fermenting yeast process. Compared to Dunkelweizen, Dunkels are brewed way longer and at lower temperatures—between 32°F and 36°F.
The ingredients used in brewing Dunkels include malt, yeast, water, and a small number of hops.
Most beers have an ABV volume that can be as low as 1.2% or as high as 40%. It is not uncommon that you see people looking at their bottles for the alcohol content of their drink, especially when they want to try it for the first time.
Note that you would get knocked out faster drinking a beer with an ABV value of 5 than drinking beer with a lower value.
The ABV level for Dunkelweizen is usually close to 5%, but this is not absolute as there may be higher values depending on the brewer.
The Alcohol By Volume (ABV) level for Dunkel ranges from 4–6% as well. It is not so different from the Dunkelweizen in that regard.
More often than not, a Munich Dunkel’s color ranges from copper to a dark brownish tone. Its head has a graceful medium to light creamy color atop the beer. Sometimes the beer may appear clear if filtered and murky if unfiltered.
Dunkelweizen often has a dark brown to dark golden brown color. The appearance seems hazy or cloudy as slow visible bubbles rise in the glass as a result of the beer’s slightly high carbonation.
Popular Examples Of Each Beer Style
For Dunkelweizen, listed below are these five best popular styles of beer worth trying:
- Ayinger Urweisse (Brauerei Aying Franz Inselkammer, Germany).
- Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier Dunkel (Bayerich Staatsbrauerei Weihenstephan, Germany).
- Belle Gueule Dunkelweizen (Brasseurs RJ, Canada).
- Schneider Weisse Tap 07 – Original Weissbier (Schneider Weisse G. Schneider & Sohn, Germany).
- Piece Dark n Curvy (Piece Brewery, United States).
Now to the curated list of top 5 Dunkel beers you might like.
- Kloster Kreuzberg Dunkel brewed by Brewerey Kloster Kreuzberg is highly ranked and loved by many. This dunkel brand has a 5.4% ABV.
- Dunkel by Brewery, Bierstadt Lagerhaus, is another beautiful beer to look out for. It has a 5.5% ABV.
- Double Dunkel sits at number 3 and is brewed by Brewery Wibby Brewing with a 7.5% ABV.
- Moondoor Dunkel is also brewed by Brewery Wibby Brewing and occupies no 4 with 5.5% ABV.
- Dunkel by Brewery, Hofbrauhaus Freising is the beer fanatics’ choice at no 5 with a 5.2% ABV.
Dunkel and Dunkelweizen are no doubt the heritage of Europe’s finest beers, and there is absolutely a delight awaiting you when you try out any of these interesting beers. If you happen to be an adventurous drinker, ensure you make time to try out these wholesome drinks.