Beer in Austria
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Austrian beers come in a wide variety of styles, and many small breweries are scattered across the country, though a few larger breweries dominate markets. Austrian brewers were never subject to the tight restrictions of the Reinheitsgebot, and as a result more variety remains in Austria than in Germany. The most common style of beer is similar to the German Märzen, though the Austrian style is distinct.
Among Styrian breweries, in the south, are the popular Gösser, Puntigamer, and Murauer brands. Hirter is produced in the town of Hirt in Carinthia. In Lower Austria, Egger, Zwettler, Schwechater, and Wieselburger predominate. In Vienna, Ottakringer is brewed.
From the more westerly parts of Austria come Kaiser, Zipfer and Kapsreiter in Upper Austria. Upper Austria is also home to famous Freistadt beer (Freistädter Bier). The brewery's organization is unique in that the brewery is a commune-owned and operated by those individuals who own a house within the city walls, thus the name of the town Freistadt (free-city). Continuing West, Salzburg is home to Stiegl, as well as Augustiner Bräu (not related to the German one) and Edelweiss. Weizenbier (wheat beer) is the most popular type of beer in this region. From Tyrol and Vorarlberg come Falkenstein, Frastanzer, Mohrenbräu, Starkenberger, Zillertaler, Fohrenburger and Der Wilde (Wildschönau Brewery).
Freistädter - "Frisch. Frei. Freistädter." ("Fresh. Free. Freistädter.").
Gösser - "Gut, besser, Gösser." ("Good, better, Gösser").
Stiegl - "Es muss ein Stiegl sein." ("It's gotta be a Stiegl").
Egger - "My home is my Egger."
Puntigamer - "Das 'bierige' Bier." ("The 'beery' beer").
Ottakringer - "Warum erfrischt mich das Ottakringer bloß so? Bloß so." ("Why does Ottakringer refresh me just like that? Just like that.")
Villacher - "Die brau'n sich was, die Kärntner! (play on words - brew (brauen) and dare (trauen) rhyme in german language. They know to brew something, those Carinthians!)
Kaiser - "Hast ein Kaiser, bist ein Kaiser" ("Got a Kaiser, then you are a Kaiser.", Kaiser is the German word for Emperor deriving from Caesar)
Zipfer - "Ein Glas heller Freude ("A glass of delightful joy", play on words - "helle Freude" means "delightful joy", but "Helles" is also a type of beer)
Murauer - "Rein das Beste" ("Purely the best")
One of the most common brands of beer to be found in Austria is Stiegl ("little stair" or "little step"), founded in 1492. Stiegl brews both a helles (a light lager) and a Weissbier (Hefeweizen), as well as other specialty beers, including a grapefruit Radler. Stiegl is the most popular beer of Austria that isn't owned by Brau Union and is known for its slightly sour taste.
The brewery has a large museum of beer and beer making on the outskirts of Salzburg, a tour of which ends in a visit to the pub for a beer on the house.
Ottakringer from Vienna can be found more often in the eastern provinces. Over the past decades, it has earned somewhat of a cult status leading the company to name one of their canned variants "16er-Blech" (Ottakring is the 16th district of Vienna, "Blech" a slang term for a tin can). Ottakringer raised some attention for supplying Rock-Festival campers in Austria with chilled "Ottarocker" branded cans on-site for a reasonable price, thus removing the need for campers to carry their beer-supplies all the way to the festival.
In Vorarlberg is also a beer brand called Egger Bier, which is brewed by a brewery in Egg, Bregenzerwald. This led to a lawsuit with the above-mentioned Egger from Lower Austria, which ended in an agreement between the two breweries. So, when buying an Egger in Vorarlberg you get one from Egg, whereas in the rest of Austria it will be from Lower Austria.
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