The Ultimate Guide To German Beer Brands: From Traditional Styles To Modern Favorites

The Ultimate Guide To German Beer Brands: From Traditional Styles To Modern Favorites

Friends enjoying beer garden in traditional German setting, celebrating life and friendship.

Delving into the world of German beers can feel like an overwhelming task, with so many different brands and styles to explore. Did you know that Germany boasts over 1,300 breweries and produces nearly 5,000 different types of beer? Our ultimate guide simplifies this process by breaking down the traditional styles and modern favorites of German beer for your convenience.

Ready to become a connoisseur? Let's immerse ourselves in the rich tradition of German brewing!

Key Takeaways

  • Germany has over 1,300 breweries and produces nearly 5,000 different types of beer.
  • Traditional German beer styles include Pilsner, Helles or Dunkles Lager, Export Lager, Kölsch and Altbier, Weißbier (Wheat Beer), Starkbier or Bockbier, Schwarzbier, Berliner Weisse – Red or Green, Märzen or Oktoberfestbier, Gose, Zwickl – Unfiltered (Naturtrübes) Beer , Rauchbier (Smoked Beer), Radler or Alsterwasser.
  • Some popular modern German beer favorites are Beck's and BRLO Pale Ale.

Traditional German Beer Styles

Colorful German beer steins in a lively beer garden showcase craftsmanship.

Traditional German Beer Styles include Pilsner, Helles or Dunkles Lager, Export Lager, Kölsch and Altbier, Weißbier (Wheat Beer), Starkbier or Bockbier, Schwarzbier, Berliner Weisse – Red or Green, Märzen or Oktoberfestbier, Gose, Zwickl – Unfiltered (Naturtrübes) Beer, Rauchbier (Smoked Beer), Radler or Alsterwasser.


Pilsner is a type of German beer that people love. It has golden colors and gives off a fresh, crispy taste. Crafters use light barley malt to make it. This beer stands out for its clear, clean look.

Some pilsners can have a strong hop flavor due to the hops used during brewing. It's perfect when you want a cool drink on hot days!

Helles or Dunkles Lager

Helles Lager is a light beer from Germany. It has a pale gold color and mild taste. This beer gives off a sweet smell of malt, grain, and bread. Helles Lager does not have much bitterness.

Dunkles Lager is also German but it is darker than Helles Lager. Its color comes from dark roasted malt used in brewing it. The Dunkles gives off tastes of chocolate or caramel with no heavy feel on the tongue.

Both Lagers are part of the big German beer history that you might want to try!

Export Lager

Export Lager is a type of German beer. It has more hops and alcohol than other kinds. This makes it last longer without going bad. Beer makers first made Export Lager for long trips by ship or wagon.

Now, people enjoy this beer all over the world, not just in Germany. Its taste is strong but smooth, with hints of grain and fruit flavors.

Kölsch and Altbier

Kölsch and Altbier are two traditional German beer styles that beer drinkers should know. Kölsch is a light, crisp, and pale ale that originated in Cologne (Köln), Germany. It has a balanced flavor with subtle fruitiness and a clean finish.

Altbier, on the other hand, is a darker amber ale from Düsseldorf. It has a malty character with hints of caramel and toasted bread flavors. Both styles are refreshing and great options for those who enjoy flavorful yet easy-drinking beers.

So if you're looking to explore traditional German beer styles, don't forget to give Kölsch and Altbier a try!

Weißbier (Wheat Beer): Kristall, Hefe and Dark

Weißbier, also known as wheat beer, is a popular style in Germany. There are three common variations: Kristall, Hefe, and Dark. Kristall Weißbier is clear and filtered to remove the yeast, resulting in a bright appearance.

Hefeweizen (or Hefe) Weißbier is unfiltered and has a cloudy appearance due to the presence of yeast. It often has flavors of banana and clove. Dark Weißbier, also called Dunkelweizen or Weissbier Dunkel, has a darker color and richer malt flavors compared to the other two styles.

These wheat beers are refreshing and perfect for enjoying on a sunny day or pairing with German cuisine like sausages or pretzels.

Starkbier or Bockbier

Starkbier or Bockbier is a strong and flavorful beer style that originates from Germany. It has a rich history and is known for its higher alcohol content compared to other traditional German beers.

Starkbier, which means "strong beer" in German, typically has an alcohol content between 6% to 10%.

One popular type of Starkbier is Bockbier, which translates to "goat beer." Bockbiers are brewed with a combination of malted barley and hops, resulting in a malty flavor profile with hints of caramel and toasted bread.

They have a deep amber color and a smooth, full-bodied texture.

Starkbier or Bockbier is commonly enjoyed during the spring season as it was traditionally brewed by monks during Lent as a nourishing substitute for solid food. This strong brew helped them sustain their energy during fasting periods.


Schwarzbier is a traditional German beer style that translates to "black beer." It is known for its dark color, which comes from the use of roasted malts during the brewing process.

Schwarzbier has a smooth and rich flavor profile with notes of chocolate, coffee, and caramel. Despite its appearance, it is surprisingly light-bodied and easy to drink. The alcohol content typically ranges from 4% to 5%.

Schwarzbier is a great option for those who enjoy darker beers but prefer something less heavy. Some popular brands that produce Schwarzbier include Köstritzer and Einbecker. So if you're looking to try a deliciously dark German beer, give Schwarzbier a try!

Berliner Weisse – Red or Green

Berliner Weisse is a traditional German wheat beer that comes in two popular varieties: red and green. This beer has a tart and refreshing flavor, with hints of sourness and fruitiness.

The red version gets its color from the addition of raspberries or other berries during fermentation, while the green version gets its color from woodruff syrup. Berliner Weisse is typically low in alcohol content, making it a great choice for those who prefer lighter beers.

It's perfect for hot summer days or as an accompaniment to German cuisine. Give Berliner Weisse a try if you enjoy unique and tangy flavors in your beer!

Märzen or Oktoberfestbier

Märzen or Oktoberfestbier is a traditional German beer style that is closely associated with the famous Oktoberfest celebration. It has a rich amber color and a malty flavor profile, with hints of caramel and toasted bread.

Märzen was originally brewed in March (hence the name), then lagered (stored at cool temperatures) throughout the summer for consumption during Oktoberfest. Today, it is enjoyed both in Germany and around the world during this festive event.

With its smooth, balanced taste, Märzen or Oktoberfestbier is a perfect choice for those looking to savor a classic German beer experience.


Gose is a traditional German beer style that originated in the town of Goslar. It's known for its unique taste, which combines sourness with hints of saltiness. Gose is brewed using a mix of malted barley and wheat, and it often contains coriander and salt to give it its distinctive flavor.

The beer is typically low in alcohol content, making it a refreshing choice for those who prefer lighter beers. Gose has gained popularity in recent years among craft beer enthusiasts due to its interesting flavor profile.

If you're looking to try something different and adventurous, Gose is definitely worth a taste!

Zwickl – Unfiltered (Naturtrübes) Beer

Zwickl beer is a type of German beer that is unfiltered, which means it still has all the natural cloudiness and flavors from the brewing process. It's known as "naturtrübes" in German.

Zwickl beers often have a slightly yeasty taste and a full-bodied texture. They're usually amber or golden in color, with a frothy head. This style of beer is popular among craft beer enthusiasts who appreciate its unique and authentic flavor profile.

If you're looking to try something different, give Zwickl – Unfiltered (Naturtrübes) Beer a shot!

Rauchbier (Smoked Beer)

Rauchbier, also known as smoked beer, is a unique German beer style that has a distinct smoky flavor. It is made by smoking the malted barley over beechwood fires during the malting process.

This gives the beer its characteristic aroma and taste reminiscent of smoked meats or campfires. Rauchbier is often amber or dark in color and has a medium to full-bodied texture. It pairs well with hearty dishes like grilled sausages and barbecue.

With its rich smoky flavor, Rauchbier offers beer drinkers a one-of-a-kind taste experience that highlights the skill and creativity of German brewers.

Radler or Alsterwasser

Radler or Alsterwasser is a popular German beer drink that's perfect for those who prefer something lighter and less alcoholic. It's made by mixing beer with a citrus-flavored sodausually lemonade or grapefruit juice.

The result is a refreshing and slightly sweet beverage that's great for hot summer days or after physical activities. Radler typically has an alcohol content of around 2-3%, making it a good option for those looking to enjoy a few drinks without getting too intoxicated.

Alsterwasser is similar to Radler but is mixed with seltzer water instead of lemonade. Both drinks are widely available in Germany and can be enjoyed by people of all ages.

Alcohol-free beer

Alcohol-free beer is a great option for those who want to enjoy the taste of beer without the alcohol content. It is made using a similar brewing process as regular beer, but with a lower or completely removed alcohol content.

This type of beer has become increasingly popular in recent years, as more people are looking for non-alcoholic beverage options. Alcohol-free beer comes in various styles and flavors, so you can still find your favorite type of brew even without the alcohol.

Whether you're looking to cut back on alcohol or simply prefer the taste of beer without getting tipsy, alcohol-free beers offer a satisfying alternative that allows you to indulge in the flavors and aromas of traditional German brewing traditions while staying sober.

Malt beer

Malt beer is a type of German beer that is made using malted barley. It has a rich and malty flavor, with hints of caramel and bread. Malt beer is usually amber or dark in color and has a smooth, full-bodied taste.

It's brewed using traditional methods and often follows the German purity law, which ensures that only water, hops, yeast, and malt are used in the brewing process. Malt beer can vary in alcohol content but typically ranges from 4% to 6% ABV (alcohol by volume).

Some popular examples of malt beers include Märzen, Dunkles Lager, and Bockbier. These beers are perfect for those who enjoy a flavorful brew with a touch of sweetness. So if you're looking to try something different from your usual light lagers or hoppy IPAs, give malt beer a try!

Modern German Beer Favorites

German beer flight on a rustic table, creating a cozy atmosphere.

Some popular modern German beer favorites include Beck's, BRLO Pale Ale, Paulaner Weissbier, Original Weihenstephaner, Löwenbräu Oktoberfest Bier, Hofbräu Munchen, and Berliner Kindl Weisse.


Beck's is one of the modern German beer favorites that you should definitely try. It has a crisp and refreshing taste, perfect for those who enjoy a clean and light beer. With an alcohol content of around 5%, Beck's is great for casual drinking or pairing with various foods.

It is widely available and known for its quality, making it a popular choice both in Germany and internationally. So grab yourself a bottle of Beck's and experience the delicious taste of this classic German beer.

BRLO Pale Ale

BRLO Pale Ale is a modern German beer favorite that beer drinkers should know about. It has a distinct taste and is part of the craft beer scene in Germany. This pale ale has a balanced flavor with hints of citrus and hops.

It also has a moderate alcohol content, making it easy to enjoy without feeling too heavy. BRLO Pale Ale is brewed using traditional methods but with a modern twist, capturing the essence of both worlds.

Whether you're new to craft beers or an experienced enthusiast, trying BRLO Pale Ale will give you an appreciation for the innovation happening in German beer today.

Paulaner Weissbier

Paulaner Weissbier is a popular German beer brand that beer drinkers should definitely try. It falls under the category of wheat beers, known as Weissbier in German. Paulaner offers different variations of this style, including Hefe (yeast), Kristall (filtered), and Dunkel (dark).

The beer has a refreshing taste with fruity and spicy notes, making it perfect for warm weather or any occasion. With its long history and reputation for quality, Paulaner Weissbier is a must-try for anyone looking to explore traditional German beer styles.

So grab a cold bottle and enjoy the authentic flavors of Germany!

Original Weihenstephaner: one of the oldest German beers

Original Weihenstephaner is one of the oldest German beers. It has a rich history that dates back centuries, making it a true classic. This beer is brewed by the Bavarian State Brewery Weihenstephan, which has been producing beer since 768 AD.

The Original Weihenstephaner follows traditional brewing methods and uses only high-quality ingredients to create its distinctive flavor. With its smooth and balanced taste, this beer is loved by both locals and beer enthusiasts around the world.

So if you're looking to try an authentic German beer with a long-standing reputation, Original Weihenstephaner should definitely be on your list.

Löwenbräu Oktoberfest Bier

Löwenbräu Oktoberfest Bier is a German beer brand that is perfect for celebrating the famous Oktoberfest. This beer has a rich and malty flavor, with hints of caramel and toasted bread.

It has a smooth and crisp finish, making it easy to drink. Löwenbräu Oktoberfest Bier has an alcohol content of around 6%, so you can enjoy it without getting too tipsy. Whether you're wearing lederhosen or not, this beer will transport you to the lively atmosphere of Oktoberfest.

So raise your glass and say "Prost!" as you savor the taste of Löwenbräu Oktoberfest Bier.

Hofbräu Munchen

Hofbräu Munchen is a popular German beer brand that you should definitely try. It has a long history dating back to 1589 when it was brewed for the first time in Munich. Today, Hofbräu Munchen is known for its traditional Bavarian-style beers, including their flagship beer, the Hofbräu Original.

This lager has a crisp and refreshing taste with a slightly malty flavor. Another famous beer from Hofbräu Munchen is their Hefeweizen, which is an unfiltered wheat beer known for its fruity and clove-like flavors.

Whether you're enjoying Oktoberfest or just looking to experience authentic German beer, Hofbräu Munchen should be on your list of must-try brands.

Berliner Kindl Weisse

Berliner Kindl Weisse is a traditional German beer style that originates from Berlin. It is a sour wheat beer that is often enjoyed during the summer months. This beer has a refreshing and tart taste, with hints of lemon and citrus flavors.

Berliner Kindl Weisse has a low alcohol content, making it a light and easy-drinking option. It is typically served with flavored syrups such as raspberry or woodruff to add sweetness to the sourness of the beer.

Berliner Kindl Weisse is known for its cloudy appearance and effervescence, making it visually appealing as well as delicious to consume.

Review of Popular German Beer Brands

There are many popular German beer brands that beer drinkers should try. One of them is Beck's, which is known for its crisp and refreshing taste. Another favorite is BRLO Pale Ale, a modern German beer with a hoppy flavor.

Paulaner Weissbier is another top choice, especially if you enjoy wheat beers. If you're looking for something traditional, Original Weihenstephaner is one of the oldest German beers and has a rich history behind it.

Löwenbräu Oktoberfest Bier and Hofbräu Munchen are great options for those who want to experience the authentic flavors of Oktoberfest. And if you're feeling adventurous, Berliner Kindl Weisse offers a unique sour taste that some people love.

These popular German beer brands offer a variety of flavors to suit different preferences, making them worth trying for any beer enthusiast.

The History of German Beer

German beer has a rich history that dates back centuries, with breweries and brewing traditions that have influenced beer culture worldwide.

Timeline of German beer history

German beer has a long and fascinating history. Here are some key moments:

  • 6th century: Monks start brewing beer in monasteries.
  • 1516: The German Beer Purity Law, or Reinheitsgebot, is established to regulate beer production.
  • 1800s: Industrialization leads to the rise of large-scale breweries.
  • Late 19th century: Lager becomes the dominant style in Germany.
  • 1887Munich's Oktoberfest introduces Märzen beer, brewed specially for the festival.
  • 20th century: World Wars and Prohibition challenge German beer production.
  • Post-WWII: German breweries rebuild and continue to innovate with new styles and flavors.

Influence on beer culture worldwide

German beer has had a significant influence on beer culture worldwide. Its rich history and tradition have shaped the way we enjoy and appreciate beer today. German brewing techniques, such as lagering and the use of specific ingredients like malted barley, hops, yeast, and water, have been adopted by breweries across the globe.

The Reinheitsgebot (German Beer Purity Law), which restricts the use of additives and preservatives in brewing, has also played a role in setting quality standards for beers around the world.

Additionally, German beer festivals like Oktoberfest have become iconic events celebrated globally, showcasing not only German beers but also their cultural significance. Whether you're sipping a classic Pilsner or exploring modern craft brews inspired by German styles, it's clear that German beer has made its mark on the global beer scene.

Understanding Traditional German Beers

Traditional German beers are a big part of the country's rich brewing history. There are many different styles to choose from, each with its own unique flavors and characteristics.

Some popular traditional German beer styles include Pilsner, Helles or Dunkles Lager, Weißbier (Wheat Beer), Bockbier, Märzen, and Schwarzbier.

Pilsner is a light and crisp beer that is known for its clean taste and golden color. It is one of the most popular beer styles in Germany and around the world. Helles or Dunkles Lager is another common style that comes in both light and dark variations.

These lagers have a malty flavor with hints of caramel.

Weißbier, also known as wheat beer, is brewed with a large portion of malted wheat. It has a fruity flavor profile with notes of banana and clove. Bockbier is a stronger beer that usually has higher alcohol content than other styles.

Märzen is traditionally brewed for Oktoberfest and has a malty sweetness.

Schwarzbier, on the other hand, is a dark lager that features roasted malt flavors without being overly heavy or bitter. Each style offers something unique for beer lovers to enjoy and explore when it comes to traditional German beers.

Overall: Traditional German beers come in various styles such as Pilsner, Helles or Dunkles Lager, Weißbier (Wheat Beer), Bockbier,Märzen,

and Schwarzbie offering different flavors like crispness,boldness,

- There are many different traditional German beer styles to choose from including Pilsner,HellesorDunkesLager. Weibser(WheatBeer),





-WeiBer,also known as wheat beer,has a fruity flavor profile with notes of banana and clove. Bockberisastongerbeerthatusuallyhashigher

alcoholcontentthanotherstyles. MärzenistraditionallybrewedforOktoberfestandhasamaltysweetness.

Exploring German Beer: Tips and Recommendations

Discover the best beer festivals, breweries to visit, and food pairings that will enhance your German beer experience. Cheers to a world of flavorful traditions! Read More.

Beer festivals and events in Germany

Germany is known for its vibrant beer culture, and there are many festivals and events that celebrate this beloved beverage. Here are some popular ones to check out:

  1. Oktoberfest: This world-famous festival is held in Munich and attracts millions of visitors each year. It's a 16-day extravaganza filled with traditional food, music, and of course, plenty of beer.
  2. Starkbierzeit: Translating to "strong beer time," this festival takes place during Lent in Munich and showcases the city's strong beers. It's a festive celebration with live music and delicious brews.
  3. Cannstatter Volksfest: This Stuttgart festival is often referred to as the "second Oktoberfest" and features a wide range of German beers, carnival rides, and traditional Bavarian costumes.
  4. Karneval der Kulturen: Berlin's multicultural carnival includes a craft beer market where you can sample local brews from both established breweries and up-and-coming craft beer makers.
  5. Kölsch Fest: Held in Cologne, this event celebrates the city's famous Kölsch beer style. You can enjoy live music, street parades, and taste different variations of Kölsch.
  6. Bergkirchweih: Known as Franconia's answer to Oktoberfest, this festival in Erlangen features over a dozen local breweries pouring their best beers in traditional beer gardens.

Beer tours and breweries to visit

Looking for an unforgettable beer experience in Germany? Here are some top beer tours and breweries to visit:

  1. Take a tour of the famous Paulaner Brewery in Munich, where you can learn about the brewing process and sample their traditional Bavarian beers.
  2. Visit the Schneider Weisse brewery in Kelheim to taste their renowned wheat beers, known for their rich flavors and smooth finish.
  3. Explore the vibrant craft beer scene in Berlin with a tour of BRLO Brewery, known for their innovative and unique brews.
  4. Head to Cologne and visit the Früh Kölsch brewery, where you can try their refreshing Kölsch beer straight from the source.
  5. Discover the historic city of Bamberg and visit Schlenkerla Brewery, famous for their smoky Rauchbier that's brewed using beechwood-smoked malt.

Food pairings with German beer

  • German - style sausages, such as bratwurst and weisswurst, pair well with a refreshing pilsner or helles lager.
  • Traditional German dishes like schnitzel and sauerkraut complement the malty flavors of dunkles lager and bockbier.
  • Spicy or smoked foods, like currywurst or grilled meats, can be balanced with a wheat beer or rauchbier.
  • For lighter fare, such as salads or seafood, a crisp kölsch or berliner weisse is a good choice.
  • Cheeses like camembert or gouda go great with a rich doppelbock or strong schwarzbier.
  • Sweet desserts like apple strudel or black forest cake pair nicely with the caramel notes of an amber Märzen.


In conclusion, this ultimate guide provides a comprehensive overview of German beer brands, from traditional styles to modern favorites. Whether you're a fan of pilsners or enjoy exploring craft beers, there's something for everyone in the rich and diverse world of German beer.

So grab a cold one and cheers to discovering the delicious flavors and fascinating history behind these iconic brews!


1. What are some popular traditional German beer styles?

Some popular traditional German beer styles include lagers, such as Pilsner and Helles, as well as wheat beers like Hefeweizen and Berliner Weisse.

2. Are there any non-alcoholic options available among German beer brands?

Yes, many German beer brands offer non-alcoholic or low-alcohol options for those who prefer not to consume alcohol.

3. Can I find German craft beers in the United States?

Yes, you can find German craft beers in the United States through specialty beer shops or online retailers that import a variety of international brews.

4. How do modern favorite German beer brands differ from traditional ones?

Modern favorite German beer brands often experiment with different ingredients and brewing techniques, resulting in unique flavors and styles that may deviate from the traditional recipes.