Take a journey through Bavarian beer history and uncover one of the oldest beer traditions in the world! Join people from around the world as they embark on the Great Zoigl Quest to discover the secret behind the nearly 600-year-old brewing tradition of Zoiglbier. Find out why this special brew is able to keep a devoted group of Bavarian brewers quietly carrying on this ancient art form. Learn about the techniques and traditions that have made this beer the oldest style of beer still produced in the world today. Don't miss out on the Great Zoigl Quest, where you can discover the secrets of Bavarian brewing and taste some of the world's most unique and flavorful beer.
The history of beer offers a treasure trove of brewing traditions from around the world. Many traditional ales, lagers and other regional styles have been enjoyed for centuries, but only a few have survived as far as we know today. One of those unique, ancient styles is zoiglbier, which has been brewed in Bavarian villages for nearly 600 years.
Zoiglbier is an uncommon yet highly sought-after style of German beer brewed in a method that dates back to medieval Bavaria. Locally, it is known as “village beer”, while the actual beer is sometimes referred to as “Zoigl-Kellerbier”, “Kommunbrauerei”, “Kurzbier”, or simply “Zoigl”. While the beer has been traditionally brewed for centuries in the Upper Palatinate region of southeastern Bavaria, zoiglbier is increasingly becoming an internationally recognized beer style.
Like many traditional beers, the origins of zoiglbier are murky. While we can’t be sure of its exact origins, it is believed to have been invented in the late thirteenth or early fourteenth century by Bavarian monks. Once invented, its popularity quickly spread, and by the early 1400’s it was being brewed in most Bavarian villages.
In its early days, zoiglbier was an exciting and innovative new beer style. Its unique brewing has a complex set of rules that have remained consistent for centuries.
Zoiglbier is brewed using a unique and traditional brewing method that has a few specific steps:
The distinct zoiglbier flavor is achieved through the use of native Bavarian yeast and a wide variety of malts and hops. The aging process is central to the brewing method and helps to impart complex flavors of lemon and grass, as well as hints of clove, banana and apple. The beer finishes with a refreshing finish, thanks to the strong presence of carbonation.
Today, zoiglbier is still brewed in small villages throughout Bavaria, though it is far less popular than it once was. To ensure its legacy is not lost and forgotten, a collective of village brewers have come together to document their traditional brewing process and to promote zoiglbier on the international market.
While new brewers and beers appear with much splash and fanfare in places such as Scotland, Denmark and Japan, this small group of Bavarian brewers quietly carries on the nearly 600-year-old brewing tradition of zoiglbier. This collective of brewers is dedicated to preserving this unique beer style and its legacy. They strive to give newer generations of brewers the chance to experience zoiglbier and to create beers that embody the unique traditions of Bavarian brewing.
The brewers have set up a unique program to encourage visitors to Bavarian villages to search for and enjoy zoiglbier. There are four main areas that are located in the U-shaped region known as the Upper Palatinate in southern Bavaria. These include Cham, Amberg, Neunburg vorm Wald and Neustadt an der Waldnaab.
The Zoigl Quest is an exciting way for beer lovers to explore the region and experience the unique beer styles of these Bavarian villages. In each area, beer lovers and curious visitors can visit local pubs and breweries, cooked meals, and take part in holiday festivities.
Individuals can also obtain the Zoigl Quest booklet created and sold by the collective of brewers. This booklet offers travelers the chance to gain insight into the local beer culture and customs, taste unique beers and enjoy the sites of these breathtaking towns. Rewards and discounts are available at participating pubs and breweries as an incentive to participate in the Quest and to experience zoiglbier.