The Dortmunder Export is a beer that was made for the hard working men and women of the industrial heartland of Germany known as the Ruhr District. The area specialized in coal mining and steel manufacturing. After spending all day running a jack-hammer 3000 feet underground, or working in the fiery blast furnaces of the steel industry, they wanted a beer as hearty as they were.
This is the niche that the Dortmunder filled. It is darker with a bigger body than a pils and drier and not as sweet as a Munich Helles. The alcohol is big for a blond lager at 5.5% when all the other blonds came in at the upper 4% range. The Dortmunder Export has more bitterness than a Munich Helles but less than the northern German pils. In the finish, it is also in the middle, with medium-dry balance of both hops and malt with a hefty mouthfeel that gives the impression of a bigger beer.
- Aroma: The aroma is low to medium with noble (either German or Czech) hop aroma, moderate grainy-sweet pils aroma, and it may have some sulfur aroma (sulfates are high in the water of Dortmund, Germany) from the water or the yeast. There may be a little DMS from the pils malt but no diacetyl is acceptable.
- Appearance: The appearance of a Dortmunder Export is light gold to deep gold, darker than the pilsner style, persistent white head.
- Flavor: The flavor is well balanced between the pilsner malt and noble hops. There is a touch of malty sweetness which smooths out the bitterness. The beer is crisp, refreshing, and balanced with a lingering hop bitterness (some may finish with a little sweetness). The Dortmunder is a clean lager with no fruity esters present. There may be a little mineral character in the beer which comes from the local water in Dortmund, but it is not a big minerally flavor.
- Mouthfeel: This is a medium beer, having a medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.
- Overall Impression: Overall this is a balanced beer with some malt sweetness and hop bitterness coming through. It is stronger than either the pilsner or the Munich Helles at 5.5%ABV.
- Comments: The Dortmunder Export above all is a balanced German lager. To maintain the balance, keep a close eye on your gravities and adjust on the fly if necessary. Take a pre-boil gravity and adjust with DME or brewing water if needed and take a FG reading and adjust if necessary too. Keep an eye on your rate of boil and measure your hops carefully and precisely. Watch your fermentation temperature and be sure you are adjusting for the temperature of the fermenter, and not the ambient temperature around the fermenter. Any good brewing water will work but you can add gypsum and chalk to very soft water to accentuate the hop bitterness.
- Ingredients: The water in Dortmund has high total alkalinity and high permanent hardness. The water also has a high sulfate content which will sometimes show up in the finished beer.
- Vital Statistics: OG: 1.048-1.056 FG: 1.010-1.015 IBUs: 23-30 SRM: 4-6 ABV: 4.8-6.0%.
- Commercial Examples: DAB Export, Dortmunder Union Export, Dortmunder Kronen, Ayinger Jahrhundert, Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold, Barrel House Duveneck’s Dortmunder, Bell’s Lager, Dominion Lager, Gordon Biersch Golden Export, Flensburger Gold
Information for this page was adapted from the BJCP Style Guidelines for 2008, the GABF style listing for 2007, Michael Jackson’s The Beer Hunter.com, and Germanbeerinstitute.com/Dortmunder.html