Although beer is made from just four ingredients malt, hops, yeast and water you would think that they would all be relativly similar! OH NO, think again, the range will make your head spin and that before you touch a drop of the amber nectar. Let us first start with how many types of German Beer are available in Germany, and there is quite a long list, which is not surprising!”Alt”, “Dunkles”, “Kristal-Weissbier”, “Hefe-Weissbier Naturtrüb”, “Berliner Weiße”, “Helles”, “Pils”, “Bock”, “Maibock”, “Doppelbock”, “Kölsch”, “Lagerbier”, “Roggen”, “Rauchbier’, “Märzen” and “Urtyp” and there are also some small breweries producing their own speciality beers. It is easy to assume that all German beer is lager and when confronted with the above list how do we know just where to begin? German weizen beer is wheat beer, containing at least 50% wheat to barley malt to produce a light coloured top-fermenting beer, which is classed as a white beer. Hefeweizen refers to unfiltered wheat beer and kristallweizen is the same beerbut filtered. Weissbier (white beer)is also available in stronger dark kinds such as dunkelweizen and weizenstarkbier both of which have a higher alcohol content than the lighter beers. The weizen beers are traditionally sold in tall vase shaped glasses. Pale beers are light bodied, which vary in alcohol content from 4.5% to 7%.
They vary with whatever region they are produced in and include Pilsner, Bock, Kölsch, Export and Spezial. The dark beers include Schwarzier, Dunkles, Dunkler Bock and Rauchbier these are full bodied beers with rich flavors to be savoured and enjoyed. Most of the breweries will produce their own particular shape and style of glass, with their name on it, to go with each different beer. With more than 1,200 breweries and over 5,000 brands of German beer, that’s a lot of glasses! Although the Germans have a reputation as great beer lovers, over the last thirty years there has been a decline in beer consumption and Germans are now behind the Czech Republic and Ireland in pro-capita beer consumption and some of the breweries have scaled down production on certain brands of their beers, but don’t worry there is still plenty around for us all to enjoy!
Beer gardens first started in Bavaria where, to keep the beer cool, chestnut trees were planted to provide shade. Cellars were dug into the banks of the Isar river to keep the barrels cold and the beer gardens were placed near to these. Simple tables and chairs were placed under the trees and so the beer gardens were born. Many provide food as well as beer although you are able to take your own food if you so wish. The leafy, shady beergardens are the perfect place to enjoy a cold beer on a hot summers day and sit and watch the world go by, listening to the chatter of the guests around you. Of course the beergardens are not limited to Bavaria alone and will be found around most of Germany, and even around the world!. Indoors there are bierkellers, when the weather is inclement, the largest being the Hofbräukeller in Munich, however there are beercellars all over Germany and they are the place to head for when you are looking for musical entertainment with your beer, from jazz to rock, to Traditional German folk music, the beer cellars have it all. They normally stay open until the last people leave.
Throughout Germany the towns and villages will host local festival to celebrate just about anything, they love to enjoy life,and they will erect beer tents in the middle of the town where they will all meet up and enjoy a few beers. These festivals normally occur during the summer months. For connoisseurs of beer, or even if you just enjoy it, spring and summer is a great time to be in Germany for the many beer festivals that are held all over the land. See our “Festivals in Germany” for a selection of the many exciting places to visit. Prost!
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