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Types of German Beers

Aug 17, 2007
German beer - you have to admit, is one of the finest tasting beers you can drink. German breweries are pretty secretive about their "how tos". They all seem to say it's in the water. I'm sure there's some truth to that, but what really gives the beer it's great flavor is the hops which is traded as seriously as grapes for wine makers.

Most German beers are great tasting because all are vegan (no animal products are used). Bavarian purity laws limit them to four ingredients only: water, grain, hops and yeast. Real German beer is also not pasteurized as many American beers are, which lets you taste the beer's real flavor.

Listed below are some of the different types of German beers typically found in Bavaria and what you can expect should you order one of these types.

Ein "Helles", bitte ( A lite beer)
The standard light beer, when you order a "Helles" in a pub or restaurant you'll most likely end up with a pint. Depending on the brewer it can be quite refreshing. Some beer gardens have responded to the public's demand for smaller quantities and now also offer them outdoors, the "real" beer garden only serves the "Mass" (one quart) - pronounced "maus". By the way, Germany has laws governing the quantity of liquids served to the public, that is why you will find level markers on each glass. If your Mass looks like it is not quite 1 liter after the foam settles, just go back and ask for "bitte nachschenken". The man at the keg will be impressed that you know your way around.

Ein "Pils" (A Pilsener)
If you like a more bitter and less malty taste try the pils which is also called pilsner. You can order them in restaurants and special pils bars. Take a closer look at the time consuming process of serving a foam crowned pils with perfection. You will see dozens of glasses filled with foam only, waiting to settle. It can take a good quarter of an hour for the foam refills to turn into the golden liquid.

Ein "Dunkeles" (A dark beer)
Against popular beliefs it is not the most powerful in alcohol contents. It is basically a lager bottom brewed beer containing "toasted" malt.

Ein "Weissbier" (A white beer)
A very good idea when the sun is shining and you prefer being refreshed by a lighter tasting beer. Weizen means wheat, often called a Weissbier (white), and is served in tall and elegant 1/2 liter glasses. But beware of its "light" character, it is the strongest in alcohol. While some will serve it with a slice of lemon, do not put one in your Hefe (yeast) Weissbier. The Hefeweissbier comes only in bottles, a professional will wet the glass and pour the bottle at a steep angle. With the foam that remains at the bottom of the bottle he will collect the yeast (swirling action) and add it to your beer.

Ein Bock und Doppelbock (A Bock beer)
Bock is term used for a stronger beer (doppel meaning double even more so). Fasting monks found an ingenious way of compensating the lack of food - they started brewing very strong beers. March and October are the two most prominent seasons for brewing these special beers.
About the Author
Evelyn Becker writes articles for Deutsches Haus http://www.deutscheshaus.cc which is located in St. Paul, Minnesota. Deutsches Haus offers German collectibles, souvenirs, gifts and foods.
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