Tirol’s brewing landscape is diversifying. Small start-ups are appearing throughout the region, while larger and more established breweries are experimenting more than ever before. We put together a team of beer experts and set them the onerous task of selecting the top ten beers from Tirol. Cheers!
Freundsberg 66 / Schwazer Schwarze
Robert Holzleitner made a name for himself in Tirol’s culinary scene with his sausage in curry sauce served at Hurry Curry, but since 2014 the Bavarian native has also run his own small brewery in the village of Vomp. All beers are brewed according to the German beer purity law, which dictates that the only ingredients permitted are water, barley and hops. Austria’s “Beer Pope” Conrad Seidl is a regular visitor to Hurry Curry and is also a fan of Holzleitner’s Freundsberg 66 beer. Dark like the night and with a smoky-malty taste, this top-fermented black beauty is definitely something different. Drinkers will either love it or hate it!
Beer style: dark beer/ale
Aimed at: fans of dark, malt-rich beer willing to trying something different
Taste: coffee aroma, malty, slightly hoppy and smoky
Alcohol: 4.7% vol.
Original wort: 12°
Available: Hurry Curry, Vomp
Other beers: Fiechter Spitz (bottom-fermented special beer) and Kellerjoch (fruity, top-fermented beer)
Vilser Bergbräu / Hell
Beer was brewed in the small village of Vils 500 years ago, but it wasn’t until 2013 that this tradition was revived. Vils is located just a stone’s throw from the German border, in the far west of Tirol, and this location is reflected in its Vilser “Hellen” beer. The design is modern, but the content is full of tradition and strictly in line with the German beer purity law dating back to the 16th century. Unpasteurised, this pale lager beer has a refreshing taste with a hoppy finish.
Beer style: pale lager
Aimed at: fans of classic bottom-fermented beers
Taste: easy to drink, refreshing, rounded finish
Alcohol: 4.9% vol.
Original wort: 11.5°
Available: MPREIS supermarkets and selected locations in Innsbruck and around Reutte
Other beers: Hefeweizen, Lechweg Bier (pils), Zugspitz Bier (top-fermented beer), Schwarzer Krampalar (dark doppelbock), Tiroler Dunkel (bottom-fermented beer) and Kellerbier
Zillertal Bier / Tyroler Imperial Zwickl
The Zillertal Bier brewery from the village of Zell am Ziller has been making beer for more than 500 years. “Old barley, new beer” is the idea behind its Tyroler Imperial Zwickl, which bears the Qualität Tirol seal of approval. This naturally cloudy beer is made from 100% Fisser Imperial Barley. This ancient type of barley was forgotten for many years before being rediscovered by the brewing experts at Zillertal Bier. Our experts loved the Imperial Zwickl‘s full-bodied taste.
Beer style: Zwicklbier (unpasturised, naturally cloudy)
Aimed at: fans of traditional, unpasteurised beer
Taste: full-bodied, fruity, easy to drink
Alcohol: 5.7% vol.
Original wort: 13.2°
Available: in many supermarkets and selected locations throughout Tirol
Other beers: Zillertal Pils, Zillertal Märzen, Zillertal Weißbier and 13 futher specialties
Tiroler Bier / Zwickl Märzenbier
Harald Baumgartner is an institution in Innsbruck. He began making beer on a small scale 20 years ago, long before the hype around micro-breweries began. Today he and his sons produce 1,500 hectolitres of beer each year. His unfiltered, unpasteurised Märzenbier is a “thirst quencher”, he says. The term Märzen is specific to Austria and refers to a light or pale beer with a lower-than-normal alcohol concentration. The beer is available not only in standard bottles and one-litre bottles but also in two-litre XXL bottles – perfect for parties.
Beer style: unfiltered pale beer
Aimed at: fans of classic unpasteurised beer
Taste: slips down a treat
Alcohol: 4.5% vol.
Original wort: 12.3°
Available: from the brewery, at the Fruchthof Innsbruck, from Interspar Innsbruck and in selected locations
Other beers: light wheat beer and dark Christmas wheat beer
Bierol / Mountain Pale Ale
What do you get if you combine the words “Bier” and “Tirol”? Bierol! It was during stay in the US that Christoph Bichler fell in love with craft beer. Back home in Schwoich, he joined forces with his friends Max and Marko to launch a brewery in an old farmhouse. Five years later, the trio have received numerous awards, including from the renowned restaurant guide Gault & Millau. The Mountain Pale Ale is one of their flagship beers and is a classic “Tirolean IPA” – strong, hoppy and malty.
Beer style: Indian Pale Ale
Aimed at: individualists, IPA fans and those who like to experiment
Taste: hoppy, caramelised malt – a beer to enjoy and appreciate
Alcohol: 7.3% vol.
Original wort: 16°
Available: from the brewery, in the Bierol Taproom and in selected locations in Innsbruck.
Other beers: The Padawan (Pale Ale), Bomboclaat (Imperial Stout), El Patrón (Double IPA) and a dozen further varieties
Starkenberger / Tiroler Kraft
The Starkenberger brewery in Tarrenz has a long and proud brewing tradition dating back 200 years, during which it has been awarded numerous gold medals by the “Monde Selection”. Since 2017 this brewery has produced Tirol’s first organic beer in cooperation with the organisation „BIO vom BERG“. All of the barley used comes from organic farms in Tirol. “Tiroler Kraft“ is a classic unfiltered and unpasteurised light beer made according to the German beer purity law. Delicious!
Beer style: light beer (unfiltered)
Aimed at: fans of regional produce and lovers of traditional light beer
Taste: fresh, bitter, easy to drink
Alcohol: 4.8% vol.
Available: MPREIS supermarkets
Other beers: Gold Lager, Gold Spezial Hell/Dunkel, Schloss Pils, Bioperle, Festbock, Zwickl and many more.
Achensee Bier / Hefeweizen
Alois Rupprechter’s brewery in Pertisau is just a few kilometres from the German border, so maybe that is why he makes such excellent wheat beer. Using hops and barley from Bamberg and fresh spring water from the Karwendel Mountains, he creates a naturally cloudy what beer brewed in line with the German beer purity law. This top-fermented specialty is available both as a light wheat beer and as a dark wheat beer. Its fruity taste makes it the perfect thirst-quencher. In 2019 the Achensee Bier brewery was named Austria’s most popular mini-brewery by the beer and restaurant guide Falstaff.
Beer style: wheat beer
Aimed at: wheat beer fans, sports enthusiasts and traditionalists
Taste: bitter, yeasty, fruity with a touch of banana
Alcohol: 4.8% vol.
Original wort: 11.8°
Available: Karlwirt and Langlaufstüberl in Pertisau
Other beers: Achensee Hell and strong beers in autumn and winter
Tux 1280 / Alpine Amber Ale
Since autumn 2016, Neil Vousden and Timothy Jones have been making beer in Austria’s highest craft beer brewery. The number “1280” stands for the altitude of their adopted home, Tux-Lanersbach, and for the year in which the village was first mentioned. The reddish Alpine Amber Ale is made from fresh glacier water and has an intense, hoppy-malty taste. A percentage of each bottle sold goes towards supporting the local mountain rescue service in Tux.
Beer style: American Amber Ale
Aimed at: mountain rescuers, craft beer enthusiasts and fans of top-fermented beer
Taste: rich, malty flavour with a slightly bitter finish
Alcohol: 6.8% vol.
Original wort: 16.5°
Available: Online, from the brewery and in selected locations in the Zillertal Valley
Other beers: Wit Bier, Mountain Porter, Raspberry Beer, Tux Pale Ale
Theresienbräu / Pils
Lager accounts for 60% of all beer drunk in Austria. However, that is not the case at Theresienbräu in Innsbruck. This bar has its own micro-brewery run by Michal Perner, who has created a pils worthy of his Czech homeland. The “Theresien Pils” is surprisingly mild and therefore the perfect beer for hot summer days.
Beer style: pils
Aimed at: city strollers and fans of light beer
Taste: mild, hoppy, not too fizzy
Alcohol: 4.9 % vol.
Original wort: 12.2°
Available: Theresienbräu, Innsbruck
Other beers: Stammbräu, Weiße, Dunkel Spezial, Urbock 21° and Elderflower Beer
Zillertal Bier / Gauderbock
The Gauder Fest in Zell am Ziller is held each May and is the biggest traditional celebration anywhere in Austria. Indeed, in 2014 it was made part of UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage. The beer traditionally drunk at the Gauder Fest is the Gauderbock brewed by Zillertal Bier. At 7.8%, it is stronger than normal beers and brewed in September ready for the celebrations the following year. It is then left to rest for eight months and is only available to buy during the period around the Gauder Fest. If you see it, grab it – you never know if you will find it again!
Beer style: pale, strong beer
Aimed at: visitors to the Gauder Fest, fans of strong beer
Taste: full-bodied, well-balanced, surprisingly easy to drink
Alcohol: 7.8% vol.
Original wort: 16.8°
Available: at the Gauder Fest and in selected shops (while stocks last)
Other beers: Zillertal Pils, Zillertal Märzen, Zillertal Weißbier and 13 further specialties
Pssst… top tip!
Most breweries offer guided tours and tasting sessions. Beer fans on holiday in Innsbruck should check out the BierWelt.Tirol shop. Located just a stone’s throw from the city’s main tourist attractions, it offers a wide selection of beers. Owner and beer expert Igor will be happy to help you navigate your way through the range.
All photos: Johannes Sautner/Shoot+Style