One of Germany’s most famous and popular drinks is beer – Germans have been brewing beer for over 2000 years, and today, you can try over 5000 different brands, handcrafted in 1300 breweries all over the country. To get a real taste of Germany, skip the ubiquitous Pils for a more adventurous brew and savor a local beer. From smoked brews in Bavaria, to woodruff-laced wheat beer in Berlin, here are the many flavors of German beer.
1. Kölsch Beer in Cologne
Visit a traditional beer pub in Cologne, and you'll probably only find one beer on the menu: Kölsch. Locals are proud of their beer, which is brewed exclusively in the Cologne region. The pale and light-bodied Kölsch is served in thin, cylindrical glasses called “Stangen” (poles), and it is a tradition that beer pub waiters, clad in blue shirt, dark trousers and apron, will bring you one Kölsch after the other, unless you leave your beer glass half full or cover it with your beer mat to let them know you are done.
2. Altbier in DüsseldorfDüsseldorf is the city of Altbier, a German style brown ale. “Alt” means old, and the name refers to the pre-lager brewing method of using warm top-fermenting yeast like British pale ales. The best place to try your hoppy "Alt" is in a traditional beer pub, which brews its beer on premises; look out for pubs like "Fuechschen", "Schumacher", "Schluessel", or "Uerige" in Düsseldorf’s Old Town.
3. Hefeweizen in BavariaBavaria has more breweries than any other region in Germany – you can find more than half of the country’s breweries here, which translates into many great beer styles. The brew you should definitely try is the most famous and original wheat beer: Hefeweizen (literally “yeast wheat”), a cloudy wheat ale topped by a white foamy head, whose fruity aroma is reminiscent of bananas and cloves.
4. Berliner Weisse in BerlinThe German capital is famous for a beer called Berliner Weisse, a light and sour wheat beer, which is sweetened by a shot of raspberry or woodruff-flavored syrup. Back in the days, Napoleon’s troops called this popular drink “Champagne of the North”. Today, Berliner Weisse is served in bowl-shaped glasses, and locals love to drink this refreshing beer with a straw.
5. Smoked Beer in BambergThe small town of Bamberg in Franconia, home to 10 breweries, is famous for its amber-colored smoked beer, called "Rauchbier". The secret of this beer’s mild smoked flavor is the century-old process of drying malt over an open fire made from beech wood logs. Try the Aecht Schlenkerla and Spezial beer from Bamberg, which is only sold within 9 miles of the city.
6. Gose Beer in LeipzigLeipzig, the capital of Saxony in the East of Germany, is home to the Gose beer. This unusal beer is spiced up with coriander seeds and - unlike any other German beer - it is brewed with lightly salty water. Its tart and crispy taste makes it a refreshing summer beer, and Gose is often paired with seafood.