Tough and Hearty as the People who Drank It
About the Beer Maker
It ought not to come as a surprise that the beer the Dortmund brewers made for their hard-working patrons was as tough and hearty as the people who drank it. When a miner got off his shift all showered but exhausted after eight hours of jack-hammering chunks of coal from the rock in a dark, dusty, hot, and dangerous shaft, what he needed was a beer he could respect.
There was nothing wimpy about the lager from this stark, no-nonsense region of coal, steel, and sweat.
Beer making in Dortmund goes back a long way. In 1293, the private burghers of the city of Dortmund were among the first "civilian" feudal subjects to receive the right to brew (before that it was reserved for the clergy and nobility), and they never relinquished it.
Over the years, the fine burghers of Dortmund made such good use of the privilege that, by the end of the 19th century, Dortmund boasted about 150,000 inhabitants and almost 30 breweries ; and by World War I, Dortmund had become the largest brew center in Europe. Even today, to the chagrin of Bavarians, Dortmund's annual beer production is still a tad larger than Munich's. Both cities produce about five-and-a-half million hectoliters (approx. 4.5 million barrels) of beer a year.
Times have changed in the Ruhr District since the post-World-War-II boom. As we move into the globalized economy of the 21st century, a rapid socio-economic restructuring has taken place, which has led to the closure of all the coal mines, and the few steel mills that remain are in trouble, too. As the District's economic base changed, so did its tastes. In line with the modern, more edgy taste in beer, the beer of choice in this erstwhile rough-neck region is the Pils-style lager.
In today's Dortmund, there are effectively only two breweries left. There is the Dortmunder Actien-Brauerei (DAB), which markets its "world famous Dortmunder" under the name of "DAB Original."
About the Beer
This is a wonderful beer, 4.9% in alcohol, with a thick, white head and a clear, bubbly, golden straw appearance. It has an aroma of sweet, rich barley malt and a flavour of very grassy, bitter hops, sweet, biscuit grain, and clean water.