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German Beer Classifications for Tax Purposes

by Alberta Rager
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German Beer Classifications for Tax Purposes

With all the beer styles made in Germany, Munich Helles to Kölsch to Oktoberfest, Alt, Munich Dunkel, Bock and more, the German tax collector list only four, none of which have anything to do with the color, flavor or strength of the beer.

Unlike here, German breweries pay tax on the extract strength of the wort. The extract strength means the nonwater compounds found in the wort. They are measuring the malt sugar, proteins, hop oils, minerals, vitamins, tannins, anything that leaches out of the grain and hops during the mash and boil. The four classifications are: Simple Beer 2-5.5% extract strength; draft beer 7-8% extract strength; whole beer 11-14% extract strength; strong beer 16-28% extract strength. Check the scale. You'll notice several gaps. There is no 5.6-6.9% 8.1-10.9% nor 15%. Do you suppose that means German brewers can't make a beer with 15% extract or they just don't have to pay tax on it?

There is no direct correlation between the extract strength of the wort and the alcoholic strength of the beer. There are things in solution in the wort that are not fermentable but contribute to the body of the beer. In most beers about 1/4 to 1/3 of the extract in the wort is converted by the yeast to alcohol. So a 12% extract beer will produce a 3-4% ABW or 3.5-5% ABV beer.

This article was published on Friday June 02, 2017.
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