Without a doubt, German beer is amongst the most renowned in the world.
The largest market of its kind in the world, it is rated consistently by drinking aficionados as amongst the top beer drinkers with more than 3 billion liters of beer consumed annual (a little more than 300 liters, capita — amazing!)
The variety of German beer extends through the whole spectrum, from Dunkles to Helles to draft and Flasche (bottled beer), some of the current favorites include Lager, Hell, Weizenbier, Pils, Alt, and Kölsch (in Cologne).
Today, non alcoholic beer has climbed the social ranks, although light beers have yet to make a serious impact on the economy. Today, Pilsner is the No. 1 selling beer followed by Export.
From the well-known Kölsch brand to Dunkel, German’s hold multiple beers as its national identity representatives with not one beer being above all, given the different regions throughout the country.
German beer has a long standing quality tradition, with purity laws stating that it may contain no ingredients other than the trademark water, barley, hops and yeast. Even rice and maize could not be substituted as part of the raw cereal for barley, since law prohibits these ingredients to maintain its integrity.
They vary in alcoholic content as well, from the relatively light Clausthaler brand to the high octane Warsteiner beer. Corporate and civil life holds a special place for beer, with entry into contracts allowing for its consumption during break hours and even on the job!
Today, German breweries extend their influence internationally, with industries established in the United States, China, and others. The German formula of malt, yeast, water, and hops are experimented with to include other ingredients like fruit juices and chemicals to match a national taste and represent a region.
In addition to German beer, the country is known for its wine trade with excellent German wines being produced in wine regions such as the Moselle and Franconia regions, which are known for its Weinstuben, or wine rooms.
Although Germans love a tall glass of wine, beer remains the No. 1 beverage. And more often than not, you will find people who love to drink beer but avoid drinking wine in the German cuisine.
Either way, next time you visit Germany, make sure to brush up on beer vocabulary! Here is a mini-primer: :-)
A Small German Beer Vocabulary
Generally, ein Bier simply means a beer. So going forward, the word ein is the equivalent for ordering “a” or “one.”
Ein Helles — This is a light beer that is usually served with a pint.
Ein Pils — Also known as Pilsner beer, it holds a more bitter taste.
Ein Dunkeles — This is a dark beer. Surprisingly to many, it does not hold the most alcohol. That distinction belongs to Weissbier (white beer) which holds the most alcohol of all German beers and comes with a light taste.
Ein Kölsch — Drink this when you visit Cologne. It’s the only language that you can drink (because the language of Cologne’s people is called Kölsch, too. ;-)
Ein Weizen — Without a doubt, the national drink for Bavarians. When you visited Bavaria but haven’t drunken their Weizen, you haven’t really been to Bavaria. ;-)