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A guide to Germany's national drink

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As you customise your schedule for HP Discover in Frankfurt using the session scheduler, be sure to reserve some time for partaking in a litre or two of Germany’s national drink: beer! In 2010, the Kirin Institute of Food and Lifestyle ranked Germany second in terms of per-capita beer consumption.

 hausfrau brewing beer.jpg

Beer has a long history in Germany that stretches back at least 3,000 years. And this history only covers the institutional brewing of beer. Before that, ale—the primary brew before lagers were developed—was brewed at home by tribal hausfraus, by some counts as far back as 1000 B.C.


Beer is intimately intertwined with Germany’s culture and politics as well. The Reinheitsgebot, or “German beer purity law” was instituted in 1516 and dictated that beers could only contain barley, hops, and water. It was later understood that yeast is also a vital ingredient, but ancient brewers unknowingly relied on the yeast floating in the air. Germany is very proud of its brewing tradition and some brewers still claim to abide by the old purity law.


To be a knowledgeable patron and impress your local brewer or tavern meister in Frankfurt, here’s a quick  guide to German beer styles.


Weissbier dunkel.jpgWheat beers

  • Weizenbier and Weißbier—standard German names for wheat beer. Also referred to as “white beer” due to their lighter colour. Known for low hop bitterness and high carbonation.
  • Roggenbier—a fairly dark beer made with rye, somewhat grainy flavour similar to bread.
  • Leipziger Gose—an amber, very sour, wheat beer with an addition of salt, brewed around the city of Leipzig.
  • Hefeweizen—an unfiltered wheat beer. 'Hefe' is German for yeast.
  • Kristallweizen—a filtered wheat beer.


Pale beers

  • Kölsch—a pale, light-bodied, beer.  Can only Frothy light beer.jpglegally be brewed in the Köln (Cologne).
  • Helles—a pale lager from Bavaria.
  • Pilsener—a pale lager with a light body and a more prominent hop character.
  • Spezial—a pale, full, bitter-sweet and delicately hopped lager.
  • Bock—an amber, heavy-bodied, bitter-sweet lager.
  • Märzen—a medium body, malty lager that comes in pale, amber and dark varieties.


Dark beers

  • Altbier—a top-fermented, dark, lagered beer. Tastes range from mildly bitter and "hoppy" to exceptionally bitter.
  • Schwarzbier—a bottom-fermented, dark lager beer with a full, roasted, chocolate flavour.
  • Dunkles—a dark lager, which comes in two main varieties: the sweetish, malty Munich style, and the drier, hoppy Franconian style.
  • Rauchbier—usually dark in colour and smoky in taste from the use of smoked malt.
  • Doppelbock—a very strong, very full-bodied lager darkened by high-coloured malts.
  • Weihnachtsbier or Festbier—seasonally styled beers brewed in the autumn for consumption at Christmas.


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DennisKruegel | ‎10-22-2012 09:28 AM

Some more facts:

There are about 1.200 commercial breweries in Germany which produce about 5.000 different beer brands. About 800 of these breweries are located in Bavaria.

Also, if you come to Germany and want to buy a Budweiser, you won't get the american Bud, but the original from Budvar, Czech Republic (in German: Budweis).

And: Frankfurt has a strong local tradition of drinking "Ebbelwoi". It is a cider.

DiscoverInsider | ‎10-22-2012 07:44 PM

Thank you very much for the extra facts, Dennis. I don't think many Americans are aware that Budweiser has German origins, despite the obviously Germanic name.


We look forward to exploring this part of German culture outside of the show, hopefully with some of our fellow Discover attendees. Prost!

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