About German Beer

Germany: A Matter of Purity

There is good evidence that grain beverages were brewed by ancient Egyptian and Middle Eastern cultures, but many Europeans commonly credit the development of beer as we know it to Bavarian brewers of the 16th century. It is no surprise, then, that Germany exemplifies a beer-drinking nation with rich historical ties to many of the styles consumers still encounter today.

Beer purity is a cornerstone of the German beer-making process. The Reinheitsgebot, or Beer Purity Law, originally stipulated the strict use of only water, barley and hops in brewing. The law was later modified to include yeast upon it’s discovery. German-brewed beer is still largely produced under this law.

Germany’s strong regional brewing traditions have given rise to many popular beer styles. Hamburg is known for its dry pilsner-style lagers. Berlin specializes in tart Berliner weisse beer. Dortmund is world famous for its rich “export” lagers. Dusseldorf clings to its traditional alt beers, and Cologne continues to produce refreshing kölsch beers. Luckily for U.S. consumers, Germany remains the world’s largest beer exporter by a wide margin, making these regional styles—along with others like Munich helles-style lagers and weizen beers—available in the U.S. market.

In recent years, German beer consumption has seen an uncharacteristic decline. The result of this decline has been a decrease in the number of commercial breweries in the country, though Germany still remains a major player in the beer industry overall.
Top Picks for Germany
Hofbräuhaus München
Hofbräu Maibock
Pure copper color. Layered aromas of fresh baguette, toasted nuts, and earth follow through on the dryish, frothy medium-to-full body. The finish is long and perfectly balanced with a seamless marriage of nutty bready malt and noble hops. A fantastic maibock.
Date Tasted: 5/2/2012 in our Chicago tasting lab
Aktienbrauerei Kaufbeuren
ABK Hell
Pale bright golden amber color. Bright, toasty aromas and flavors of fresh baguette and pretzel bread and lemon herb butter with a silky, vibrant, effervescent, off-dry light-to-medium body and an even, delightful, breezy kale and lettuces and toasted grain and nuts finish. A clean, precise helles that delivers loads of refreshment.
Date Tasted: 4/6/2016 in our Chicago tasting lab
Privatbrauerei Hofmühl
Privat Pils
Light brilliant yellow color. Delicate, attractive aromas and flavors of fried egg, carrot nut muffin, and white toffee with a soft, bright, fizzy, fruity light-to-medium body and a polished, interesting, medium-length corn pudding, arugula, radish, and reduced lemon finish. A smooth, flavorful, seamless pilsner.
Date Tasted: 11/10/2015 in our Chicago tasting lab
Brauweisse Hefeweizen
Hazy light gold color. Bright, attractive, fruity aromas of banana nut muffin, spiced nuts, and clay with a supple, bright, effervescent, off-dry light-to-medium body and a smooth, appealing, breezy grainy bread, banana custard, tall grass, and minerals finish. A delicious rich and grainy hefe.
Date Tasted: 7/7/2015 in our Chicago tasting lab
Privatbrauerei Aying
Ayinger Bräuweisse
Hazy old gold color. Aromas of banana muffin, peppery spices, meringue, and clay with a crisp, plush, dry-yet-fruity medium body and an apple, baking spice, and radish accented finish. Classically styled, vibrant and delicious.
Date Tasted: 7/10/2013 in our Chicago tasting lab
Hofbräuhaus München
Hofbräu Oktoberfest
Deep old gold color. Aromas and flavors of peach and banana soufflés, fresh baguette, and nougat with a crisp, dryish medium-to-full body and a seamless citrus, grassy, nut and earth driven finish. A sensational pure and stylish Octoberfest beer.
Date Tasted: 11/12/2012 in our Chicago tasting lab
Privatbrauerei Aying
Ayinger Ur-Weisse
Cloudy pale copper color. Aromas and flavors of honeyed zucchini bread, banana gelato, and spicy pound cake with a supple, fruity-yet-dry medium-full body and long, seamless jicama and microgreens accented finish. Fantastically flavorful and balanced.
Date Tasted: 7/10/2012 in our Chicago tasting lab
Privatbrauerei Hofmühl
Hofmühl Hell
Light brilliant clear pink gold color. Delicate, attractive aromas and flavors of frittata, buttered baguette, and popcorn with an bright, fizzy, fruity medium body and a tingling, interesting, medium-length roasted corn, honeyed lemon, pepper, and greens finish. A delicious and spot-on helles.
Date Tasted: 11/10/2015 in our Chicago tasting lab
Privatbrauerei Hofmühl
Hofmühl Weissbier
Slightly hazy pale amber color. Aromas of bananas, praline, citrus zest, and pretzel bread with a supple, dry-yet-fruity medium body and a graceful, lightly spicy banana bread pudding and fleur de sal finish. A delicious and precisely made hefe.
Date Tasted: 7/7/2014 in our Chicago tasting lab
Privatbrauerei Aying
Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock
Dark brown with a reddish cast. Aromas of chocolate covered fruits, grains, and nuts with a hint of meat with a supple, dry-yet-fruity medium-to-full body and a crisp, toffee and latte accented finish. A bit more lighter framed than previous bottlings and a great choice for the table.
Date Tasted: 3/11/2014 in our Chicago tasting lab