Germany is considered by many to be one of the most beer-producing countries in the world, and not without reason. The country’s Purity Law (Reinheitsgebot) and the high standards dictated by this iron tradition have built a unique culture around this beverage, which has transcended borders. Here, we recommend six styles of Teutonic beers that everyone should try.
When they think of German beer, for many it’s those light, refreshing beers that come to mind. However, before the strict monopoly on barley in Bavaria, the classic beer in Munich was the dark beer, which originated in the 16th century. Brewed with dark malts, this beer is a delicious contradiction. Roasted but with a light flavor, bitter yet caramelized. Some may know of a watered down version sold in Mexico called León, though it is far from the contradictory complexity of the original style. Better to look for Hofbräu Dunkel.
- #FunFact This style was the first to be subjected to the Purity Law.
- Pairings: meat stews, smoked fish, caramelized desserts.
Pils or Pilsener (depending on the brand) is the most popular beer in Germany. Although the style originates from the city of Plzeň, in the present-day Czech Republic, it has quickly become one of the most consumed in the world. An interesting fact is that a new technique was used for its elaboration in which they used clarified malt that produced a clear and bright beer. It is characterized by its golden color, bitter flavor, and hoppy aroma. It is refreshing and dry. Perfect after a day in the sun. I recommend Flensburger Pilsner.
- Pairings: grilled chicken, meat, or fish. Mimetic by nature, it goes well with almost any food.
Coming in with the strong beers is the Oktoberfestbier – a seasonal one that is served during the Oktoberfest in Munich. Strictly speaking, it is a Märzen, produced in March before the factories temporarily close in the summer. It is characterized by its malty flavor, mild bitterness, and a higher alcohol content.
- #FunFact Oktoberfest has been celebrated since 1810 to commemorate the wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. The Oktoberfestbier abounds during this lively festival of beer and delicious food, as does the traditional roast chicken. In Mexico, there are two brands available: Hofbräu and Paulaner.
- Pairing: pork shank in beer sauce, grilled sausages, heavy stews, or carnitas.
For me, the Doppelbock is the most interesting style of all German beers (in tough competition with Rauchbier), because it is the most complex, crazy, and forceful there is. A jewel for those wanting some intensity.
Due to its alcoholic content it was known as “liquid bread” as it was often used as a substitute for bread during religious fasting. The first Doppelbock beer was produced by the Paulaner brewery in Munich in the 17th century. The monks named it Salvator, as they considered beer a gift from God, one that allowed them to survive (without eating) during the Lent fast. It has a sweet flavor with a slight alcoholic presence and a subtly bitter finish. It has a myriad of fragrances – notes of caramel, burnt sugar, and toffee, a slight bit of cocoa and mocha with hints of raisined fruit. A fullness of flavors that are best enjoyed when the beer is NOT chilled but warm (8-10 °C).
All beers with the ending “–tor” correspond to this style. If you see Ayinger Celebrator, buy it, it’s a WONDER. There is also Bajuvator de Tucher or Salvator de Paulaner.
- Pairing: this is a beer to enjoy alone. It can be accompanied by desserts that highlight its caramel notes. Some strong cheeses could make a great combination.
Love it or loathe it, this beer doesn’t concede indecision. Smoked beers, or Rauchbier, originate from the city of Bamberg, in northern Bavaria. The composition of its flavor is worth mentioning as it is a very complex drink. Its body is very light and easy, but on the nose it is another story, as the aroma is reminiscent of smoke or smoked meats such as bacon.
Rauchbier is said to have originated when malt was dried over a fire in Bamberg, the smoke permeating the air and settling on the malt. Today, this beer is a regional specialty. Recommendation: Schlenkerla.
- Pairing: meats, roast chickens, smoked salmon, salmon or eel nigiri.
Also under the strict dictatorship of the Purity Law (which stipulated that beer should be made only with barley malt), wheat beer, or Hefeweizen, made its way and reigned under its own light throughout southern Germany. The composition is 50 percent wheat malt and 50 percent malted barley, which, together with yeasts, allow for exquisite aromas of banana, pepper, or even clove, accompanied by a bubbly and smooth body. Its high foam and cloudy golden color make it one of the favorites during the sunny German spring. A beer to remember the beautiful moments, like the one I experienced with my father at the Donisl restaurant in Munich, accompanied by a Hefeweizen and a Schweinebraten with Kartoffelknödel, a time I will never forget. Danke für alles!
I recommend any beer from Schneider Weisse.
- Pairings: ceviches, fish, sausages, grilled meats, cured meats or cheeses.
- For my father, Gert Sünner.