A cold beer on a hot day or after a day of hard work at your favorite watering hole is one of those indispensable, simple pleasures of life. The unlimited universe of beer offers a wide variety of drinking options. From draft to ale to porters to stouts to lager, each with its unique history, taste, and complexity.
One kind of beer that doesn’t quite get the attention and appreciation it deserves is the humble German beer. There is nothing ostentatious about German beer. It is unlikely to come packaged with groovy bottles with funky imagery or have a catchy (video-game inspired) name. Good German beer, with its 800-year-old history, is simple, clean, balanced, and wholesome. And there is plenty of different kinds to suit different occasions and tastes.
Perfect for the cocktail hour in the spring, it is the ideal pick-me-up with its unique wild-fruit flavors. Low on both sweetness and bitterness, Berliner Weissbier tastes tart and can accompany buttery soft cheeses and creamy canapés. A bartender worth his salt will add a dash of berry-flavored syrup to accentuate the vibrancy of the brew.
Rich and bold, Dunkels (dark wheat beer) are robust and darker in both texture and flavor. Dunkels traditionally have a dark chocolate note to them. However, modern Dunkels have the added intensity of clove notes. You can pair them with poultry dishes to compliment the main course or serve them with pies and desserts to juxtapose the contrast.
Sharp, crisp, and bright, the Kölsch, is uniquely reminiscent of a fizzy white wine. With lingering notes of apricots and grapes, it is the perfect beer for summer-time picnics and barbeques. The full-bodied and rich texture and taste of red meat are beautifully complemented by the light and clean flavor profile of Kölsch.
Dortmunder Export Lager
Refreshingly dry, malty, and clean, a “Dort” was and remains the working man/woman’s beer of choice. This golden, crisp beer is the perfect accompaniment to most pub staples like chips, fried finger food, and cocktail snacks. It is also a good beer to serve at dinners consisting of poultry, shellfish, and seafood.
Arguably, Germany’s most popular export, the “Pils”, is definitely the most recognizable. Floral in aroma, Pils is crisp, zesty, and leaves a slightly bitter after-taste. Perfect for a summer barbeque or a night out with friends.
Helles, which literally translated means pale, is lighter than Dunkel and crisper than the Pils. Refreshing and cool, it is the perfect everyday beer, something to kick back with after a hard day at work. It pairs exceptionally well with shellfish and salads.
The “black beer” Schwarzbier is the dark horse of German beer and an unexpectedly pleasant surprise for the palette. Though robust and rich, it isn’t bitter or intense. Contrary to expectations, it is light and tart, with notes of chocolate and nuts. The perfect winter beer, it is best paired with game meats, pastries, and hearty sauce-based dishes.
Germany ranks third in the per capita consumption of beer. Germans love their beer, and German beer is some of the finest produced in the world. With strict laws prohibiting brewers from adding anything besides hops, malt, and water to beer, German beer’s formidable reputation is both well-earned and conscientiously upheld.