A significant aspect of German culture is beer. Beer in Germany is made by the Reinheitsgebot, which only allows water, hops, and malt to be used.
It also mandates that beers that do not primarily use barley malt, such as wheat beers, must undergo top fermentation.
1. Beer in Germany
Germans enjoy their beer. As a result, it is hardly surprising that over 1,300 breweries in Germany produce 7,000 different types of beer.
A sizable portion of this beer in Germany is located in Bavaria’s southern area, whose capital city, Munich, is the site of the renowned Oktoberfest beer festival.
Beer is consumed all over Germany typically with meals or accompanied by the preferred bar snack, lightly salted pretzels.
Brewing technology has advanced to the point that it may have inspired Europe’s first food purity legislation, which Duke William IV of Bavaria established in 1516 and is still in effect today.
2. History of German Beer
Beer has a long history and was sometimes known as “liquid bread“—possibly because of the yeast it contains.
Germany has a long and distinguished history with the golden drink. Since 1000 AD, German monks have been making beer for the general public. These beer-loving monasteries were mostly located in southern Germany, and several of them are still operational today. Weihenstephan, which was founded in 1040, is the oldest of them.
Even though it might seem absurd today, centuries ago, giving alcohol to young infants was normal. This is because it was safer than water and had a lot of calories. Beer became an even better choice in the 16th century because of the German Beer Purity Law.
3. German Beer Purity Law
In Bavaria, the Deutsches Reinheitsgebot, often known as the German Beer Purity Law, went into force in 1516. This law stated that only pure water, hops, and malt could be used to make Bavarian beer.
Later, scientists discovered the importance of yeast for fermentation. The list of components was expanded to include yeast, bringing the total to four. However, German purity laws were not limited to Bavaria.
It spread slowly across Germany over the years until it became the main statute controlling breweries in the nation in 1906. The Beer Purity Legislation is now the oldest food law in existence.
German beer stands apart from many others due to its concentration on utilizing only four ingredients. It offers a crisp, unadulterated taste while preserving traditional artisan beer-making methods.
Any sort of beer cannot be made with more than four basic components due to the Purity Law.
4. Famous Beer in Germany
It is the origin of lager, a drink that is vibrant and flavorful. In reality, the term “lager” refers to the process of storing beer in the cold rather than a particular type of beer. It’s no secret that they enjoy drinking beer.
The Reinheitsgebot, or German Beer Purity Law, which dates back to the sixteenth century, is also applied to the majority of German breweries.
They didn’t realize at the time that yeast caused beer to ferment; therefore, it says just water, malt, and hops could be used to produce brews.
All of this results in a wide variety of the best beer in Germany, but it can be confusing to navigate the menu in a busy Munich beer hall or even at bottle shops and online merchants.
4.1 Helles or Dunkles Lagered Beer
Drunkles, beer in Germany is a dark beer with a strong malt flavour and barely perceptible hops that debuted first. It’s a popular beer during winter and goes well with schweinshaxe, a traditional Munich beer hall dish of roasted ham hock.
Originating in Munich and Dortmund, this beer is regarded as a working-class style. It is usually served in small bars or large beer hall steins. This bottom-fermented beer has less bitterness and more prominent malt flavours.
The colour depends on how much the malt was roasted and ranges from light to dark.
Oktoberfest and Märzen have a crisp, nutty, bready flavour with a noticeable malty influence.
Many breweries, including Löwenbrau, Hacker-Pschorr, Hofbrähaus, Paulaner, Franziskaner, Augustiner, and Spaten, export significant amounts of their products each year.
Tasting Notes: Chocolate, Malt, Bread
Pilsner beer is classified as “pale beer” in Germany. This is regarded as an elegant, high-class beer.
Because of the high pressure and carbonation, it takes around 7 minutes to pour fresh pilsner from the tap into the recognizable long-neck pilsner glass.
The Pilsner beer style was introduced to the world of beer relatively late, about 1842, by German brewmaster Josef Groll in Pilsen, Bohemia, today in the Czech Republic.
Pilsner is bottom-fermented, pale in colour, and has an unmistakably bitter, “hoppy” flavour and fragrance.
It contains between 4% and 5.2% alcohol. Leading brands include Radeberger, Bitburger, Warsteiner, and Krombacher.
In spite of being one of the most challenging beers to manufacture, Pilsner lager became the most popular beer in the world after German and Czech immigrants brought it to the USA, the UK, and several other nations.
It is light, fresh, and transparent at its best, with a trace of earthiness from the Saaz hops.
Tasting Notes: Malt, Floral, Lemon
4.3 Weißbier (Wheat Beer): Kristall, Hefe and Dark larger
Weißbier, or wheat beer, is a type of beer in Germany. This top-fermented beer, which is mostly enjoyed in southern Germany, is served in tall, slim glasses and has an alcohol content of 5.8%. It has a refreshing citrus flavour.
You guessed it: the malt contains a mixture of barley and wheat. It might be challenging to pour wheat beer, or Weißbier, from a bottle. The glass is first submerged in water. Otherwise, all you get is plenty of beer froth that is spilling.
There are three varieties of Weißbier: Kristall (clear, filtered), Hefe (cloudy, yellow, with some remnants of wheat and yeast), and Dunkel (roasted dark malt). Schneider Weisse and Augustiner Weisse are two favourites among insiders in Munich.
You’ll grab the lavish Weissbier, a wheat beer, in that tall, curved glass when standing and viewing the Alps or after a tiring day of skiing.
In German, these beers are often hazy. Hefeweizen, in particular, has a yeasty flavour (“hefe” means yeast), which frequently suggests bananas and a spicy clove scent.
4.4 Berliner Weisse
Berliner Weisse beer in Germany comes under the category of wheat beer. This beer has a delicious, refreshing flavour and dates back roughly 300 years to the capital of Germany.
Berliner Weisse, which is fermented using a combination of brewer’s yeast and lactic acid bacteria, contains roughly 7% wort and just 2.4% alcohol content, in contrast to Munich wheat beer.
As a result, the beer has a mildly sour, crisp taste that is sweetened with woodruff (green) or raspberry extract. A spicy summertime staple served in large glasses.
It was only a matter of time until the obscure Berliner Weisse made a comeback, given the ongoing demand for sour beers in the craft beer industry. And for that, be grateful. This summer beer is often cheek-suckingly acidic, low in alcohol (2.5–4%), and session-able.
Don’t overlook Salty Gose, a close relative. A fruity wheat beer called Berliner Weisse has a sour, acidic flavour that originates from the lactobacillus bacteria employed in the brewing process. Berliner Weisse initially gained popularity in the 19th century and is often consumed in the summertime.
4.5 Rauchbier (Smoked Beer)
Rauchbier, a beer in Germany, comes under the category of dark beers. Brewers in Bamberg, Northern Bavaria, had that mindset when they added beechwood smoke to the malted barley.
Rauchbier is a bottom-fermented beer that ranges in colour from amber to dark and has an alcohol percentage and wort comparable to Schwarzbier or mild Bockbier.
Bacon! Want to sip on some bacon? This is the closest you’ll come, but I doubt you’ve ever given it any attention.
You need a highly specific method that involves drying malted barley over open flames to manufacture rauchbier. This results in a distinct, smoky flavour that is deep and complex and goes excellently with meat.
Tasting Notes: Smoke, Roasted malt, Meat
5. Beer in Germany: Customs and Traditions about Drinking
German visitors don’t have the same reputation for binge drinking as British tourists do. Even though beer drinking is a huge aspect of German culture and is frequently appreciated, it is uncommon to encounter Germans who are fully inebriated.
Germans are quite easygoing about drinking beer, despite their self-control. Before you can drive a car or cast a ballot in a presidential election, you may consume beer at age 16.
This licensing age only applies to wine and beer; for spirits and other “harder” beverages, the minimum age is 18.
It could be useful for you to be aware of their amusing and peculiar drinking beliefs, which include:
- You clink your glasses and stare, being careful not to cross your arms. Although the effects of this are not immediately apparent, it’s bad!
- If you don’t want to get criticized and meet with astonished looks, don’t think of drinking Weizenbier straight from the bottle. There’s a legitimate explanation for this one: the yeast must be able to spread, therefore a wide-topped glass is necessary.
- Enjoy Die Feuerzangenbowle, a unique take on mulled wine. This drink, which translates as “fire tongs punch,” must be consumed with tongs. A bowl of mulled wine is placed over a sugarloaf that has been set ablaze, with the caramelized remains pouring over the tongs. Once melted, you sip the oddly delectable concoction.
- Would you like a drink for breakfast? No issue. Hefeweizen, a distinctive style of malted beer, is frequently consumed in the middle of the morning in Bavaria.
6. Wrapping Up
German culture is often associated with Oktoberfest and the well-known German love of beer. This isn’t simply a cliche; beer is consumed throughout Germany at all hours of the day because Germans adore it.
It’s even feasible to have a beer with a late breakfast without getting in trouble if you choose the appropriate sort of beer!
Beer in Germany is a significant element of German culture, with each person downing an astonishing 106 litres annually. Beer in Germany comes in a wide variety, as the lengthy list above demonstrates.
Due to Germany’s proficiency in creating these beers, there is not only a high demand for them domestically but also internationally.
Other common beers, such as the fruity hefeweizen and crisp kölsch, were also given to us by the nation that apparently runs on beer in the same way that America supposedly runs on Dunkin’.
There are many American brewers that have drawn inspiration from these historic types and are dedicated to exposing them to a new generation of drinkers, even though some German beer varieties are rarely accessible in the United States.
The top German beers available right now are highlighted in the list put together.