An expression of Salzburg's beer culture
Stiegl, Austria’s private brewery, lives by the motto ‘Quality before quantity’. With the exception of times of crisis during the Second World War, the ‘Stiegl-Goldbräu’ has always been brewed using 12° of original wort since its product launch in 1912. Even today this is a hallmark of quality. Thus the people of Salzburg are the only ones who still endeavour to give their beer a full-bodied flavour which is not a matter of course. According to European regulations Märzen beer can also be brewed with less than 12° of wort. The majority of Austrian breweries has lowered the content of wort, which comes at the expense of quality. The advantages of brewing with less than 12° of wort are lower beer taxes and a reduction in production costs.
The only brewery that brews with 12° of original wort
In this respect Stiegl obviously seems to adopt a different approach. Salzburg’s brewery still draws on ample resources – the higher the content of malt, the more full-bodied is the taste of beer. "To put it in a nutshell: Goldbräu really comes into its own when brewed with 12° of wort," assures Stiegl owner Dr Heinrich Dieter Kiener. It is surely no coincidence if you take a closer look at the history of original wort in combination with the figure 12.
"After the end of the war, in September 1949, it was again permitted to brew Märzen beer with 12° of original wort and the people of Salzburg celebrated this with a big ’Peace-beer-party’. We continue to brew with 12 degrees, still know how to throw parties and especially how to define standards for the local beer culture," says Kiener.
12 - The figure of perfection
Not only does the figure 12 stand for the perfect, balanced original wort but it also symbolises perfection. There are examples galore: Apart from 12 months and the 12 signs of the zodiac, there is hardly any culture or religion which does not attach particular importance to the figure 12. In Greek Mythology there are for instance 12 deities and 12 Titans, the Indian Delhi has 12 gates and in Buddhism the council of the Dalai Lama is composed of 12 members. The oldest Roman interpretation of law is mirrored in the Law of the Twelve Tables. There were also 12 gates made of pearls surrounding New Jerusalem and 12 headstones bearing the names of the apostles … the list could be continued forever.
That’s why Stiegl will continue to commit itself to 12° of original wort. "That’s exactly what our consumers enjoy and what sets us decidedly apart from other breweries. Therefore we will stick to it in future even if this results in higher production costs," asserts Kiener. This way Salzburg’s private brewery manages to maintain its independence and the high standard of their beers in a time where beers become increasingly similar.
The original wort ensures a full-bodied taste
Original wort is the basic content of malted sugar before fermentation. Normally Märzen beer (German lager) contains 11 to 12 degrees of original wort, although the motto ‘the more original wort, the tastier the beer’ generally applies. With less original wort the beer tastes bland. 12 degrees is simply perfect. The beer has a well-rounded body and is therefore particularly palatable. Higher malt content results in more flavour. Twelve degrees of original wort is not only noticeable in the taste, it also lends the beer its aesthetically pleasing golden colour.