Altbier is a German top-fermenting beer brewed in Düsseldorf and other parts of North Rhine-Westphalia. The name Altbier, which means old beer, refers to the pre-lager brewing method of using a warm top-fermenting yeast. Over time the Alt yeast adjusted to lower temperatures, and the Alt brewers would store or lager the beer after fermentation, leading to a cleaner, crisper beer than is the norm for some other top-fermented beers such as British pale ale.
The Bavarian Reinheitsgebot (beer purity law) of 1516 did not affect brewers of the Rhineland. As such, the brewing traditions in this region developed slightly differently. For example, brewing during the summer was illegal in Bavaria, but the cooler climate of the Rhineland allowed Alt brewers to brew all year long and to experiment with storing fermented beer in cool caves and cellars. The first brewery to use the name Alt was Schumacher which opened in 1838. Alt is a dark, lagered, top-fermented beer that has some of the lean dryness of a lager but with fruity notes.
Regional variations of Alt 
Well known German Altbier that does not come from Düsseldorf is produced by the Pinkus Müller brewery in Münster, the Diebels brewery in Issum, the Gleumes brewery in Krefeld and the Bolten brewery in Korschenbroich.
Venlo, a city in the Netherlands on the German border near Düsseldorf, produced the first Dutch Altbier. Altbier is also brewed in small quantities in Austria, Switzerland, the United States and New Zealand.
Some Altbier breweries have a tradition of producing a somewhat stronger version known as Sticke Alt, coming from a local dialect word meaning "secret". It is generally a seasonal or special occasion brew, and is stronger and sometimes darker than the brewery's standard output.
Brewpub Alts 
There are nine bars in Düsseldorf which brew Altbier on the premises:
- Alter Bahnhof (Gulasch Alt) 
- Brauhaus Joh Albrecht (Johann Albrecht Alt) 
- Vereinshaus Unterbach (Unterbacher Dröppke) 
- Brauerei Möhker
Füchschen, Uerige, Schlüssel and Kürzer are all brewed and sold in the Old Town (Altstadt). Schumacher is located between the Altstadt and the main train station (Hauptbahnhof), although it also has a pub in the Altstadt, Goldener Kessel, directly across the street from Schlüssel. In 2012, Zum Schlüssel colloborated with the Creemore Springs brewery in Ontario, Canada to produce an Altbier.
Each brewpub produces a special, seasonal, secret-recipe version known as "Sticke" ["secret" in local dialect] in small quantities, though the names vary: Schlüssel spells it "Stike", without the "c", while Schumacher calls its special beer "Latzenbier", meaning "slat beer", possibly because the kegs from which it was poured had been stored on raised shelves. Füchschen's seasonal is its Weihnachtsbier (Christmas beer), available in bottles starting mid-November, and served in the brewpub on Christmas Eve.
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- "Great Basin Brewing". Nevada Brewers Guild. Retrieved 8 April 2013.
See also 
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