Beer Styles in Germany


Wheat beers. – Weizenbier (wheat) and Weißbier (white) are the standard German names for wheat beer. – Weizenbock is the name for a strong beer or bock made with wheat. – Roggenbier is a fairly dark beer made with rye, grainy flavor similar to bread. – Berliner Weisse is a pale, sour wheat beer brewed in Berlin. It’s typically mixed with raspberry or woodruff syrup. – Leipziger Gose is an amber, very sour wheat beer with an addition of salt, brewed in Leipzig. – Hefeweizen (yeast wheat) is an unfiltered wheat beer. – Kristallweizen is similar to Hefeweizen but without yeast. The fermentation is started using sparkling wine. – Kottbusser is a heirloom style originating in the city of Cottbus, typically containing oats, honey, and molasses in addition to wheat and barley malts.  

Pale beers. Altbier is a top-fermented, lagered beer, brewed only in Düsseldorf and in the Lower Rhein region. Its origins lie in Westfalen; there are still a few Altbier breweries there. Tastes range from mildly bitter and hoppy to bitter. About 10 breweries in the Düsseldorf region brew Altbier. – Export is a pale lager brewed around Dortmund that is fuller, maltier less hoppy than Pilsner. Germany’s most popular style in the 1950s and 1960s, it’s now becoming increasingly rare. – Helles is a malty pale lager from Bavaria. – Kölsch is a pale, light-bodied, top-fermented, beer which, when brewed in Germany, can only legally be brewed in the Cologne region. – Maibock is a pale, strong specialty lager brewed in spring. – Märzen is a medium body, malty lagers that come in pale, amber and dark varieties. It’s the type traditionally served at the Munich Oktoberfest. – Pilsener is a pale lager with a light body and a more prominent hop character. By far the most popular style, with around 2/3 of the German market. – Spezial is a pale, full, bitter-sweet and delicately hopped lager.

Dark beers. Bock is a heavy-bodied, bitter-sweet lager darkened by high-colored malts. – Doppelbock is a very strong, full-bodied lager darkened by high-colored malts. – Dunkles is a dark lager which comes in 2 varieties: the sweetish, malty Munich style and the drier, hoppy Franconian style. – Schwarzbier is a bottom-fermented, dark lager, full, roasty, chocolatey flavor.

Unfiltered beer. Kellerbiere (cellar beers) are unfiltered lagers which are conditioned in a similar manner to cask ales. Strength and color will vary, though in Franconia where these cask conditioned lagers are still popular, the strength will tend to be 5% abv or higher, the color is a deep amber. – Zwickelbier was originally a sample amount of beer taken by a brewery boss from the barrel with a special pipe called a “Zwickelhahn”. They’re unfiltered lagers like Kellerbier, though with a slightly different conditioning process which gives them more carbonation. Zwickelbiere tend to be younger, lower in alcohol and less hoppy than Kellerbiere. A very similar beer is Zoiglbier, which in the Upper Palatinate’s brewing practice is advertised with a “Zoiglstern”, a 6-pointed blue-and-white symbol made from wooden slats.

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