Beer in Germany

A Kranz (wreath) of fresh Kölsch beer that is typically carried by a server ("Köbes"), containing traditional Stange glasses and, in the center, larger modern glasses

Beer is a major part of German culture.

German beer is brewed according to the Reinheitsgebot, which only permits water, hops, and malt as ingredients and stipulated that beers not exclusively using barley-malt, such as wheat beer, must be top-fermented.[1][2]

In 2012, Germany ranked third in terms of per-capita beer consumption, behind the Czech Republic and Austria.[3]


Main article: Reinheitsgebot

The Reinheitsgebot ("purity decree"), sometimes called the "German Beer Purity Law" or the "Bavarian Purity Law" in English, was a regulation concerning the production of beer in Germany. In the original text, the only ingredients that could be used in the production of beer were water, barley, and hops, which had to be added only while the wort was boiling. After its discovery, yeast became the fourth legal ingredient. For top-fermenting beers, the use of sugar is also permitted.

There is a dispute as to where the Reinheitsgebot originated. Some Bavarians point out that the law originated in the city of Ingolstadt in the duchy of Bavaria on 23 April 1516, although first put forward in 1487,[4] concerning standards for the sale and composition of beer. Thuringians point to a document which states the ingredients of beer as water, hops, and barley only, and was written in 1434 in Weißensee (Thuringia). It was discovered in the medieval Runneburg near Erfurt in 1999.[5] Before its official repeal in 1987, it was the oldest food-quality regulation in the world.[6]


Wheat beers

Unfiltered and filtered German wheat beers

Pale beers

Märzen at Oktoberfest, served in the traditional 1-litre Maß.

Dark beers

Unfiltered beer

A glass stein of unfiltered Eichbaum Kellerbier

Kellerbiers are unfiltered lagers which are conditioned in a similar manner to cask ales. Strength and colour will vary,[10] though in the Franconia region where these cask conditioned lagers are still popular, the strength will tend to be 5% abv or slightly higher, and the colour will tend to be a deep amber, but the defining characteristic is the cask conditioning. Kellerbier is German for "cellar beer".[11]

Zwickelbier was originally a sample amount of beer taken by a brewery boss from the barrel with a help of a special pipe called a "Zwickelhahn". Zwickelbiers are unfiltered lagers like Kellerbier, though with a slightly different conditioning process which gives the lager more carbonation. Zwickelbiers tend to be younger, lower in alcohol and less hoppy than Kellerbiers.[12]

A very similar beer is Zoiglbier, which in the Upper Palatinate's brewing practice is advertised with a "Zoiglstern" (i.e., sign) — a six-pointed blue-and-white symbol made from wooden slats, similar to a Star of David.[13][14]

Brands and breweries

While the beer market is weaker but more centralized in northern Germany, the south has lots of smaller local breweries. Almost half of all German breweries are in Bavaria.[15] In total, there are approximately 1,300 breweries in Germany producing over 5,000 brands of beer. The highest density of breweries in the world is found in Aufseß near the city of Bamberg, in the Franconia region of Bavaria with four breweries and only 1,352 citizens.[16] The Benedictine abbey Weihenstephan brewery (established in 725) is reputedly the oldest existing brewery in the world (brewing since 1040). In 2004, Oettinger replaced Krombacher as the best selling brand in Germany.[17]

Top ten best-selling German beer brands (2011–2012)[18]
Brewery Output in 2012 in million hectolitres Location
Oettinger 5.89 Oettingen
Krombacher 5.46 Kreuztal
Bitburger 4.07 Bitburg
Beck's 2.78 Bremen
Warsteiner 2.77 Warstein
Hasseröder 2.75 Wernigerode
Veltins 2.72 Meschede
Paulaner 2.30 Munich
Radeberger 1.91 Radeberg
Erdinger 1.72 Erding

Alcohol content

The alcohol-by-volume, or ABV, content of beers in Germany is usually between 4.7% and 5.4% for most traditional brews. Bockbier or Doppelbock (double Bockbier) can have an alcohol content of up to 16%, making it stronger than many wines.


Weizen glass

A glass of Weizen

A Weizen glass is used to serve Weizenbier.[19]

Originating in Germany, the glass is narrow at the bottom and slightly wider at the top; the width both releasing aroma, and providing room for the often thick, fluffy heads produced by wheat beer.[20] It tends to be taller than a pint glass, and generally holds 500 millilitres with room for foam or "head". In some countries, such as Belgium, the glass may be 250 ml or 330 ml.

Wheat beers tend to foam a lot, especially if poured incorrectly. In pubs, if the bottle is handed to the patron for self pouring, it is customary for the glass to be taken to the patron wet or with a bit of water in the bottom to be swirled around to wet the entire glass to keep the beer from foaming excessively.

Beer stein

A beer stein (or simply a stein /ˈstn/)[21] is an English neologism for a traditional type of beer mug. Steins may be made of stoneware (rarely the inferior earthenware), pewter, porcelain, silver, glass, or wood. They may have open tops or may have hinged pewter lids with a thumb-lever.

Steins usually come in sizes of a half litre or full litre (or comparable historical sizes). Like decorative tankards, they are often decorated in nostalgic themes, generally showing allusions to Germany or Bavaria.

It is believed by some that the lid was implemented during the time of the Black Plague to prevent diseased flies from getting into the beer.[22]


The Maß (pronounced [mas]) is a term used in German-speaking countries for a unit of volume, now typically used only for measuring beer sold for immediate on-site consumption. In modern times, a Maß is defined as exactly 1 litre. As a maß is a unit of measure, various designs are possible: modern maß krugs are often handled glass tankards, although they may also be in the form of steins. At the Octoberfest beer is only available in maß krugs.

Stange and Becher

A Stange (stick or rod) is a cylindrical glass that is traditionally used for Kölsch beer. A Becher (tumbler), traditionally used for Altbier, is similar to a Stange but is slightly shorter and much thicker. Stangen are carried by placing them into holes in a special tray called a Kranz (wreath). In Cologne Stanges are usually served by traditional waiters called Köbes.

Beer boot

Beer boots (Bierstiefel in German) have over a century of history and culture behind them. It is commonly believed that a general somewhere promised his troops to drink beer from his boot if they were successful in battle. When the troops prevailed, the general had a glassmaker fashion a boot from glass to fulfill his promise without tasting his own feet and to avoid spoiling the beer in his leather boot. Since then, soldiers have enjoyed toasting to their victories with a beer boot. At gatherings in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, beer boots are often passed among the guests for a festive drinking challenge. Since the movie Beerfest appeared in 2006, beer boots have become increasingly popular in the United States. Glass beer boots are either manufactured using a mold or from mouth-blown glass by skilled artisans.

In Germany, beer boots usually contain between 2 and 4 litres and are passed from one guest at the table to the next one clockwise. When almost reaching the bottom of the boot, it suddenly starts bubbling. The drinker who caused the bubbling has to order the next boot. There are also boots known with 6 and 8 litres.

Beer festivals

Main article: Beer festival
Inside a tent at Munich's Oktoberfest - the world's largest beer festival

Oktoberfest is a 16- to 18-day festival held annually in Munich, Bavaria, Germany, running from late September to the first weekend in October. Only beer which is brewed within the city limits of Munich with a minimum of 13.5% Stammwürze (approximately 6% alcohol by volume) is allowed to be served in this festival. Upon passing this criterion, a beer is designated Oktoberfest Beer. Large quantities of German beer are consumed, with almost 7 million liters served during the 16-day festival in 2007. Recently in 2015 the festival officially served 7.3 million liters of beer.[23]

Other festivals include

In many cases, the beer festival is part of a general funfair or volksfest.

See also


  1. "Vorläufiges Biergesetz". Archived from the original on 9 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-04.
  2. "492 Years of Good Beer". Archived from the original on 11 May 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-26.
  3. "Kirin Beer University Report, Global Beer Consumption by Country in 2012". Table 3.
    See also: List of countries by beer consumption per capita
  4. "Bavaria"; Bolt, Rodney; Globe Pequot Press; Connecticut; 2005; pg 37.
  5. Archived March 20, 2005, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. "492 Years of Good Beer: Germans Toast the Anniversary of Their Beer Purity Law - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News". Archived from the original on October 24, 2008. Retrieved 2016-01-30.
  7. "Weissbier". German Beer Institute. Archived from the original on 24 October 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-07.
  8. M. Gibson (2010). The Sommelier Prep Course: An Introduction to the Wines, Beers, and Spirits. John Wiley and Sons. p. 364. ISBN 9780470283189. Retrieved 2010-10-07.
  9. Archived April 24, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.
  10. "Michael Jackson's Beer Hunter - Beer Styles: Kellerbier". Beer Hunter. Archived from the original on 5 July 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-30.
  11. Kellerbier German Beer Institute
  12. Zwickelbier
  13. About the history of Zoiglbier
  14. Pronunciation and definition of Zoiglbier
  15. Quoted in Sonntag Aktuell Newspaper (Stuttgart), 28.09.2008
  16. World's Best Beers: One Thousand Craft Brews from Cask to Glass by Ben McFarland
  17. Cited news from Financial Times Germany on
  18. Table Statista, 2013.
  19. Ben McFarland, World's Best Beers: One Thousand Craft Brews from Cask to Glass, page 27. Sterling Publishing Company, Inc., 2009, ISBN 1-4027-6694-7. 2009-10-06. ISBN 9781402766947. Retrieved 2010-03-10.
  20. The Beer Journal. Google Books. 2007-08-30. ISBN 9781430312468. Retrieved 2010-03-10.
  21. US dict: stīn
  22. Gary Kirsner (1999). "A Brief History of Beer Steins". Archived from the original on 3 June 2009. Retrieved June 19, 2009.
  23. "History of Oktoberfest - How It Began in Munich Germany". Retrieved 2016-07-07.

Further reading

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to German beers.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/17/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.