O'zapft is! Oktoberfest season is upon us, and German beer favorites are back. Whether you drink these timeless brews in the fall or all year round it’s no surprise that they’re a favorite amongst beer consumers. With so many different styles, you’re bound to find one that you like! In fact, approximately 7 million liters of beer are consumed during Oktoberfest alone. However, there’s more to love about German beer than just the taste. These classics are overflowing with history! So, grab a stein and sit back, you might learn a thing or two about your favorite bee
While Germans did not invent beer, there are several varieties that were created in Germany. Beer itself originates from the Middle East and is over 13,000 years old while German’s brewing history dates to over 1,000 years. Babylonians and Egyptians were the first to discover the art and it was later passed to the Romans, who weren’t exactly big fans of the drink and considered it to be a drink for barbarians. However, ancient Germans had high regard for beer and thought it to be a sacrifice to the gods. That’s where Germany’s beer history begins, in 12th century Bohemia. The Weissbier style caught on quickly and the wheat beer brewing process was soon monopolized by the Degenberg family for 80 years before passing it off to the Wittelsbach family, who truly monopolized it. The Weissbier style was to be served at every Bavarian inn for 200 years.
It wasn’t until 1798 that Weissbier could be sold to other monasteries and private breweries, like Weihenstephan, the oldest brewery in Germany. In fact, they still produce beer today!
Origination of German Beer Types
After years of Weissbier being on top in Bavaria, lager brewing came on the scene after the German Purity Laws, Reineitsgebot, regulated the production of beer to only Barley, Hops and Water (yeast was later added). This resulted in classic lager styles like the Märzen, Helles, Rauchbier, Kellerbier, Dunkel, Schwarzbier, and Bock. Although these regulations are not as strict in modern day Germany, this “pure” badge of honor is still a selling point for authentic German-made beer.
German Beer Styles
Now that you know some of the rich history behind German-crafted beer, let’s take a look at some of the styles!
Weissbier (Wheat Beer) – a light-colored beer and one of the first original styles. It’s known for its high content of malted wheat and barley. The fermentation process produces tones of banana and clove.
Gose – a wheat beer from Goslar that is typically tart, sour and salty.
Kölsch – native to Cologne, this ale is light and crispy with a yellow-hue.
Berliner Weiss - a low ABV version of a Weissbier from Berlin. It’s usually enjoyed with a splash of sweet fruit syrup to cut the bitterness.
Pilsner – originates from Pilsen of Bohemia (now known as the Czech Republic). This lager is a pale to golden in color and is a light, crisp beer with a floral aroma.
Helles or Dunkles Lager - from Dortmund and Munich. It’s a pale crisp lager akin to a Pilsner.
Schwarzbier – comes from Eastern German states of Thuringia and Saxony and is known for its dark color due to long roasted dark malts.
Märzen/Oktoberfest Beer - first brewed by Spaten, especially during their Oktoberfest celebrations. This copper-colored lager is mildly hoppy and toasty.
Export Lager - from Dortmund and Munich. It’s a malty, crisp and quite dry lager.
Rauchbier – originates in Bamberg in Bavaria. This lager utilizes malt that has been smoked over open flames, giving it a strong smoky and rich malt flavor.
Bock/Doppelbock - dark, heavy, and malty beers enjoyed during the winter months.
So many beer styles, so little time! Whether you’re an ale or lager person, there are various options of German beer to try. At Twin Oast, we mix traditional German offerings with a modern American sentiment, and we’re deeply inspired by the German beer process. The first beer our Founder fell in love with was a Bavarian Hefeweizen which is why we offer it year-round!
The next time you crack open a beer, remember where that beer came from and all the rich history that follows it. And don’t forget, we’re always up for a beer at Twin Oast! Prost!