Best German Beer: 11 German Beer Styles to Try

Abbey Miller
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by Abbey Miller

Germany is known for many things, and what contributes to their popularity is high-quality beer. Their beer culture is world-famous and is an integral part of the German experience.

Some of the oldest breweries and beer brands come from this country. Most German brewers still adhere to the German Beer Purity Law, which obliges them to follow certain beer-making standards and procedures. That’s why they produce some of the highest-quality alcoholic drinks in the world.

Best German Beer

Discover eleven types of German beer that prove they are experts in this field.

11 German Beer Styles

  • Lager
  • German Pilsner
  • Kölsch
  • Altbier
  • Weissbier
  • Dunkel
  • Wheat Ales
  • Rauchbier
  • Bock
  • Schwarzbier
  • Gose

1. Lager


This beer style is among the most popular in the world. It’s known for its clean taste and light appearance, which result from the slow fermentation of bottom-fermenting yeasts at lower temperatures. That’s how these beers take on a taste of malts and hops and come in a variety of brews.

Lagers can be pale or dark. The first one is the style of most commercial beers around the world, also known as Helles.

Which Brand to Try

A typical representative of this beer style is Augustiner Brau Edelstoff, coming from Munich’s oldest independent brewery. With its mild taste and golden color, its well-balanced flavor profile starts with fresh bread and citrus aromas and ends with sweet malts.

The dark lager features lighter roasted malt, giving the beer a dark, almost black color. Depending on its shade and strength, this lager has sub-versions like Dunkell or Schwarzbier, with Weltenburger Kloster Barock Dunkel as a must-try. It’s a sweet beer with nutty, chocolate, and caramel notes from Munich malt.

2. German Pilsner

German Pilsner

Pilsner beers are the most sought-after beer style around the world, thanks to German immigrants who handed the recipe to American brewers more than 200 years ago. Brewed with barley malt, these light beers feature floral hops with a hint of spicy bitterness. Due to their clean flavor with mild bitterness, these drinks go well with spicy food.

Which Brand to Try

The title of the best pilsner goes to Bitburger Premium Pilsner, which hasn’t changed its original recipe for more than two centuries. Although its flavor profile is complex, with bready malts and floral aromas, Bitburger Premium Pilsner is light and the best option to try if you want to enjoy the pure taste of real German beer.

3. Kölsch

Kolsch Beer

It’s an authentic style of beer originally brewed in the German city of Cologne and nowhere else. The basis of this beer is ale yeast that gives it lightly floral and fruity hops. These are the most prominent flavors since this beer is brewed at warm temperatures and left to rest at cooler temperatures.

Which Brand to Try

Reissdorf Kölsch is one of the best German beers with a long tradition that follows German Purity Law on its quality and appearance. This pale-yellow beer hugs your palate with a yeasty flavor of freshly baked bread and ends with a mellow malt finish and light floral aromas.

4. Altbier


This style is a mixture of Lager and Ale, meaning its fermentation starts at high temperatures with top-fermenting yeasts, and later, it sits at lower temperatures. The final result is a rich, malty beer with mild fruity notes and a copper color. It’s a complex drink with 5% ABV but easy on your palate.

Which Brand to Try

Altbier drinks follow an old brewing process, and there are still bars in Dusseldorf that make this brew. This is the only place where you can try the original album since you can’t find this beer in stores, only in an altered version. If you want to try it, maybe it’s about time to visit Dusseldorf.

5. Weissbier


Mostly made of wheat and with only a portion of barley, this style features light, sweet, and refreshing beers. A trace of bitterness comes from fermenting the brew in bottles, which is how they get a light and creamy foam.

Which Brand to Try

Weihenstephan Hefe Weissbier is a wheat beer you should try. It’s the pioneer among German beer brands, as it comes from the oldest brewery in the world and has been on the market for almost a millennia. This wheat beer has a full-bodied, fruity taste for a unique drinking experience for your taste buds.

A variation of the Weissbier is the Berliner Weisse, a tangy beer that gives you an interesting twist with delicate aromas of cloves, sweet wheat, and bananas, light yellow in color and a bit sour in taste. You can find this beer in a craft form in any brewery’s beer garden in Berlin.

6. Dunkel


Dunkel is a synonym for black beer, but its appearance can range from copperish to dark brown. This beer is a fine example of a smooth, subtly sweet brew that falls easily on your mouth and palate. It features nutty and toffee notes, with a hop character that can be more prominent or subtle.

Which Brand to Try

Kloster Kreuzberg Dunkel has a smooth balance of bitterness and a malty taste. It’s softly carbonated, with a medium to light body filled with bready, moldy, and a bit of fruit flavors that stay on your palate. It’s in the middle range of alcohol content for beer, with 5.4% ABV, allowing the rich flavor of this Dunkel to pop.

7. Wheat Ales

Wheat Ales

Wheat beers in this category contain more than 50% wheat ale and a small amount of dark barley malt. They have a cloudy appearance, mostly because they’re unfiltered. These are light and refreshing beers and a perfect choice when you need a cool drink during hot summer days.

Which Brand to Try

Schneider Weisse Hefeweizen is a sweet wheat brew with playful notes of bananas or bubblegums. Still, none of these flavors overpower the others. You can feel the full flavor profile of mixed caramel, fruity, and lightly spicy notes. It’s an excellent choice for pairing with light summer desserts.

8. Rauchbier


Rauchbiers are a sub-type of dark lagers, and its literal translation is “smoked malt.” The name comes from an old brewing procedure where malt was smoked over an open flame. Some German brewers have kept that tradition, keeping this beer unique among many other German beers.

Which Brand to Try

Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier is a popular beer among those who prefer a fuller body and stronger aromas. With a base of dark roasted malt and fermentation in copper vessels, this beer gets a distinct smoky flavor reminiscent of smoked meat. So, it makes perfect sense to pair this Rauchbier with smoked brisket or ribs.

9. Bock


As a strong beer with up to 7.9% ABV, Bock has a very intense flavor that might not suit everyone. But beer lovers appreciate this bottom-fermenting lager due to its intense yet not too overwhelming flavor. You taste malt, but there’s a hint of creamy and toasty notes that add to the flavor profile of this beer.

For those who want more, Doppelbocks bring twice as much flavor. Still, higher alcohol content doesn’t mean a harsh aftertaste. Most doppelbocks have a stronger toasty aroma with subtle hits of chocolate and toffee.

Which Brand to Try

Speaking of the best German beers, Paulaner Salvator deserves a place on the list. It’s a combination of Munich and Pilsner malt made by the same recipe for almost 400 years. Spicy hops combined with toasty and floral notes result in a bold beer that’s a delicacy on its own. The legend says Munich monks drank Paulaner Salvator as a “liquid bread” during fasting periods.

10. Schwarzbier


Another dark lager on the list featuring roasted malt, Schwarzbier is a drink for avid beer drinkers. It gets a dark color from dark malt, which develops a bitter-sweet aroma when toasted. This style might remind you of Dunkel, but it’s darker, drier, and lighter.

Which Brand to Try

Unlike most dark beers, Köstritzer Schwarzbier doesn’t have a high ABV, which makes it lighter. But its body is rounded, meaning there’s a mouthful of taste that gently enfolds your palate. It’s so light you can even feel those delicate undernotes of nuts and chocolate.

11. Gose


This is a German-style beer made by classic brewing but with a unique character due to salt and coriander added during fermentation. Gose has a tart and a bit crisp flavor, with fruity and salty aromas that intertwine.

Which Brand to Try

Commercial Gose beers aren’t easy to find because they aren’t as popular as they used to be before WWII. But Leipziger Gose saves this beer style from oblivion. This beer is a jewel among beer lovers, as it has a quite unique aroma that reminds of lemon zest, sea salt, and herbs. Maybe that’s why it pairs so well with seafood.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Alcohol Is in German Beers?

The ABV for German beers ranges from 4.5% up to 10%. Pale lagers like Kölsch and Pilsner have about 5% of alcoholic content. For a strong lager, the average ABV is about 7.5-8%. Eisbock, or “iced bock,” has the highest ABV, which can go up to 14% due to removed water content during brewing.

How Should You Store German Beers?

Pale lagers like Bitburger Premium Pilsner or Köstritzer Schwarzbier can be stored for up to six months if unopened. Beers with higher ABV, like Paulaner Salvator, can stay on a shelf for up to a year. They might lose some carbonation, but the full taste will still be there. 

How Are the Best German Beers Served?

It’s a rule of thumb that the beer should be served cold. The optimal serving temperature depends on the beer type. For example, lighter beers should be served right from the fridge at an optimal temperature of 38 F. Lagers with fuller taste don’t have to be chilled but slightly cooled to 50 to 55 F (so-called cellar temperature).


Choosing the best beers among German beers isn’t an easy task. There are a variety of beer styles for everyone’s palate, from light, pale ales, and wheat beers from the oldest brewery in the world to dark lagers and full-taste brews.

Some of these have reached world popularity, while some are still hidden gems of German provinces that beer lovers can’t wait to discover. But now you have a great starting point to start experimenting with German brews.

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Abbey Miller
Abbey Miller
Abbey grew up in a family with an appreciation for great beers, fine wines, and nuanced Scotch whiskeys. It's no surprise that she studied Hospitality Management and is now a professional working on the world-famous Las Vegas Strip.
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