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German Beer: History & Different Types

As with so many of Germany’s industries, German beer is produced with the finest in craftsmanship and to the highest standards. In fact, Germans took their beer so seriously that they created the world’s oldest food law, Reinheitsgebot, which decreed that beer could be made with nothing other than water, hops, and malt.

When you think about beer in Germany, it’s easy to imagine a few brands that are synonymous with the country. But as any true connoisseur knows, there’s more to German beer than just a simple lager or bock. There are many types of beer in Germany that are brewed all across the country, and each one has its own history and taste.

If you’re planning a trip to the land of Oktoberfest or simply want to try something new at your local bar, these different types of beers will help expand your horizons when it comes time for another pint:

Different Types of German Beers



Dunkels are dark brown beers, with a reddish hue on the inside that is created by having fewer hops than other types of beer; they also have a higher alcohol content due to their extended fermentation process and use of more malt than other types of beer.

They were the first types of beer to be introduced in Germany, and they are still produced today. One of the most popular types of Dunkel is Warsteiner Dunkel.

Dunkels can be served at room temperature or chilled; when they are served at room temperature, this gives drinkers a chance to appreciate their full flavor and the types of malts that they are made with.

When Dunkels are served ice cold the types of hops and types of malt within them become masked by a stronger focus on their alcohol content. This is partly due to the fact that Dunkel beer has a higher percentage of alcohol compared to other types of beer while remaining less filling because of its types of malt and types of hops.



This type of beer is yellow to light brown in color, with a sweet aftertaste and can have fruity notes due to the types of malts that are used in the brewing process. Helles lager was made during a time when it was illegal for Saxony brewers to produce types of beer with higher alcohol content.

In order to get around this legislation, honey types malts were added to types of beer in order to give them the types of malty taste that gave them their flavor; after this type of beer was created and became popular it was legalized for types of brewers in Saxony to produce types of beer that had higher alcohol content because types of drinkers liked this new style.

Now, there are some types of Helles beers: Köstritzer and Einbecker. Both have a light-brown color with a type of malty taste to them, and they are served ice cold.

Different breweries make it by using various types of malts at different times so that various nuances can be added to the types of beer that they are making.

Berliner Weisse

Berliner Weisse is a sour wheat beer that originated in Berlin, Germany. It is light and effervescent, with a dry taste that makes it refreshing for summertime drinking. The cloudy appearance of this beer indicates its high carbonation level and low alcohol content—around 3%.

Its tartness may come from lactic acid bacteria or from other sources (such as woodruff syrup). It is often served with raspberry or woodruff syrup (an herbal syrup made from an herbaceous plant) to balance the sourness, along with lemon slices drenched in salt water: these ingredients help cleanse your pallet between sips so you can enjoy each flavor more fully.

Export or Exportbier

Export or Exportbier
Image by Hp.Baumeler used under CC BY-SA 4.0

These types of beer are dark yellow in color, have a spicy taste, and are produced with types of hops that were introduced into Germany from abroad. These are beers that have been introduced into Germany after the unification to this date.

There are several types of breweries that produce popular types of export or exportbier such as Köstritzer Schwarzbier and Bitburger.

Pils or Pilsner

These types of beer are clear in color, have a bitter aftertaste, and are produced using types of hops that were also introduced into Germany from abroad in the 19th century. The most popular types of German pilsner are Bitburger Pils and Warsteiner Pils. They tend to be the drinks of choice for locals to enjoy during sporting events.

German pilsners are light, golden in color, and have a clean, crisp taste. They are light and refreshing with a low to medium bitterness. German Pilsners are considered “session beers,” meaning that you can drink several of them without feeling too full or hungover the next day.

Weißbier or Weissbier

Gewürztraminer or Riesling

One of the most famous types of beer in Germany is Weissbier (Wheat Beer), which has been around for over 200 years. It remains one of four core types of beer from Germany.

It was invented by the brewing engineer Josef Groll in Bavaria. The German term for “white beer” comes from german terms relating to wheat which are Weiß and Bier which is German for “beer.” Even though the style has existed for over 200 years, it is still popular among German types of beer. This is a sweet beer with distinct flavors that can be easily enjoyed during the summer months.

There are hundreds of Germanic restaurants all over Germany that serve Weißbier and Germanic food. These restaurants usually have German decorations or music playing to make the experience complete.

See Related: Different Types of German Wines to Try



Gesmondner is a type of beer that has been made in Bavaria since 1821 and is only consumed during the summer season. It is served with a slice of lemon so that the drinker can get some citrusy taste from german mead (which translates to gesmondner).

It is generally considered to be a summer German gruit type of beer. As the name gesmondner suggests, this German gruit was made so that it could be consumed during hot German summers. Due to this fact, its alcohol content is relatively low at about 2%. German Gruit beers are supposed to remain German, Gesmondner retains its German style.

Gemunden is a type of beer that was made in the former state of Bavaria but is now produced by only one brewery: Salm-Salm Bräu. The original brewery from which it hails is called Brauerei Hübsch. This beer style has been a part of society since 1821 and the recipe has changed little during those years.

Gruit beer is a German-style of brewing that traditionally includes German herbs in the ingredients and can be consumed only in establishments that have served this kind of beverage since its inception.

Kölsch or Kölschbier


Image by Tim ‘Avatar‘ / CC BY-SA 3.0

Kolsch is a gruit beer type that originated in Köln, which is the German name for Cologne. The origins are unclear, but historians believe it was created on November 11, 1838.

Adding other ingredients to your gruit beer is not uncommon, but German Kolsch brewers incorporated a new twist on the process. They used two types of roasting instead of hops to give it its unique flavor and added golden color. The taste is similar to the typical sweets shops you might find in Germany but more mellow with flavors of malt and sugar.

German gruit beer is quite popular among German brewers, but the particular style of Kolsch can only be found in one place: Cologne (Köln). Where gesmondner is a summer-type German gruit, Kolsch has become a winter German gruit beer, and competition between the two brews is fierce.

In order to fix the mead’s lack of color, brewers from Köln added coke and burnt sugar. Adding flavorings similar to those found in German candy shops allowed it to have a unique flavor profile that was different than the other wines’ roasts before it.

Yeast is naturally present in gruit beers, but the addition of yeast creates more carbonation. In German gruit beer recipes, you will often find wheat as an ingredient, which is common in Germany and has been used for centuries.


A marzen (from Latin) or a German bock, is a type of beer from the Munich region of Germany. It is made from pale or amber-flavored malt and caramel malts. Marzens are brewed with varying degrees of strength between 6 and 10.9% alcohol. Marzens are typically light-bodied beers that are refreshing and slightly sweet with a complex malt flavor.

The name “marzen” comes from the German word “Märzenbier” which means “March beer.” The style was traditionally brewed in March to celebrate the end of winter and the beginning of spring. Nowadays, it’s brewed all year long.

But when this beer shines the most is as an Oktoberfest beer that is enjoyed to celebrate the tradition of excellent German cultre of beer and festivals.


Schwarzbier is a type of German lager that gets its name from the word “black.” This style of beer originated in 1872, and it’s typically dark brown in color with a malty flavor. It’s also brewed with roasted malts to give it an almost coffee-like taste.

Schwarzbier is a seasonal beer that’s available in the winter and early spring. It’s often served with hard cheeses like parmesan or gruyere.

History of Beer in Germany

German Beer and Pretzel

Germans consume more beer per capita than any other country but the Czech Republic and Ireland. There are over 1,300 breweries in Germany and over 5,000 brands. Almost half of all of these breweries are located in Bavaria, which is also home to many Oktoberfest celebrations.

Germany is definitely the fatherland of beer brewing; the oldest existing brewery in the world can be found in Germany; it is a Benedictine Abbey called Weihenstephan that has been in existence since the year 725, and has been brewing beer since 1040. Beers in Germany come in many varieties; these include wheat beers, pale beers, dark beers, and unfiltered brews.

The advent of dark lager beer was responsible for another law and piece of beer culture. When the beer was created, it was decreed that it could only be brewed during certain months and had to be kept in cellars underground.

In order to ensure that the drinks were kept cold, brewers planted trees to shade the cellars and ended up putting benches under the trees for their customers to sit and drink the beer. This was the start of the traditional German Biergarten, or beer garden, which has been copied all around the world.

Other cultural icons that have been created around beer include different drinkware such as the beer stein, which is largely ornamental, and the beer boot, which was said to have been created after a German general told his troops that if they were successful in battle he would drink beer from his boot.

When they were victorious, he had a glassmaker create a glass boot for him to drink from, and beer boots have been popular among German soldiers and in beer-drinking challenges ever since.

Cultural Events Related to Beer in Germany

Okay, yeah there are a few excellent types of beer in Germany. However, that’s only half the reason significance here. Beer in Germany is a lifestyle and that’s what makes it taste that much better.

Beer Festivals in Germany


Finally, Oktoberfest is a German event that has been popularized around the world. Lasting between 16 and 18 days from late September through early October, Oktoberfest has stringent requirements as to what kinds of beer can be served.

There is also a group called the Society against Dishonest Pouring which has existed for centuries and patrols beer-drinking events like Oktoberfest, to make sure that beer drinkers are receiving the amount of beer that they have paid for.

The beer industry in Germany dates back to the year 800 and has evolved over time into a highly-structured organization that produces some of the world’s finest beers.

Today, Germany is home to over one thousand breweries, many of which are responsible for producing some truly unique brews that have been popularized by the Germans themselves. Oktoberfest showcases German beer culture.

Best German Beer Brands

german bree brand

There are a number of beer brands in Germany, but the most popular brand is Krombacher. In fact, this brewery produces over 50% of all the German beer sold within Germany. Other popular German brews include Beck’s and Warsteiner, both of which have been featured prominently at many German beer-drinking events.

Even though German brews are not the most popular worldwide, these beers remain incredibly popular in Germany and other German-speaking countries like Austria and Switzerland. When looking for a beer drinker’s gift, German beer glasses can be used as a great source of German pride.

A mug or German stein is a great gift option; these traditional beer mugs are available in many different sizes, colors, and designs.

Beer Glasses

German Beer Glasses

When looking for beer glasses from Germany, it is best to visit authentic shops form countries that speak German. Such places offer beer glasses with symbols such as Germany’s flag or cheers to beer mugs! If you’re not up for controversial choices, consider giving a stein instead.

While they might not have as many words related to drinking like “prost” or phrases about friends, your friend can have something under the tree that reads “prost mein freund.”

Beer Steins

German Beer Glasses

When searching for beer steins, one should first look at German gift stores. This is because they carry both Germany-themed Beer Mugs and Stein for buyers.

In addition, these german gift shops also offer a mix of German phrases that are inscribed on the mug or stein.

Beer Boots

German Beer Boot Gifts

Beer boots are traditionally a German product and are often given as gifts from Germans to their peers. In spite of this, the tradition has spread to many places around the world.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How do you say beer in German?

Beer in German is translated as Bier /biːɐ/ and pronounced as Bi-Ya which is useful when ordering beer in Germany.

How much are German beer steins worth?

Steins were traditional beer containers and a holder made out of glass and ceramic that has a beautiful art pattern design and that can cost from $50 to $500.

What is the best German beer?

There is a variety of the best beer to try in Germany that is brewed remarkably. The best beers to try in Germany, where the Erdinger Kristall is a wheat beer, Weihenstephan Hefe Weissbier a beer with a touch of Bavarian-style wheat brew, and the Spaten Oktoberfest, a Herman beer that is traditionally brewed to perfection.

Where can I buy German beer?

Buying beer in Germany is not hard. With the country’s abundance of great beers, the number of pubs and bars serving authentic beer is everywhere and it’s relatively inexpensive too. German beers can be bought from pubs that are scattered across the country.

How to ask for a beer in German?

Knowing what beer is in German is not enough in ordering beer like saying “Bier please,” The right way to ask for a beer in Germany is to say that you want a beer starting with the German words Ich möchte… which means I’d like… or say Ich hätte gerne… that means I’d like to have. Knowing what kind of beer to order and the size of servings you want is necessary because there are an array of beers in Germany.

What are common types of German beer?

There are extensive and overwhelming kinds of beers that can be bought and tasted in Germany, but there are common beers served in this beautiful country: the Pilsner by Helles which has light color and flavor; Traditional Bock by Maibock that is has a little more kick in taste than Pilsner; and Doppelbock and Eisbock that is packed in rich flavor. Other typical beers where the Schwarzbier is light to drink and in the body and the Rauchbier is made in malted barley and rich in smokey flavor.

Related German Brewery Guides

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