A German Kellerbier in a Glass Beer Mug


Originally, Kellerbier referred to any Lager beer being matured in the caves or cellars under the brewery. In the 19th century, Kellerbier was a strong, aged beer meant to last the summer (Sommerbier), stored in rock cellars and served straight from them. But when refrigeration began to be used, the term shifted to describing special beers that were served young, directly from the cellar or lagering vessel. Today some breweries use the term purely for marketing purposes to make their beers appear special. While a kellerbier is sometimes considered more of a serving style than a beer style, the serving technique is still predominately used with certain styles in certain regions (such as Helles around the Munich area, or a Märzen in the Franconia region). Young, unfiltered, unpasteurized versions of the traditional German beer styles, traditionally served on tap from the lagering vessel. The name literally means “cellar beer” – implying a beer served straight from the lagering cellar. Since this serving method can be applied to a wide range of beers, the style is somewhat hard to pin down. However, there are several common variants that can be described and used as templates for other versions. Sometimes described as Naturtrüb or naturally cloudy. Also sometimes called Zwickelbier, after the name of the tap used to sample from a lagering tank.

Style Expectations

The paler German Kellerbiers are young and fresh with prominent hop character. The darker versions are spicier with greater attenuation.


Typically can be somewhat hazy or cloudy with a color that ranges from pale gold to a light amber. A creamy white head shows good persistence but when it’s served on cask, the head’s size and retention is lower.


Typically has additional yeast character, with byproducts not frequently found in well-lagered German beers (such as diacetyl, sulfur, and acetaldehyde).


Typically has additional yeast character, with some byproducts not frequently found in well-lagered German beers (such as diacetyl, sulfur, and acetaldehyde), although not at objectionable levels.


Has a bit more body and creamy texture due to yeast in suspension, and may have a slight slickness if diacetyl is present. May have a lower carbonation than the base style.


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