27A. Historical Beer: Roggenbier

Overall Impression

A dunkelweizen made with rye rather than wheat, but with a greater body and light finishing hops.


Light coppery-orange to very dark reddish or coppery-brown color. Large creamy off-white to tan head, quite dense and persistent (often thick and rocky). Cloudy, hazy appearance.


Light to moderate spicy rye aroma intermingled with light to moderate weizen yeast aromatics (spicy clove and fruity esters, either banana or citrus). Light spicy, floral, or herbal hops are acceptable.


Grainy, moderately-low to moderately-strong spicy rye flavor, often having a hearty flavor reminiscent of rye or pumpernickel bread. Medium to medium-low bitterness allows an initial malt sweetness (sometimes with a bit of caramel) to be tasted before yeast and rye character takes over. Low to moderate weizen yeast character (banana, clove), although the balance can vary. Medium-dry, grainy finish with a lightly bitter (from rye) aftertaste. Low to moderate spicy, herbal, or floral hop flavor acceptable, and can persist into aftertaste.


Medium to medium-full body. High carbonation. Moderately creamy.


Rye is a huskless grain and is difficult to mash, often resulting in a gummy mash texture that is prone to sticking. Rye has been characterized as having the most assertive flavor of all cereal grains. It is inappropriate to add caraway seeds to a roggenbier (as some American brewers do); the rye character is traditionally from the rye grain only.


A specialty German rye beer originally brewed in Regensburg, Bavaria. Never a widely popular style, it has all but disappeared in modern times.

Characteristic Ingredients

Malted rye typically constitutes 50% or greater of the grist (some versions have 60-65% rye). Remainder of grist can include pale malt, Munich malt, wheat malt, crystal malt and/or small amounts of debittered dark malts for color adjustment. Weizen yeast provides distinctive banana esters and clove phenols. Light usage of Saazer-type hops in bitterness, flavor and aroma. Lower fermentation temperatures accentuate the clove character by suppressing ester formation. Decoction mash traditionally used (as with weissbiers).

Style Comparison

A more distinctive variant of a dunkelweizen using malted rye instead of malted wheat. American Rye Beers will not have the weizen yeast character, and likely more hops.

Vital Statistics


10 - 20


14 - 19


1.046 - 1.056


1.010 - 1.014


4.5% - 6%

Commercial Examples

Thurn und Taxis Roggen.