Beer is undoubtedly a vital part of German culture, a lot of emotion and sentiment can be attached to this national drink. Germans are really proud of their fantastic product, which brings people together and represents tradition and evokes a lot of passion.
German beer culture has to be appreciated and celebrated, because it reatained a lot of values and curiosities. Germany is regarded as one of the biggest beer nations in the world (alongside the Czech Republic and Austria). The country is in fact the birthplace of lager beer, but the word ‘lager’ does not indicate a style, but rather a production method.
There is a German Beer Purity Law (or Bavarian Purity Law) called „Reinheitsgebot” that dates back to the sixteenth century. This law appointed the preparation of the beer from water, malt and hops, since yeast was not yet discovered then.
There are four types of beers in Germany: wheat beers (Weizenbier, Weizenbock, Roggenbier, Berliner Weisse, Leipziger Gose, Hefeweizen, Kristallweizen, Kottbusser), pale beers (Altbier, Export, Helles, Kölsch, Maibock, Marzen, Pilsener, Spezial), dark beers (Bock, Doppelbock, Dunkles, Schwarzbier) and unfiltered beer (Kellerbiers). Almost half of the breweries are in Bavaria, so this region may be considered as the center of German beer culture.
There are around 1500 breweries in Germany producing over 5000 brands of beer. The alcohol content of beers is usually between 4.7 % and 5.4%. Wihenstephan brewery (founded in 725) is the oldest existing brewery in the world, brewing since 1040. Oettinger is the most popular brand in Germany at the moment.
The most popular beer event in Germany is undeniably the Oktoberfest, which is 16-18 day long. Large quantities of beer is consumed during this event, almost 7 million liter of beer is served ordinarily.
Some people are worried about the future of German brewing: according to the statistics the production has dropped to less than 100 million hectoliters for the first time since 1990 (the reunification). The same is true about consumption, it inclined to less than 100 million hectoliters last year alone.
Experienced brew masters are heading to the United States due to the hopeless situation. Young graduates of Weihenstephan’s brew master program are not enthusiastic about their profession and they rather head for jobs in engineering or pharmaceutical industries.„Brauereisterben” is the term people use for the phenomena.
Löwenbrau (which means lion’s brew in German) is a Munich based brewery owned by Anheiser-Busch InBev. Löwenbrau was founded around 1383. The famous logo depicts the famous story of Daniel in the lion’s den from the Old Testament.
Löwenbrau became the biggest brewery in Münich in 1863. Löwenbrau exports a lot of beer to North America, where it is considered as the archetype of Munich beer. Only beers that are brewed in Munich are permitted to be sold at Oktoberfest.
Löwenbrau’s Oktoberfestbier (which is prepared especially for this occasion) has been served at every festival since the beginning of the 19th century. They produce 11 kinds of beers: Original (for export), Münchner Hell, Münchner Dunkel (a dark lager), Triumphator (a doppelbock), Alkoholfrei (non-alcoholic), Urtyp (traditional helles), Pils, Dunkle Weisse, Löwen Weisse Hell (a hefeweizen), Radler Beer (a radler), Oktoberfestbier (brewed for Oktoberfest).
The brewery is in the Arnsberg Forest Nature Park outside of Warstein, North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany. The house was foundeed by the Cramer family in 1753, which is in fact the biggest private brewery and ranks number 4 among Germany’s best selling breweries.
Warsteiner Premium Verum’ is their most popular beer, which is exported to ever 60 countries. The brewery suffered some damage during the World War II. The freshly reconstructed house produce 5000 bottles per hour. All beers are made in accordance with the German Purity Law of 1516.
In every year, Warsteiner makes a seasonal beer named “Oktoberfest” for the Bavarian festival. In 1921 the brewery brought a property called Bürgerbraukeller, which place is noted as the location of Adolf Hitler’s unsuccesful Beer Hall Putsch led against the state of Bavaria.
The Brewery was owned by a Jewish man, which made the nazis to label the beer as „Jewbeer”. The irony of the fate is that the building was destroyed during an Allied air raid.
4. Weihenstephan Monastery Brewery
Weihenstephan is the oldest existing brewery in the world, which was founded in 725 upon the Weihenstephan Hill by Saint Corbinian and twelve of his companions.
The Monastery was destroyed by the Hungarians in 955, which forced the Benedictine monks to reconstruct the building. The beer brewing began officially in 1040, that was the year when Abbot Arnold obtained a licence for brewing and selling the beer. This became a repeating tradition from that time.
Basically the brewing process has not changed since then, even though it had adapted to the requirements of the high-tech age. Wheat beer is their flagship, but other varieties my also be enjoyed. ‘Weiss’ means white, these beers are usually hazy with a yeasty, spicy and banana aroma. The global cognizance is guaranteed by more than 100 employees, who are very enthusiastic about the making of this delicate beverage.
3. Brauerei Aying
Brauerei Aying stood the test of time in brewing and hospitality (it is operated by the same family since the establishment of the house).
It was founded in a beautiful, 1200 year-old village called Aying near Munich in 1878, and they still produce top category beers in the shadow of the Alps.
The brewery consistently wons awards from different World Beer Championships, as the European Beer Star, the Stockholm Beer & Whiskey Festival, the European Beer Star, the Calagary Brewfest etc.
Ayinger was ranked as the „Best brewery in Germany” based on the opinion of thousands of consumers. They produce 12 different styles of Bavarian speciality beers, so the palette is really broad. Long maturation is the key for their preparation.
The beers can be characterized with a pale, amber color and banana flavor. It’s champagne sparkle expresses properly the aristocratic attitude of this traditional German beer. The ideal temperature for consumption is 6-8 degrees. The beer should be spilled out slowly, but leave a little in the bottom of the bottle, swirl it and pour it on the top of the glass to have a beautiful cone of foam there, which is really esthetic and toothsome.
2. Berliner Weisse
Berliner weisse is a top-fermented, sour, fruity and effervescent beer that can be produced only in Berlin, the name is protected by an appellation d’origine côntrollée. Surprisingly the alcohol content of this beer is quite low: only 2,5-2,7 %, that is why it falls in the category of Schankbier, which means a sort of session beer.
Anteriorly the beer was much stronger, but the trend has changed ever since. In the 19th century Berliner Weisse was the most popular alcoholic beverage in Berlin, 700 breweries produced the white beer. By now the popularity has faded a lot: there are only two breweries left in the region: Berliner Weisse and Schultheiss, both owned by Oetker group.
Breweries from other parts of the world also produce white beer in a Berliner style ( inTexas, California and Georgia counties of the USA). When tourists come to Berlin to have a little fun and escape the nuisance of everyday life, they used to consommate it with a shot („Schuss”) of raspberry syrup to cut the acrimony of the beer. Traditional warm-fermenting yeasts and lactobacillus culture is used during fermentation.
Berliner weisse is an ideal summer drink, since there is no residual sugar left in it, so it can be really refreshing on a hot afternoon. The beer is traditionally served in a bowl-shaped glass, and it may be also mixed with other drinks like pale lager to balance the sourness.
1. Mahrs Brau
Mahrs brau is a family owned and operated brewery, doing their work for pleasure, they really enjoy what they are doing. Of course enjoyment does not equal the lack of responsibility and confidence, which means the family members dedicated themselves for the proper ingredients, the quality of brewing and the respect of nature.
They choose the used materials carefully and they purchase form impartially certified local cultivators, using their ressources sustainably and consciously. Everything runs on green energy. Character is the most important notion here.
Mahrs do not want to fall into line with the mass producers, they want to bring out individuality, character of their beers, let it be thrilling and exciting. They always look forward and cherish new ideas for the future, but do not forget the traditions, which are well-respected. The foundation of the house dates back to 1895, when the ancestor of the family bought the brewery in Upper Franconia.
The house produces nine varieties of beer, which are really fresh and distinctive.
German beers are really special and enjoyable! Get yourself together and for example spend a weekend in Bavaria to discover it’s unique cultural aptitudes and make a beer trip around it’s best breweries to taste their various flavors, see the palette of their colors and smell their special odors. Hold on, in our next article we wil discuss the best beers produced by the United Kingdom.