title: “German beer!”
Germany is world known for their beer. And Germans definitely know it well! Even though Oktoberfest is only a couple weeks in the fall, beer halls and beer gardens are open all year round, so Germans can enjoy good (or not-so-good) beer with their friends and family no matter what the occasion. But as a foreigner to Germany, which beer should you choose? If going to a restaurant in Germany, you cannot simply say “a beer” (well, maybe you could) because odds are that there are multiple choices. So here are some things I’ve learned about German beer from my time there.
There are several types of beer (obviously). Here is a list of some that I’ve tried/seen:
Weissbier: A German wheat beer, also called Weizenbier. There is also Hefeweizen (among many others), which is an unfiltered wheat beer (and hefe means yeast by the way).
Pilsener: Many Germans just call it ein Pils. It’s a light-bodied pale lager with stronger “hop character,” or so it is by definition (I really know nothing about beer tasting).
Helles bier: “Light beer” in German. A Bavarian pale lager.
Maerzen: This is the traditional Oktoberfest beer served in Munich. It’s a lager that comes in different varieties.
Schwarzbier: “Black-beer” in English. A dark lager beer with a full, chocolatey-like flavor.
Dunkles bier: “Dark beer” in English. A dark lager.
Bock: A heavy-bodied, bitter-sweet lager.
Biermischgetränke: “Beer-mixed-drinks” in English. Mixed drinks with beer and usually a non-alcoholic beverage. Some very popular ones include Radler (beer with lemon soda), Diesel (beer with cola), and Berliner Weisse (Weissbier and a shot of sweet syrup, either green (Woodruff, it tastes like gummi-bears to me), yellow (lemon) or red (raspberry).
The great thing about beer in Germany is that it’s almost always relatively cheap! In restaurants they can range from 2-7 Euro (depending on the size you get) and in grocery stores they can be ridiculously cheap (like 8 cents). But another things a person must know is the automatic pfand (deposit) paid when buying a glass bottle in Germany. It’s usually about 8 cents (and 25 cents for plastic bottles), and if you bring back your bottle to a grocery store, they usually have a machine that will give you back your deposit. This promotes recycling and you can reuse your deposit for something else!
And of course, it is important to know the laws in terms of alcohol drinking. For drinking beer, the drinking age is 16, but larger alcohol percentages (like in hard liquor) is 18. Also, in Germany, drinking in public is (or at least it seems to be) very acceptable, so you won’t look like a homeless person if you walk down the street with a beer in your hands. Prost (cheers)!
- German Dark beer (uclaislamicstudies.com)
- German Beer, still my favorite (therepublika.com)
- Lagers (oohlalaseattle.wordpress.com)
- Take a Sip: The Obscure Beers of Germany (chicagoreader.com)