Top Beer Brands: Germany and German Beer
Name a country associated with beer and it’s an easy bet that the first thing that comes to mind is Germany, the economic heart of Europe. Many beer styles originated from Germany and found its way across the globe, including the pale lagers that dominate the top beer brands. The beer lovers’ festival, the Oktoberfest, originated in Germany and it is a perfect example of the intertwining of Germany and beer.
However to associate Germany only with the ubiquitous pale lagers would be an insult to the country and its contributions to beer. Let’s introduce a little variety and showcase different beer styles that every beer lover should know about.
Altbier. A traditional German ale, it is copper colored with aromatic hops. It has a creamy head, a medium body and a dry finish. The most famous Altbiers come from Düsseldorf.
Recommended Brand: Uerige Doppelstickehas a hazy brown color with a beige head. It smells of caramel malt with some fruitiness. The flavor is almost the same. It has noticeable alcohol but it is only slightly bitter. It has a medium mouthfeel with a dry and bitter finish.
Wheat beer. A style of beer brewed with lots of wheat. It usually has a cloudy appearance and a finish that tastes like banana or vanilla.
Recommended Brand: Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier has a hazy yellow-orange color with a frothy head that settles down but never disappears. The smell of bananas dominates together with other fruity aromas. It tastes of bananas, bread and spices. It’s got a medium body.
Berliner Weisse. This particular beer style is very wheaty and very sour. It is low in alcohol and hops. Most of the time, Weisse are served with syrup to reduce the acidity.
Recommended Brand: Berliner Kindl Weisse is straw colored with a bright white head that sinks quickly. The aroma is full of wheat and citrus. The acid and sourness can be smelled too. The taste is very tart, sour and acidic with faint spices and wheat flavors. The body is light and the finish is still acidic.
Rauchbier. Or smoked beer, it took its name in a peculiarity in the malting process: green malts were smoked over beech wood. This beer style is dark and tastes like spiced, smoke meat.
Recommended Brand: Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzenhas a dark brown color with an off-white head that fades slowly. It smells of smoked meat, charcoal and almonds. The overpowering taste is similar to the flavor, smoked meat with caramel notes. It is medium bodied and smooth with a dry finish.
Märzen. Also known as Oktoberfest because this was the beer brewed especially for that event. It’s an amber colored beer style and tastes sweet and malty.
Recommended Brand: Spaten Oktoberfest has a golden copper color with a thin white head. The aroma smells of grain and toasted malt. The taste is earthy caramel with sweet malt and some mild bitterness. It’s medium bodied that still gives a crisp and smooth feel
Bock. Strong malty German beer with enough bitterness to balance the sweetness. Color ranges from dark, red to pale.
Recommended Brand: Einbecker Ur-Bock Dunkel is caramel in color with an off-white head that settles gracefully. It smells of sweet malts and caramel. The taste is very malty with little bitterness. The mouthfeel is creamy and the finish is sweet.
Doppelbock. A bock that is even stronger. It is usually full-bodied and dark in color. It has a higher alcohol level too.
Recommended Brand: Salvator DoppelBock is deep red amber in color with little head. It smells of fruits like apples. The taste is robust and sweetly malty with lots of fruity flavors. It has a medium body with a bitter finish
Helles. It’s a bock, which is lighter in color. It has a strong hop flavor and smell. The alcohol is noticeable too.
Recommended Brand: Ayinger Bräu Hell has a yellow color with a white head. It smells of wheat and grain with some floral scents. It has a sweet grainy malt taste with hints of bread. It has a medium body. Floral flavors can be detected especially in the finish where it brings a bittersweet quality.
Pilsener. Or pilsner or simply pils, is a kind of pale lager with lots of hops. It originated in the Bohemian town of Pilsen, which is now in the Czech Republic.
Recommended Brand: Pilsner Urquell is the first lager beer and it is still being made in Pilsen today. It has a golden color with a white head that stays. It smells of faintly of hops and barley. The tongue can taste sweet malts and light hops which is replaces by a sharp bitterness. It’s light bodied and crisp.
Kölsch. A German beer style brewed in the city from which it took its name, Cologne. It has a light to medium body with a pale color. It is dry and moderately bitter
Recommended Brand: Reissdorf Kölsch has a clear yellow color with a modest head. The aroma is mainly grain. The taste is malty, slightly sweet with bready tones. Fruit flavors come up. It has a medium body and the finish leaves a floral flavor that lasts for a few seconds.