Köstritzer Schwarzbierbrauerei - Köstritzer Pale Ale

Köstritzer Schwarzbierbrauerei - Köstritzer Pale Ale

Beer Club featured in International Beer Club U.S. & International Variety Beer Club


Pale Ale



Bottle size:


Alcohol by Volume:


Köstritzer Schwarzbierbrauerei - Köstritzer Pale Ale

  • ABV:

  • Bottle Size:

  • Serving Temperature:

    45-50° F
  • Suggested Glassware:

    Pint Glass or Mug

In the U.S., the adventurous craft beer renaissance which has taken hold over the last three decades or so has been greatly inspired by the brewing culture of European countries, most notably the U.K., Germany, and Belgium. It’s been fun in recent years to see this adventurous brewing culture cross back over the pond to take hold in Europe, as nations boasting deep, traditional roots branch out to brew craft styles from lands far away. Köstritzer’s Pale Ale is a perfect example – a style originating from England being brewed (quite well, we might add) by a traditional German brewer that’s been in business for almost half a millennium – and we’re glad to have come across it.

On the pour, we get a medium amber color with good clarity and a robust crop of off-white foam that persists well and drops some lace down the glass as it recedes. On the nose, we picked up a nice balance between malt and hop character here, with the hop profile offering fruity notes tending towards citrus, with secondary touches of pear, apple, and peach, along with some grassy and floral overtones, a hint of pine resin, and a subtle woodsy note. A noticeable caramel and light toffee malt tone underpins it all. That malty core comes through very nicely realized in the flavor, as well, delivering that caramelized character along with a bit of toast and a touch of residual sweetness. Hops are equally flavorful, with juicy and candied citrus, orchard fruit notes, and an herbaceous, resinous character supported by a moderate hop bitterness that balances that hint of malt sweetness. Overall, we found it a well balanced and quite luscious pale ale from Germany offering elements of English and American pale ales, and perhaps a bit of German altbier. For pairings, we’d go with roasted meats with a fruity sauce, such as a pork loin with a citrus or stone fruit glaze. Orange chicken or beef would work nicely, as well, especially with a bit of chile heat. Prost!

“Schwarzbier” is German for “black beer,” and is the specialty and chief product of the Köstritzer Brewery, which has been in operation since at least 1543, and possibly several decades or even centuries before. At one time, the brewery was owned by royalty; the counts of the House of Reuss, who ruled over Köstritz, took ownership of the brewery in the late 17th century when it was known as the Knights’ Manor Brewery. The name was updated to the Princely Brewery in 1806 when the counts were promoted to, you guessed it, princes.

A century later in 1906, the Köstritz Brewery (whose name now reflected the name of the town, as is common among German breweries) saw construction begin on a new brewhouse building. The current brewery still sits on the same site. When one of Germany’s oldest breweries can survive almost five centuries on the back of one signature product, it’s a sign that the recipe is good. In fact, Köstritzer Schwarzbier is the benchmark, quintessential version of the style and its popularity has done much to promote the style throughout Germany and throughout the world. It’s been said that the famous German author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a fan of the beer and in fact drank Köstritzer to survive a period of illness that prevented him from eating (his image often appears on the label or other packaging – covered in a sheet with a glass of Köstritzer at the ready!). Additionally, in an 1892 letter, Prince Otto von Bismarck stated his opinion that Köstritzer holds "a distinguished rank within the aristocracy of beers."

Though schwarzbier is Köstritzer’s specialty and flagship product, the brewery produces several other styles including pilsner, kellerbier, pale ale, and radlers with lime and lemon.

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