NOTE: In the 2015 BJCP Style Guidelines, Dortmunder Export has been renamed and reclassified. It is now Style 5C German Helles Exportbier in Category 5 Pale Bitter European Beer which describes German-origin beers that are pale and have an even to bitter balance with a mild to moderately strong hoppy character featuring classic German hops. They are generally bottom-fermented or are lagered to provide a smooth profile, and are well-attenuated as are most German beers.
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.
Dortmunder Export Description From 2008 BJCP Style Guidelines:
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.
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