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HomeGerman LifestyleDo you really know German beers? Find out here

Do you really know German beers? Find out here

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Beer is the German’s favorite alcoholic drink. So it’s no wonder that over 5,000 different German beers are produced in over 1,528 German breweries. 

Overall, the breweries and beer warehouses based in Germany sold around 8.7 billion liters of alcoholic German beer in 2020! With so much beer, of course, variety shouldn’t be neglected. The German variety of beer types is also known internationally. How many types of German beer do you know? Test your German beer knowledge using the following overview.

Altbier – traditional top-fermented beer

German beer

Altbier has been around from Westphalia to Saxony-Anhalt since the 13th century. It is a top-fermented beer with an alcohol content of around 4.8 percent. The dark, bitter beer owes its name to the old brewing method used to make it. Altbier is particularly popular in Düsseldorf. It owes its color to the kiln malt, which is particularly dark due to its longer roasting period. Read more here.

Fun fact:  Altbier vs. Kölsch, a battle of the regions – compared to Kölsch, Altbier is darker, a little bitter and bitter.

Alcohol: mostly 4-5%. 
Related
 to Kölsch, among others

Altbier: breweries and brands in Germany

  • Radeberger Group
  • Oettinger brewery
  • Diebels Brewery
  • Dab
  • Release
  • Rock crown
  • Hannen Alt
  • Frankenheim
  • Castles

Berliner Weisse – sour draft beer

German beer

The Berliner Weisse is brewed with a special fermentation process and therefore tastes slightly sour. This top-fermented beer has its origins in and around Berlin. Its alcohol content is often increased with caraway schnapps. Then it’s a Berliner Weisse with a string.

Fun fact:  Napoleon described the Berliner Weisse as the “champagne of the north”. Today this German beer is often served with a shot (e.g. raspberry syrup).

Alcohol:  mostly 3-5%. 
Related 
 to Gose, among others

Berliner Weisse: breweries and brands in Germany

  • Brewbaker Berliner Weisse
  • BRLO Weisse
  • Brewbaker Jahrgangsweisse 2015
  • Sunburst Sour
  • Oude Geuze Boon
  • Berliner Kindl Weisse

Bock – malty strong beer

Bock beer comes from the Hanseatic city of Einbeck and can already look back on 800 years of history. “Bock” is now a collective term for strong beers. It is dark in the classic form and tastes malty-sweet. Variants of the bock beer are the light Maibock, the Weizenbock with wheat malt and the Eisbock, from which the water is removed by freezing and thus the alcohol content is increased.

Fun fact:  The Bock beer season runs from September to May – Dunkelbock (dark malt), Festbock (Christmas time), Doppelbock or Fastenbock (stronger for Lent) to Maibock (lighter and more hoppy) belong to this type of German beer. 

Alcohol:  mostly 6-7%.
Related
 among others with Märzen
Unterstile among others Doppelbock

Bock: breweries and brands in Germany

  • Altenmünster Maibock Hell
  • Dithmarscher Maibock
  • Neunspringer Maibock
  • Darguner Maibock hell
  • Einbecker Mai Ur-Bock
  • Feldschlößchen Maibock
  • Flensburger Frühlingsbock
  • Haake-Beck Maibock
  • Herforder Maibock
  • Wolters Mai-Bock
  • Holsten Maibock
  • Pfungstädter Maibock
  • Barre Maibock
  • Hoepfner Maibock
  • Hofmühl Zickenbock
  • Münchner Hofbräu Maibock
  • Braustolz Maibock

Dunkles Bier – full bodied German beer

German beer

In terms of color, dark beer can be classified between light and black beer. Bottom-fermented beers of brown color are considered dark. They are brewed with dark malt with a high original gravity, i.e. as a full beer.

Dunkles Bier: breweries and brands in Germany

  • Fürst Carl Dunkel
  • Schlossbräu Porter
  • Vielanker Schwarz
  • Wolters Schwarzer Herzog
  • Karmeliten Kloster Dunkel
  • Landgang Dunkle Macht
  • Dithmarscher Dunkel
  • Allersheimer Landbier
  • Klüvers Dunkel
  • Westheimer Graf Stolberg Dunkel
  • Wittinger Stackmanns Dunkel
  • Eibauer Lausitzer Dunkel
  • Erdinger Hefe Dunkel
  • Fiedler Bock Dunkel
  • Franziskaner Hefe Weissbier Dunkel
  • Gessner Alt Sumbarcher Dunkel
  • Glückauf Bock Dunkel
  • Kloster Scheyern Gold Dunkel
  • König Ludwig Dunkel

Export – Durable beer varieties

German beer

Export beers have a particularly long shelf life because they are variants of other types of beer that were previously delivered beyond the city limits. Export beers are available as Pils, Helles, Weizen or Alt and can be of any color. In contrast to the usual variants of these German beers, export beers are brewed bottom-fermented and diluted with water at the point of delivery. The Wiener Export, the Dortmunder Export and the Münchner Export are particularly well-known.

Fun fact:  Export beer can be light or dark. The most popular is the Dortmunder Export (also Dortmunder Helles), but Munich and Wiener Export are also known.

Alcohol: mostly 5-6%. Related to,  among other things, light

Export Bier: breweries and brands in Germany

  • Augustiner Edelstoff
  • Braustolz Spezial
  • Wiener Export
  • Dortmunder Export
  • Münchner Export
  • Feldschlösschen Export
  • Freiberger Export
  • Hansa Export
  • Hasseröder Premium Export
  • Klausner Export
  • Lübzer Export
  • Mauritius Zwickauer Urtyp
  • Sternburg Export
  • Sternburg Export Alkoholfrei
  • Zötler Gold
  • Ayinger Jahrhundert Bier
  • Schlappeseppel Export
  • Glaabsbräu Export
  • Weltenburger Kloster Spezial Festbier
  • Engel Gold
  • Faust Export Ur-Hell
  • Riegele Würziges Export
  • Ganter Export
  • Nittenauer Sonnengold

Gose – traditional beer from the east

German beer

This light wheat beer comes from Saxony and Thuringia and could be seen as the original form of top-fermented beers. Even Emperor Otto III. liked this beer. It is still brewed top-fermented in Leipzig today. It is similar to the Berliner Weisse, because it is also often drunk with caraway liqueur or with currant juice and tastes yeasty and sour without any addition.

Fun fact:  Gose actually comes from Goslar, today it is best known for the Leipzig brewery “Leipziger Bahnhof” and is therefore called Leipziger Gose.

Alcohol:  mostly 4-5%. 
Related: 
 to Berliner Weisse, among others

Gose : breweries and brands in Germany

  • Leipziger Gose
  • Ritterguts Gose
  • Bier Hirsch Gose
  • Rügener Insel Brauerei Baltic Gose
  • Alemania Ale-Mania Gose

Kölsch – Cologne sour beer

German beer

The Kölsch is a regional variety of German brewing art. The term “Kölsch” is protected and may only be used for beers from the city of Cologne. It is traditionally drunk from the Kölsch bar. In it it forms white foam on clear-yellow beer and unfolds its slightly sour taste ideally. It has little carbonic acid and is brewed top-fermented. It is in cultural competition with the Düsseldorf Altbier. Both beers have an alcohol content of around 4.8 percent.

Fun fact: A distinction can be made between an old and a new Kölsch. The old Kölsch was dark, had hardly any foam and only had a short shelf life. In return, the alcohol content was higher than in today’s variant. The new Kölsch is light in color, the foam lasts much longer and the shelf life can also be described as long.

Alcohol: just under 5%

Taste: The taste of Kölsch can be described as fresh , but still slightly bitter.

Kölsch : breweries and brands in Germany

  • Bischoff Kölsch
  • Dom Kölsch
  • Früh Kölsch
  • Gaffel Kölsch
  • Ganser Kölsch
  • Gilden Kölsch
  • Küppers Kölsch
  • Mühlen Kölsch
  • Päffgen Kölsch
  • Peters Kölsch
  • Reissdorf Kölsch
  • Richmodis Kölsch
  • Sester Kölsch
  • Sion Kölsch
  • Sünner Kölsch
  • Zunft Kölsch

Helles/Märzen – ideal summer beer

German beer

The Helles /Märzen beer was traditionally brewed in spring and drunk in summer. Hence the name. The reason for this was a ban in Bavaria on brewing beer between April 23 and September 29, as there was an increased risk of fire. So the beer had to last all summer. It has a high original gravity and high alcohol content, which makes it a popular beer for summer parties. Even today it is mainly produced in Austria and Bavaria.

Fun fact:  The Helles /Märzen beer is not only popular in southern Germany, but also in Austria. There it is called Märzen, but it is like a German Helles (and not a German Märzen).

Alcohol mostly 4-5%. 
Related
 among others with Märzen 
Unterstile among others Münchner Hell

Helles/Märzen : breweries and brands in Germany

  • Augustiner Brauerei
  • Hacker Pschorr
  • Hofbräu Brauerei
  • Löwenbräu
  • Paulaner
  • Spaten Bräu

Lager – beer with a low original gravity

German beer

Lager was originally beer that was stored in the cellar for several months. Today all bottom-fermented beers are called lager. However, the name is still being differentiated, because in Germany every bottom-fermented beer with an original gravity of less than 12.5 percent is a lager, provided it is not a Pilsner. Everywhere else, bottom-fermented beer according to the German purity law is a lager.

Fun fact: The dark color of the lager comes from the fact that the malt is processed at a high temperature. This process is called “drying”.

Alcohol: contains between 4.5 and 5.6 percent alcohol by volume

Related: Due to its lengthy storage, lager beer is sometimes confused with cellar beer. The naturally cloudy cellar beer, also known as Zwickelbier, comes unfiltered onto the table “straight from the cellar”. The name has nothing to do with the storage time after the fermentation process.

Lager: breweries and brands in Germany

  • Heineken
  • Augustiner Lager Hell
  • Chiemseer Hell
  • Corona Extra
  • Budweiser Budvar Imported Lager
  • Tegernsee Hell
  • Paulaner Münchner light
  • Wirtsmadl Bavarian Hell 1516
  • Bitburger light lager gluten-free
  • Carlsberg Beer
  • Bayreuth brewery light
  • Chiemseer Hell
  • Faxe Premium Lager
  • Hacker-Pschorr Münchner Hell
  • Paulaner Original Münchner Hell
  • Spaten Munich light
  • Löwenbräu Original
  • Corona Mexican Beer
  • Tegernsee light
  • Benedictine light
  • Budweiser Budvar Premium Lager
  • Hacker-Pschorr Münchner Hell
  • Löwenbräu original can
  • Hacker Pschorr Münchner Hell
  • Löwenbräu Original
  • Oettinger Vollbier Hell
  • Schimpfle Lösch-Zwerg spicy
  • Weltenburger Urtyp light

Pils – Originally Czech

German beer

The Pils is the most famous German beer, although the recipe is originally from the Czech city of Pilsen. It is a bottom-fermented full beer that can be brewed quickly and cheaply, which is why it spread quickly. Its strong hops note and the light, clear color are unmistakable. 

In Germany it is the most widely brewed and drunk beer. Important: “Pilsner” describes the type, not the origin of the beer. A beer from the city of Pilsen is called “Pilsner Urquell”. Find out more about Pils beer here.

Fun fact: If you don’t like the pure taste of Pils or if you feel like a little variety, you can mix the light beer with other components and create delicious mixed drinks in this way. Radler and Alsterwasser are certainly among the mixed beer drinks that are most widespread.

Alcohol: typically around 4.5%–5% (by volume)

Lager: breweries and brands in Germany

  • Beck’s Pils
  • Veltins Pilsener
  • Original Pils
  • Flensburger Pilsener
  • Krombacher Pils
  • Jever Pilsener
  • Bitburger Pils
  • Warsteiner
  • Veltins Pilsener Dose
  • Rothaus Pils Tannenzäpfle
  • Holsten Pilsener
  • Rothaus Pils Tannenzäpfle
  • König Pilsener
  • Radeberger Pilsner
  • Neumarkter Lammsbräu Edelpils Bio
  • Original Oettinger Pils
  • Allgäuer Büble Edelbräu
  • Flensburger Pilsener
  • Hasseröder Premium Pils
  • Pilsner Urquell
  • Holsten Pilsener
  • Neumarkter Lammsbräu Zzzisch Bio Edel Pils
  • Beck’s Unfiltered Pils
  • Krusovice 12°

Rauchbier – Bamberg smoky note

German beer

Smoked beer comes from the Bamberg region. A specific malt is used for production. It is fired on the kiln with beech wood and gives the beer its smoky note, reminiscent of smoked ham. This bottom-fermented full beer is becoming more and more popular in craft beer breweries and hobby breweries, because the memorable smoke aroma, together with the hop bitterness and the strong malt taste, invite you to experiment. This creates different varieties of smoked beer in light to dark brown colors with a pleasant red shade.

Fun fact: This taste reminds one or the other of smoked ham. This special aroma gives the beer drinker an approximate impression of how beer used to taste.

Rauchbier: breweries and brands in Germany

  • Rauchbier Märzen
  • Rauchweizen
  • Rauchbier Urbock
  • Eiche Doppelbock
  • Fastenbier
  • Rauchbier Kräusen
  • Hansla alkoholarm
  • Helles LagerHelles Lager
  • Jahrgangsbier
  • Rittmayer Rauchbier
  • Grosch Anno 1492
  • Spezial Rauchbier
  • Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier
  • Bayreuther Rauchmärzen
  • Brobier Rauchbier
  • Frauendorfer Rauchbier
  • Hummel Räucherla
  • Huppendorfer Grachäds
  • Klosterbräu Rauchbier
  • Schlenkerla Hell
  • Schlenkerla Rauchbier

Schwarzbier – deep black and hoppy

German beer

German Schwarzbier comes from Saxony, Thuringia and Brandenburg. The use of particularly dark malt gives the beer its mostly deep black color. The bottom-fermented beer is very full-bodied and, in the German variants, has a bitter hoppy taste.

Schwarzbier: breweries and brands in Germany

  • Störtebeker Schwarzbier
  • Köstritzer Schwarzbier
  • Neuzeller Klosterbräu Schwarzer Abt
  • Eibauer Schwarzbier
  • Freiberger Brauhaus Freibergisch Schwarzbier
  • Bamberger Klosterbräu Schwärzla
  • Braufactum Darkon Schwarzbier
  • Buddelship Kohlentrimmer Schwarzbier
  • Pfungstädter 1831 Schwarzbier
  • Kozel Cerny
  • Budweiser Budvar Tmavy Lezák
  • Breznak Schwarzbier
  • Krusovice Cerne
  • Mönchshof Schwarzbier
  • Schwarzer Steiger
  • Landskron Pupen-Schultzes Schwarzes
  • Schwaben Bräu Das Schwarze
  • Lübzer Schwarzbier
  • Oettinger Schwarzbier
  • Hasseröder Schwarz
  • Ur-Krostitzer Schwarzes
  • Märkischer Landmann
  • Pyraser Schwarzbier
  • Freibergisch Schwarzbier
  • Apoldaer Schwarzer Esel
  • Buddelship Kohlentrimmer
  • Sankt Jaro Schwarzbier
  • Klosterbräu Bamberger Schwärzla
  • Schussenrieder Schwarzbier N°1
  • Fiedler Magisterbräu Schwarzbier
  • Altenburger Schwarzes
  • Sternburg Schwarzbier
  • Faust Schwarzviertler Dunkel
  • Moritz Fiege Schwarzbier

Weizen (Wheat) – traditional Bavarian beer

German beer

The wheat or wheat beer is one of the most famous beers from southern Germany. The top-fermented full beer is made with wheat malt. Depending on the filtration, the cloudy variant is called Hefeweizen and the clear variant is called Kristallweizen. The fruity-spicy taste is common to both variants.

Color & foam: light yellow to strong dark amber, all degrees of cloudiness possible, strong foam

Smell: depending on the subspecies, citrus notes, banana, clove, spices, yeast

Taste: usually sweet and fruity, also honey-like, soft and mild

Alcohol content: depending on the subspecies, 4.8% to 8.5%

Weizen: breweries and brands in Germany

  • Paulaner
  • Weihenstephan
  • Franciscan
  • Schneider Weisse
  • Maisel’s
  • Erdinger
  • Spaten-Franziskaner-Bräu.
  • Schöfferhofer.
  • Tucher Bräu.
  • Neumarkter Lammsbräu.
  • Kulmbacher.
  • Brauerei Gebr. Maisel.
  • Oettinger

Zwickel – Sweet, fruity and healthy

German beer

The Zwickelbier is a special variety of German beer, because it is drunk directly after the secondary fermentation process. Cold storage is not required. Zwickel is not filtered, which means that all natural suspended matter remains in the beer. This makes the beer particularly rich and valuable. However, this makes it less durable and should therefore be enjoyed quickly.

The Zwickelbier is one of the bottom-fermented types of beer with an original wort that is between 11.5 percent and 13 percent.

The alcohol content is around 5 percent.

The characteristic appearance is amber and the taste is determined by a spicy, full-bodied note .

The specialty is that the tartness of the hops and the aroma of the malt are well balanced. Because the post-fermentation process does not take place, it is one of the less sparkling types of beer. For this reason alone, it is easier to digest than other beers.

Weizen: breweries and brands in Germany

  • Brauhaus Döbler Freilandmuseum Zwickl
  • Brauhaus Döbler Reichsstadtbier
  • Wildbräu Zwickl
  • Neumarkter Kellerbier naturtrüb BIO
  • Michael Weißenstädter Kellerbier
  • Simsseer Stephanskirchner Zwickl
  • Nörten-Hardenberg – ZWICKEL
  • Egerer – BAYRISCH ZWICKEL
  • Rostocker ZWICKEL NATURTRÜB
  • Waldhaus OHNE FILTER – EXTRA HERB
  • St.Georgen Bräu – KELLER BIER
  • Zirndorfer Kellerbier
  • Waldhaus OHNE FILTER – NATURTRÜB
  • Störtebeker KELLERBIER 1402 Naturtrüb

Top-fermented vs. bottom-fermented

Basically, German beer types are divided into top-fermented and bottom-fermented. This is quite simply due to the way it is brewed.

  • Top-fermented beer styles  are brewed with top-fermented yeast, which floats on the surface during fermentation (= top-fermented). Since the brewing temperature is a bit warmer (up to 25 degrees), the older styles are usually brewed like this, e.g. Altbier, Gose, Saison, but also Kölsch or wheat beer.
  • Bottom-fermented beer styles  are brewed with bottom-fermented yeast. This sinks during brewing (= bottom-fermented), the brewing temperature is lower (usually 5 to 15 degrees). All year round, these have only been produced since the invention of the refrigeration machine in 1876 and therefore enjoyed a boom in the 19th century, such as the Pils or Helle.

A distinction is made between ale and lager (top-fermented vs. bottom-fermented), so a German lager and an English lager do not necessarily have to be the same.

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