The 6 Most Popular German-Style Beers
German-style beers are some of the most popular beer styles in the world. They’re known for being clean, crisp and highly drinkable with an emphasis on craftsmanship and ingenuity. In modern times, these beers have seen benchmark adaptions and alterations, but the true-to-style brews from German tradition have never faded in popularity or quality.
Many of the most popular German styles like Kolsch, Pilsner and Marzen are styles we see in the United States at nearly every craft brewery. The high demand sees no shortage of options in the industry and we can’t complain about that – each style is worth trying at least once and is likely to become one of your go-to’s. Let’s dive into the six most popular German-style beers.
Hefeweizens are one of the most popular styles of craft beer in the world, not to mention it’s a German beer style. Hefeweizens, translated to “yeast wheat,” are straw to amber in color and are brewed with at least 50% wheat–otherwise, they can’t be considered a hefeweizen. They’re cloudy in appearance with high carbonation and fruity esters; think banana, clove, and sometimes bubblegum. Hefeweizen is highly dependent on yeast and wheat for its flavor profile, hence the name. They have low bitterness at 10-15 IBU and a drinkable 4.9-5.6% ABV.
One of the top rated Hefeweizen’s is located right here in North Carolina from The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery in Charlotte. Ask for a Hornet’s Nest if you get the chance to visit.
The German Kolsch is an approachable beer style that’s somewhere between a lager and an ale. They’re brewed with ale yeast, aged cold, and sometimes use lager yeast for bottle or cold conditioning. This means they’re light and crisp yet flavorful and balanced. They have a dry body with a pillowy white head and medium bitterness. The Kolsch is one of the most popular styles of German beer because of its loyal fanbase and ability to satisfy new and existing beer drinkers. The Kolsch has an ABV range of 4.8%-5.3% and an IBU range of 22-30.
German-style Marzens are the beers of Oktoberfest and are one of the most popular beer styles in the world. Marzen and Oktoberfest-style beers are different – Marzens are lighter and more carbonated, while Oktoberfests have more body and heightened malt flavor and aroma. Marzens offer notes of biscuit and lightly toasted bread with a clean hop profile and balanced bitterness similar to other traditional lager styles. German-style Marzens have a 5.1%-6.0% ABV range and an 18-25 IBU range.
If you live in America you’ve heard of this German beer style: the Pilsner, or Pilsener. It’s perhaps best known around these parts for the domestication of the style in brand names like Bud Light, Coors Light and Miller Lite. However, this style is much more than a light lager. The German-style pilsner is bright, crisp, light, and a little sweet. This style utilizes late additions of noble hops during boiling to lend earthy and spicy hop aromas that we perceive when we drink them. These popular German beers have medium to high bitterness at 25-50 IBUs and a 4.6-5.3% ABV range.
Helles lagers have a pronounced malt aroma. They’re often described as “bready” or “biscuity” and with taste suggestive of lightly toasted malted barley. They’re dry with the drinkability of a lager but with more malt notes. Helles translates to “pale in color,” which is the name given to this style because of its clear golden hue. It has a fuller body than a pilsner or light lager with spicy noble hop flavors and slight bitterness. The yeast strains used in these beers may lead you to interpret subtle sulfur notes. German-style Helles have an ABV range of 4.8-5.6% and 18-25 IBUs.
The German-style Bock is another famous and popular German beer style. Traditional bocks are all-malt beers with prominent malt character and aromas of toasted or nutty malt. They are not sweet but contain very low to no bitterness. German bocks are a balance of the sweet and toasted flavors brought on by the malt bill. They’re dark brown with a soft body and low carbonation. German-style bocks range in ABV from 6.3-7.5% and have between 20-30 IBUs.
So there you have it. Six popular German beer styles to add to your list. Did we miss any? Make sure to tell us your favorite styles or specific German Beers in the comments below!