At a glance

Address

Verband der Ausfuhrbrauereien Nord-, West- und Suedwestdeutschlands e.V.
Sonninstrasse 28
20097 Hamburg
Germany

E-Mail: vab@wga-hh.de
Tel.: +49 40 - 236016 - 13
Fax: +49 40 - 236016 - 10

Contact

Managing Director:
Dr. Rodger Wegner

Assistant to the management:
Petra Schroeder

German beer variety

A good beer is generally not alone

With their outstanding brewing instincts and delight in innovation, German brewers have managed to take the ingredients prescribed in the purity law – water, malt, hops and yeast – and create a diversity of varieties and brands that is unique in the world. In Germany there are over 1200 breweries, which together produce around 5000 different beers: A true paradise for all beer-lovers who, in theory, could spend more than 13.5 years in Germany sampling and enjoying a new beer every day!

 

German beer varieties

Altbier ("Old")

Altbier ("Old")

Regions of popularity

Concentrated in the Lower Rhine region and in Duesseldorf; available nationwide

Beer type

Vollbier

Original extract in %

Average 11.5

Alcohol content in % vol.

Appr. 4.8

Fermentation type

Top-fermenting

Characteristics

Dark amber-coloured, hoppy, crystal-clear beer

Brewing process

Fermented with top-fermenting yeast between 15 and 20 degrees Celsius

History

Original, traditional brewing method allowing beer to ferment and mature at higher ambient temperatures

Serving conventions

Altbier is drunk from short, compact 0.2l glasses or special Altbier goblets, often served on tap

Berlin wheat beer

Berlin wheat beer

Regions of popularity

Principally in and around Berlin

Beer type

Schankbier ('draught')

Original extract in %

7 - 8

Alcohol content in % vol.

Appr. 2.8

Fermentation type

Top-fermenting

Characteristics

Lively, somewhat yeast-cloudy, dark yellow beer with a slightly acidic flavour

Brewing process

Made from barley and wheat malts; the extract is fermented by a combination of top-fermenting yeast and lactic acid bacteria

History

First documented in 1642, the main beverage of Berlin in the last century; represented an improvement over the original Halberstaedter Broihans

Serving conventions

Served in bottles and cans; best consumed at 8 - 10 degrees Celsius

Miscellaneous

Highly popular summer beverage; Berliner Weisse used to be served with caraway or grain, nowadays a shot of woodruff or raspberry syrup goes in the glass before filling it with the beer; usually served with a straw

Bock

Bock

Regions of popularity

Dark 'Starkbier' (strong beers) mainly popular in the south; lighter ones (e.g. Maibock) more popular in northern Germany

Beer type

Starkbier

Original extract in %

16 +

Alcohol content in % vol.

Appr. 7

Fermentation type

Bock and Doppelbock bottom-fermenting (incl. Bavarian 'Fastenstarkbiere' for fasting), Weizenbock top-fermenting

Characteristics

Full-bodied, golden, golden-brown or dark brown in colour

Brewing process

More malt is used in brewing than for a pilsner for example, which increases the original extract content

History

Comes from the City of Einbeck near Hannover in northern Germany, known since 1351; from 1615 on it was brewed in Munich by Einbeck master brewer Elias Pilcher; "Ainpoeckisch" beer became known as "Bock" beer.

Serving conventions

Best served between 8 and 10 degrees Celsius

Miscellaneous

Seasonal product: Maibock, Weihnachtsbock, Fastenstarkbier for May, Christmas and fasting respectively; in Bavaria the Fastenstarkbier season is known as the "fifth season of the year"; in Munich around Saint Joseph's Day (19 March) the solemn Salvator keg-opening ceremony is held on the Nockherberg

Koelsch

Koelsch

Regions of popularity

Principally in Cologne metropolitan area and surrounding region

Beer type

Vollbier

          Original extract in %

Average 11,3

          Alcohol content in % vol.

Appr. 4.8

Fermentation type

Top-fermenting

Characteristics

Pale yellow, hoppy beer

Brewing process

Fermented between 15 and 20 degrees Celsius; yeast rises to the surface, thus top-fermenting

History

Brewing tradition dating back to the year 874; the Cologne Brewing Guild dates back to 1250; Cologne Brewers Corporation in 1396

Serving conventions

Typically served in slender Koelsch glasses, usually holding 0.2l

Miscellaneous

Beer of legally defined origin; may only be brewed in Cologne or by brewers who are members of the Cologne Brewers Association. Protected geographical specification EU-wide

Dark Lager/Export

Dark

Regions of popularity

Nationwide, especially in Bavaria

Beer type

Vollbier or Schankbier

          Original extract in %

Between 10 and 14, Export typically has 12

          Alcohol content in % vol.

Between 4.6 and 5.6

Fermentation type

Bottom-fermenting

Characteristics

Dark beer, lightly hopped, full-bodied, malty aroma

Brewing process

Fermented with bottom-fermenting yeast using dark Munich malts

History

In the 19th century, all bottom-fermented 'full beers' (Vollbier) with between 11 and 14 percent original extract content were referred to as lagers. Dark lagers have been gaining market share again in the last few years.

Serving conventions

Best served at 8 degrees Celsius

Pale Lager/Export

Pale

Regions of popularity

Principally Bavaria, Baden-Wuerttemberg and the Ruhr Valley region

Beer type

Vollbier or Schankbier

          Original extract in %

Between 10 and 14, Export typically has 12

          Alcohol content in % vol.

Between 4.6 and 5.6

Fermentation type

Bottom-fermenting

Characteristics

Malty in aroma, light to golden yellow crystal-clear beers, robust, slightly sweet

Brewing process

Fermented with bottom-fermenting yeast, Export sometimes more hoppy than lager

History

The name Export represents what the beer variety was made for. It was traditionally brewed stronger for long shipping routes to distant countries

Serving conventions

Lagers and Helles are typically served in tumblers, Export is often served in a mugs with handles; optimal serving temperature appr. 8 degrees Celsius

Pils/Pilsener

Pils/Pilsener

Regions of popularity

Throughout Germany

Beer type

Vollbier

          Original extract in %

Minimum 11

          Alcohol content in % vol.

Appr. 4.8

Fermentation type

Bottom-fermenting

Characteristics

Light-golden, more strongly hopped beer with a fine, creamy foam

Brewing process

Fermentation at low temperatures

History

Beers brewed the Pilsener way have been around for roughly 150 years, first been served in the city of in Pilsen by Bavarian master brewer Josef Groll on Martins Day, 1842

Serving conventions

Glass to be filled in 2 pulls over a maximum 3-minute period; best served around 8 degrees Celsius

Black beer

Black beer

Regions of popularity

Nationwide

Beer type

Vollbier

          Original extract in %

Minimum 11

          Alcohol content in % vol.

Appr. 4.8 - 5

Fermentation type

Bottom-fermenting

Characteristics

Very dark beer, full-bodied: no uniform taste characteristics

Brewing process

Fermented with bottom-fermenting yeast using dark special and roasted malts

History

Dark brown beers used to be predominant in Germany. The consumption of Schwarzbier was first documented in Thueringen in 1543; originally brewed top-fermenting

Serving conventions

Best served at 8 degrees Celsius, typically served in Schwarzbier goblet glasses

Wheat beer

Wheat beer

Regions of popularity

Spreading in popularity from the south ever further into northern Germany

Beer type

Vollbier

          Original extract in %

Minimum 11 and 14

          Alcohol content in % vol.

Appr. 5.4

Fermentation type

Top-fermenting

Characteristics

Crystal-clear or slightly yeast-cloudy, lively beer with a fruity, zesty flavour, lighter or dark coloured

Brewing process

Minimum 50% wheat malt, the rest barley

History

Wittelsbacher wheat monopoly since 1602, its production by other brewers repeatedly banned to protect this income source, yet it remained popular. Over 80% of wheat beers come from Bavaria

Serving conventions

Tastes best nicely chilled right out of the refrigerator – without adding a lemon slice or rice

Non-alcoholic beer

Non-alcoholic beer

Regions of popularity

Nationwide

Beer type

Schankbier ('draught') and Vollbier

          Original extract in %

7 - 12

          Alcohol content in % vol.

Maximum 0.5 = no detectable physiological effect

Fermentation type

Top- and bottom-fermenting

Characteristics

Available in many versions, e.g. Pils, Alt, Koelsch, Weizen etc.

Brewing process

Like all German beers, brewed of barley, hops, yeast and water (German Purity Law; yeast only came along later); in fermentation the formation of alcohol is either prevented or the alcohol is largely removed after fermentation

Serving conventions

Best served between 6 and 7 degrees Celsius

Light beer

Light beer

Regions of popularity

Nationwide

Beer type

Light beer is usually produced as Schankbier or Vollbier (Pils, Weizen, Alt, Koelsch)

          Original extract in %

7 - 12

          Alcohol content in % vol.

2 - appr. 3.2

Fermentation type

Many beers are also sold in a "light" variety, both bottom- and top-fermenting

Characteristics

An alternative beer choice for calorie-conscious enjoyment

Brewing process

In fermentation the formation of alcohol is either prevented, or the alcohol is largely removed after fermentation

Serving conventions

Best served at 7 degrees Celsius

Miscellaneous

Light beer has about the same calories as skim milk; it has a 30% lower calorific value and 30% less alcohol than regular 'Vollbier' beer varieties.

Mixed beer-based drinks

Mixed drinks

Regions of popularity

Nationwide

          Alcohol content in % vol.

Depends on the mix percentages, alcohol content is always specified on the label

Characteristics

Comes in several flavour varieties such as Radler, Alsterwasser, Russ'n, Diesel etc. Beer mixers can be made using any type of beer. These are made by mixing beer (brewed according to the German Purity Law) with light or dark soda/cola, fruit juices or other additives

History

A relatively new and rapidly growing segment as ready-made beverage; selling beer mixers in bottles or cans has only possible since the German Beer Tax Act was amended in 1993; they have long tradition in German restaurants

Serving conventions

Best served between 7 and 8 degrees Celsius

Malt beer

Malt beer

Regions of popularity

Nationwide

Beer type

Vollbier

          Original extract in %

Average 11,7

          Alcohol content in % vol.

Less than 0.5

Fermentation type

Top-fermenting

Characteristics

Dark, amber-coloured, non-cloudy beverage

Brewing process

Yeast added at 0 degrees Celsius, not fermented so no alcohol; invert sugar, sugar colouring and natural carbonation added

History

This drink's ancestor was "Braunschweiger Mumme", first brewed in 1492, which was developed into a good-tasting energy source

Serving conventions

Tastes best nicely chilled right out of the refrigerator

Miscellaneous

Has fewer calories than soft drinks, fruit juices and milk

Doppelcaramel ("Double caramel")

Doppelcaramel

Regions of popularity

Germany's eastern states

Beer type

Vollbier

          Original extract in %

Average 11

          Alcohol content in % vol.

Average 1.2

Fermentation type

Bottom-fermenting

Characteristics

Dark, yeast-cloudy

Brewing process

A brew made with roasted and caramel malts is diluted with water and fermented, then filled, adding invert sugar and caramel and pasteurised after fermenting briefly in the bottle

History

First made in the former East Germany in the 1950s

Serving conventions

Best served well-chilled

Beer specialties

Beer specialties

Regions of popularity

Nationwide

Alcohol content in % vol.

Depends on the ingredient percentages; the alcohol content is always specified on the label

Characteristics

Comes in several flavour varieties such as Radler, Alsterwasser, Russ'n, Diesel etc. Beer mixers can be made using any type of beer. These are made by mixing beer (brewed according to the German Purity Law) with light or dark soda/cola, fruit juices or other additives

History

A relatively new and rapidly growing segment as ready-made beverage; selling beer mixers in bottles or cans has only possible since the German Beer Tax Act was amended in 1993; they have long tradition in German restaurants

 

You can find more information about varieties of German beer in the “Vielfalt geniessen” (“Enjoy diversity”) brochure from the German Brewers Association.