Germany is a central European country and has a key place in the world of beer. It is where the Reinheitsgebot originated, and is also where lager was invented. It is home to Oktoberfest, which is attended each year by six million people.
With over 1,300 breweries, Germany is second only to the United States in that category.
There is a variety of different types of German beer, such as:
- Top-fermenting beers
- Altbier — a dark amber, hoppy beer brewed around Düsseldorf and Lower Rhine. 11-12° Plato, 4.5-5% ABV.
- Kölsch — pale, light-bodied, beer which can only legally be brewed in the Cologne region. 11-12° Plato, 4.5-5% ABV.
- Weizen — wheat beer 12-12.5° Plato, 5-5.6% ABV.
- Weizenbock — strong, dark, wheat beer. 16-17° Plato, 6.5-8% ABV.
- Berliner Weisse — a pale, very sour, wheat beer brewed in Berlin. Usually drunk with the addition of fruit syrup. 9° Plato, 2.5-5% ABV.
- Leipziger Gose — an amber, very sour, wheat beer brewed around Leipzig. It disappeared between 1966 and 1985, when it was revived by Lothar Goldhahn. 10-12° Plato, 4-5% ABV.
- Roggenbier — a fairly dark beer made with rye, somewhat grainy flavor similar to bread, 4.5-6% ABV.
- Bottom-fermenting beers
- Helles — a pale, malty lager from Bavaria of 11-12° Plato, 4.5-5% ABV
- Schwarzbier — a bottom-fermented, dark lager beer with a full, roasty, chocolatey flavor. 11-12° Plato, 4.5-5% ABV.
- Pilsener — a pale lager with a light body and a more prominent hop character. 11-12° Plato, 4.5-5% ABV. By far the most popular style, with around two thirds of the market.
- Export — a pale lager that is fuller, maltier and less hoppy than Pilsener. 12-12.5° Plato, 5-5.5% ABV. Germany's most popular style in the 1950s and 1960s, it's becoming increasingly rare.
- Spezial — a pale, full, bitter-sweet and delicately hopped lager. 13-13.5° Plato, 5.5-5.7% ABV.
- Kellerbier — any of the other styles served unfiltered. It comes in a wide variety of colors and strengths.
- Dunkel — dark lager which comes in two main varieties: the sweetish, malty Munich style and the drier, hoppy Franconian style
- Rauchbier — usually dark in color and smoky in taste from the use of smoked malt. A specialty of the Bamberg region. 12-13° Plato, 5-5.5% ABV.
- Bock — an amber, heavy-bodied, bitter-sweet lager. 16-17° Plato, 6.5-7% ABV.
- Dunkles Bock — a dark, heavy bodied lager darkened by high-colored malts. 16-17° Plato, 6.5-7% ABV.
- Maibock — a pale, strong lager darkened brewed in the Spring. 16-17° Plato, 6.5-7% ABV.
- Doppelbock — a powerful, very full-bodied lager darkened by high-coloured malts. 18-28° Plato, 8-12% ABV.
- Eisbock — a freeze distilled variation of Doppelbock. 18-28° Plato, 9-15% ABV.
- Märzen — medium body, malty lagers that come in pale, amber and dark varieties. 13-14° Plato, 5.2-6% ABV. The type of beer traditionally served at the Munich Oktoberfest.
Brands and breweries
While the beer market is weaker but more centralized in northern Germany (the biggest brands being Beck's, Krombacher, Veltins, Warsteiner, and Bitburger), the south has lots of very small, local breweries. The highest density of breweries in the world is found near the city of Bamberg, in the Franconia region of Bavaria. In total, there are approximately 1,300 breweries in Germany producing over 5,000 brands of beer. One of these breweries, the Benedictine abbey Weihenstephan (established in 725) is reputedly the oldest existing brewery in the world (brewing since 1040).
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