Beer is one of the oldest and most popular alcoholic drinks in the world but Bavarian people, in particular, have a special love story with their beers. That´s the reason why you will find some 40 types of Bavarian beer and an endless number of specialities and brands. Here is an overview of the main beers. As you read the following description and just before you come and visit Bavaria, we raise our virtual glasses to you and tell you “Prost !“
Bavarian light lager is called “Helles“. Helles is pale and malty, golden and smooth with a little touch of hop. This category covers the majority of beers brewed in the state. It´s the perfect type of beer to drink outside in a beer garden on those long tables under the trees while enjoying music and conversations.
The bockbier is a seasonnal winter beer. It is strong and very malty. In the cooler seasons of winter and early spring beer drinkers like to turn to the stronger beers . It has more alcohol content than a normal beer. A bock beer has an alcohol content of over 6 % or even 7% for a double bock. Some of the particularly strong bocks such as the ice bock can even go as high as over 10 %. In comparison a normal beer has a strength of around 4.5 to 5.0 %. The hunters love to drink this beer when they are out in the cold.
Bavarian Wheat beers : the Weizen
Wheat beer or “Weissbier” is really popular at the moment. people love it because it´s full-bodied, flavorful, very aromatic and thirst quenching. It´s served in a traditional long glass that you have to clink at the bottom with the other drinkers. It´s considered as health food in Bavaria and even if people drink it any time during the day, athletes love this beer to celebrate.
There are 2 big types of wheat beer :
- The light, crystal clear brews with no yeast clouding. It looks like a sparkling wine and people love to call it their champagne wheat beer.
- The yeast wheat beers are the most trendy at the moment. People believe that the presence of the yeast makes the beer particularly easy to digest. The cloudy look of the beer is seen as a sign of its purity and its naturalness.
A light wheat beer has 30 – 40% less alcohol and fewer calories than a normal beer and careful drinkers are sensitive to that fact.
On the same line, alcohol free wheat beers are increasing in popularity and are now available everywhere in Bavaria as they are getting more and more appreciated which is a sign of a more conscious way of drinking.
This beer is much lighter, very pale with much more hop flavor. It´s refreshing and bubbly. Some 2/3 of beer production in Bavaria is Pils. Bavaria’s brewers produce some 3.5 million hectolitres of Pils each year. The production of a Pils requires particularly soft water and a very light malt. Its very distinctive flavor however comes from the hops that are grown in Bavaria. As a matter of fact, the region of Hallertau in Bavaria is the world’s largest contiguous hop growing area. This beer is perfect to drink while watching sport or after sport.
Radler and Russ
The Radler is made of 50% pils or lager beer mixed with 50% sparkling lemonade. It´s a truly refreshing drink on a hot summer’s day for people who take care of their alcohol intake. The “Radler” was first created by one of Munich’s clever innkeeper Franz Kugler. He decided to do this blend when he was running out of beer.
The Russ is a variant of the radler and is made with 50 % Bavarian wheat beer mixed with 50 % clear lemonade.
The festbier is also a classic seasonal beer served for special occasions. It´s the Oktober fest beer served in a mass, a big mug that contains 1 liter ! It surely keeps the Bavarians in a festive mood !
The smoked beer or rauchbier in German is a speciality of the region of Bamberg. It is famous for the smoky roasted malts but it still abides to the Bavarian Purity Laws! Unlike most other beers nowadays, where the malt is dried industrially by hot air, the malt for the smoke beer is kiln-dried over an open fire. And where there’s fire, there’s smoke, so the malt takes in the taste of smoke and brings it into the beer. This type of beer is naturally a great friend next to the grill where the food gets also some smoke flavor. You can also try this special beer if you feel like being a beer expert for a day.