Types of German Beer
It is said that you can drink a different German beer every day for 15 years before you need to have the same one again. But within those thousands of beers are some key, specific varieties of the drink that you should familiarize yourself with.
Pale lager is the most common beer in Germany and includes varieties such as export, Helles, and, of course, pilsner beers. Pilsner is characterized by a light body, a hoppy flavor, and a typical ABV of around 4.5-5%. Pilsner accounts for almost two-thirds of all beer enjoyed in Germany. It is commonly served in a tulip glass usually in a choice of 300 or 500 ml - roughly comparable to the UK's half pint or pint measures.
Dark lagers tend to be both bitter and sweeter as well as more malty. They also tend to be stronger with ABVs ranging from 5% up to 12%. Types of dark lager include Altbier and Bock.
Wheat beers may be labelled as both Weizenbier, Hefeweizen (both mean ‘wheat beer’) or Weißbier (white beer). It is a light-colored, top-fermenting beer with a higher proportion of wheat to barley. Wheat beer is sold in bottled and decanted into dedicated glasses that can hold around 500 ml of beer but also have space for the large frothy 'head'. Dark (Dunkel) versions are also popular.
Conditioned in a similar way to English cask ale is German unfiltered lager, known as Kellerbier (cellar beer) or the weaker Zwickelbier. Naturally cloudy thanks to the retention of the yeast, and either top or bottom fermented, it is much less carbonated than standard lagers and tends to be stronger in taste.
Beer with mixers
For a country with such purist brewing laws, it may come as a surprise that many Germans ask for their beer to be mixed with a soft drink to make it lighter. Radler (lemonade and lager 50/50) resembles a British shandy, and it is sometimes known as a Russ when the beer is Wheat Beer. The terms Diesel, Krefelder and Colabier all refer to beer and cola mixed 50/50.
The biggest selling German breweries are:
The big, commercial breweries tend to be located in the north of the country, whilst the smaller, more traditional breweries are found to the south. In total, there are around 1,300 breweries in Germany, together producing 5,000 brands of beer.
Much of the beer made in Germany is exported - in fact, Germany produces a third of the world's beer and boasts 15,000 beer brands. In trendy cities such as Berlin, craft beer is enjoying huge popularity.
German Beer Festivals
Around the time of the harvest (late September, early October), traditional beer festivals take place all over Germany. The most famous of course is the Munich Oktoberfest festival, which attracts over six million visitors each year. More than just a celebration of beer, attendees dress up in traditional Bavarian clothes and enjoy entertainment and a funfair too.
Only beer over 6% which has been brewed in the Munich area can be served. Each year, around seven million liters of beer are enjoyed at this major event. Other Oktoberfests take place in Stuttgart, Berlin, and Frankfurt, so wherever you are in Germany, you are never that far from a beer festival