Do you know how to navigate the different German beer that’s available on Oktoberfest? Have no fear, here is a quick guide to the differences and some German beer lingo to help you know what to order.
Differences Between Types of German Beer
By guest blogger Christopher W. Smith
There are more than fourteen different styles or types of German beer. The differences between the ales include the means of production and the final product. German beer styles include lagers, ales, beers made from wheat and flavored beers like fruit beers and spiced beers.
Differences in the types of brews also lie in the light and dark qualities of the beer. Flavor is another factor contributing to the differences in the types of bier produced in Germany. Bavarian ales allow for the most taste because the Bavarian purity laws only allow the four basic beer ingredients of hops, yeast, grain and water. Pilsner beers have a less malty, but bitterer taste than other beers and are very foamy compared to other brews. Dark ales contain darkened or toasted malts with much less alcohol than light beers. Bock ales are the strongest beers, created by monks who were seeking a way to endure periods of fasting. Bock ales, unlike most other beers, must be brewed in certain months in order to produce the best results.
Of all the many types of German brews produced in the more than 1200 breweries in the country of Germany, the most popular is the famous lager originally served at Oktoberfest. The Oktoberfest beer, called Marzen, translates in English to the March, the month in which this type or style had to finish brewing in the days before refrigeration. After March, the beer was stored in icy caves until the autumn Oktoberfest celebration, when it was ready for drinking.
German Beer Lingo
By guest blogger Garret Wong
Most German beers are popular, because they are vegan (no animal products are used). Bavarian purity laws require them to use four ingredients only: water, grain, hops and yeast. Real German beer is also not pasteurized as many American beers are, which allows the beers real flavor to flourish.
Listed below is some of the different types of German beers typically found in Bavaria and what you can expect if you order one of these types.
“Helles” ( A lite beer)
The standard light beer, when you order a “Helles” in a pub or restaurant you will usually get a pint. Depending on the brewer it can be quite refreshing. Some beer gardens have responded to the public’s outcry for smaller quantities and now also offer them outdoors, the “real” beer garden only serves the “Maß” (one quart). By the way, this precise nation has laws governing the quantity of liquids served to the public, that is why you will find level markers on each glass. If your Maß looks like it is not quite 1 liter after the foam settles, just go back and say “bitte nachschenken”. The man at the keg will be impressed that you know your way around.
If you like a more bitter and less malty taste try the pils which is also called pilsener. You can order them in restaurants and special pils bars. Take a closer look at the time consuming process of serving a foam crowned pils with perfection. You will see dozens of glasses filled with foam only, waiting to settle. It can take a good quarter of an hour for the foam refills to turn into the golden liquid. This particular beer is arguably the closest to American beer you will find in Germany.
“Dunkeles” (A dark beer)
Against popular beliefs it is not the most powerful in alcohol contents. It is basically a lager bottom brewed beer containing “toasted” malt. Many enjoy mixing this with cola.
“Weissbier” (A white beer)
A very good idea on a hot day when you prefer a lighter tasting beer. Weizen means wheat, often called a Weissbier (white), and is served in tall and elegant 1/2 liter glasses. But beware of its “light” character it is the strongest in alcohol content. While some will serve it with a slice of lemon, do not put one in your Hefe (yeast) Weissbier. The Hefeweissbier comes only in bottles. A professional will wet the glass and pour the bottle at a steep angle. With the foam that remains at the bottom of the bottle he will collect the yeast (swirling action) and add it to your beer.
Bock and Doppelbock (A Bock beer)
Bock is a term used for a stronger beer (doppel meaning double). Fasting monks found an ingenious way of compensating the lack of food – they started brewing very strong beers. March and October are the two most prominent seasons for brewing these special beers but you can find them year round.
Tour of a Hofbrauhous in Munich