Nobody knows beer better than the Germans. The drink is part of their history and culture, brewed by monks and civilians alike.
The German countryside is rich with family-run breweries, passed down through generations, each with its own rich history. The companies use ingredients from local farms to craft delicious and unique ales.
Many of the beers we love hail from Germany. Their distinct tastes and fermentation processes inform modern beer for both enthusiasts and casual drinkers. From dark beers to hoppy ales, there’s a German beer to please every taste.
We’ve researched the best German beers and curated this list of the best brews. These drinks reflect various brewing techniques, beer history, and beverage flavors.
One thing is consistent throughout: every beer is made with simple, quality ingredients.
The Schneider brewery is the oldest Bavarian wheat beer brewery.
The Schneider family took ownership of the company in 1928 and have been producing delicious ales from George I. Schneider’s original 1872 recipe ever since.
Schneider Weisse is the brewery’s crown jewel-it’s called “The Original” for a reason.
The brewery uses an open fermentation process. This method infuses beer with oxygen, giving it a better taste.
While more costly and elaborate than closed container fermentation, open fermentation creates a crisper, yeastier flavor.
The beer ferments in bottles, keeping it fresher.
Schneider Weisse has over 60 international fanclubs. The beer earns this global love by using the best produce available. The family-run brewery purchases directly from local farms, ensuring the highest quality:
- Wheat malt
- Barley malt
Schneider makes a variety of Weisse beers, including:
- Leichte Weisse: 3.3% abv
- Nelson Sauvin 2017: 7.3% abv
- Aventinus Eisbock: 12% abv
- Helle Weisse: 4.9% abv
- Kristall: 5.3% abv
- Alkoholfrei: less than .5% abv
- Festweisse: 6.2% abv
- Hopfenweisse: 8.2% abv
- Aventinus: 8.2% abv
- Love Beer: 4.9% abv
- Original: 5.4% abv
Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier
The Weissbier-or wheat beer is Weihenstephaner’s signature brew.
Full-bodied, fruity, spicy, and clove-scented, the beverage began life as its current incarnation (and nomenclature) in 1921.
Monks began brewing beer in Weihenstephaner in 1040. The monastery brewed beer until 1803 when the State took over the building and the brewing.
Weihenstephaner is the world’s oldest brewery and has taught many their trade.
Multiple samples are taken and approved by experts in the field: the Bavarian Control and Testing Centre at Weihenstephan and Chairs for Brewing Technology of the Technical University of Munich both test the beer.
The Hefe Weissbier has won multiple global awards. The brewery creates all of its beers using the highest quality, carefully regulated, and assessed ingredients, including:
Weihenstephaner’s beers include:
- Wheat Beer: 5.4% abv
- Dark wheat beer: 5.3% abv
- Light Wheat Beer: 2.6% abv
- Non Alcoholic Wheat Beer: less than .5% abv
- Kristallweissbier: 5.4% abv
- Vitus: 7.7% abv
- Original Helles: 5.1% abv
- Non-Alcoholic Original Helles: less than .5% abv
- Pils: 5.1% abv
- Tradition Bayrisch Dunkel: 5.2% abv
- Korbinian: 7.4% abv
- 1516 Kellerbier: 5.6% abv
- Festbier: 5.8% abv
- Winterfestbier: 5.8% abv
Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier
Schlenkerala, one of the few smoke beer breweries, sits beneath Bamberg Cathedral. The brews date back to 1405.
Schlenkerla’s brewing process adheres to the Bavarian Purity Law of 1516. This rule dictates that brewers only use barley, water, and hops in their beer.
Schlenkerla uses a process called kilning to prepare their malt. This drying process adds a smoky taste to the beer. Schlenkerla is one of two breweries worldwide to use this method.
Smoked beer should be kept in a cool and dark location. The brew is best enjoyed at between seven and eight degrees celsius, and the head should compose one-quarter of the glass.
Schlenkerla’s beer variety includes:
- Marzen: 5.1% abv
- Wheat: 5.2% abv
- Urbock: 6.5% abv
- Lentbeer: 5.9% abv
- Oak Smoke: 8.0% abv
- Helles Marzen: 4.5%
- Hansla: .9% abv
- Lager: 4.3% abv
Schlernkerla’s unique beer has won far too many awards to list.
Paulaner Salvator Doppel Bock
Paulaner Salvator‘s Doppel Bock claims to be “the father of all strong beers.” “Doppel” means double in German, and doppelbocks are basically bock beers on steroids.
The first documented mention of the brewery was February 26, 1634. Civilian brewers sent a letter complaining about the monk’s success to the Munich city council.
Paulaner Salvator continues the tradition of Monk-brewed beer, this time the Paulaner order.
The brewery uses a 375-year-old recipe and the bottom fermentation process. Steeped in history, Paulaner Salvator follows Bavarian Beer Purity Law. The recipe uses pure, 10,000-year-old water.
Paulaner Salvator makes a variety of beers, including:
- Weissbier: 5.5% abv
- Weissbier 0,0%: 0% abv
- Weissbier Dunkel: 5.3% abv
- Munchner Hell:4.9% abv
- Oktoberfest Bier: 6.0% abv
- Salvator: 7.9% abv
The brewery’s production process is environmentally friendly. All of Paulaner Salvator’s beers are made from simple, high-quality ingredients:
- Hallertauer traditional hops
- Pilsner malt
- Munich malt
Spaten Oktoberfest is brewed by Spaten-Franziskaner Brau.
Spaten began brewing beer in the 14th century and is one of only six breweries officially permitted to brew Oktoberfestbier. It is also one of six original Munich Oktoberfest breweries.
The Marzen-style beer is hoppier than most Oktoberfest beers and has 5.9% alcohol by volume.
Spaten’s other beers include:
- Alkoholfrei: .5% abv,
- Alkoholfrei Holunder: 0% abv
- Alkoholfrei Zitrone: 0% abv
- Hefe-Weisse Dunkel: 5% abv
- Helles: 4.8% abv, Kellerbier: 5.2% abv
- Natur Russ: 2.5% abv
- Premium Weissbier: 5% abv
- Weissbier Kristallklar: 5% abv
- Weissbier Royal: 6% abv
- Spaten Alkoholfrei: 0% abv
- Spaten Dunkel: 5.5% abv
- Spaten light: 0% abv
- Spaten premium bock: 6.5% abv
- Spaten Munchner Hell: 5.2% abv
- Spaten Munich Club-Weissbier: 0% abv
- Spaten Optimator: 7.6% abv
- Spaten Pils: 5% abv
The beer’s ingredients are:
- Hops extract
Berliner Weisse is a style of beer, not a brand. As the name suggests, the Berliner Weisse is the product of 300 years of tinkering in Berlin.
The brew’s precise origins are unknown. Some credit the French for bringing the beer to Berlin, but there is no absolute confirmation.
What is, however, certain is that brewers refined the recipe between the 17th and 20th centuries. Beer makers created the modern incarnation in the 19th century.
Much like true champagne is only made in the champagne region of France, true Berliners are only made within Berlin, and even then, only by two breweries: Berliner Kindl and Schultheiss.
However, other breweries create variations on the Berliner Weisse.
The beer tastes sour with intense fruit flavors. It is wheat heavy, with between 3 and 5 percent alcohol by volume.
Berliner Weisse is made of:
- German pilsner malt
- German wheat malt
- Hallertauer hops
Some of the best Berliner Weisse style beers available are:
- Professor Fritz Briem’s 1809 Berliner Style Weisse
- Westbrook Brewing Co.’s Key Lime Pi
- Evil Twin Brewing: Nomader Weisse
- Mikkeller: Ich Bin Berliner Weisse Raspberry
- Night Shift Brewing: Ever Weisse
Kolsh must be made in Cologne, using the oldest brewing methodology. Gaffel is a family-owned brewery started in 1908. The brewery adheres to the German Purity Law of 1516
Gaffel’s family recipe has inspired several fan clubs. The company uses a top fermentation process that relies on warm weather yeast called Saccharomy cerevisiae
The Kolsch is a dry, refreshing beer with 4.8 percent alcohol by volume.
The brew’s ingredients are:
- Hops extract
Kostritzer Schwarzbier originated in 1543 in Central Germany.
The beer, produced by one of Germany’s oldest breweries, has shipped to over 50 countries since 2013.
The bottom-fermented beverage gets its unique taste by roasting the barley for the malt.
Schwarz means black in German, and schwarzbier is a darkly colored brew
The malt and fruit-forward taste has earned some illustrious fans. Goethe, Otto von Bismarck and Angela Merkel have all enjoyed Kostritzer Schwarzbier.
With a strong presence of hops, the schwarzbier has a bitter through taste that lasts and 4.8% alcohol by volume. The Scwarzbier is made of:
- Hops extract
Other Kostritzer beers include:
- Kellerbier: 5.4% abv
- Kostritzer Meisterwerke Pale Ale: 7.0% abv
Kostritzer is a subdivision of Bitburger Braugruppe International Brands, which also includes:
- Kornig Pilsner
- Benediktiner Beers
Radeberger pilsner was created in the town of Radeberger in 1872 by five amateur beer brewers.
Raderberger uses a bottom fermentation process, allowing 28 days for the popular Pilsner to ferment fully.
The brewery uses locally sourced ingredients from Saxony, Thuringia, and other surrounding areas.
The mildly bitter and full-bodied lager is brewed exclusively in Radeberger, Germany.
The recipe uses soft water drawn from a well in Karswald Forest and barley with a protein content of 9.5 and 11.5 percent. The 4.8% abv pilsner’s ingredients are:
- Hops(mix of bitter and aromatic)
Radeberger also makes the Pilsner Zwickel slightly sweeter due to pre-filtration bottling. These are the only two beers Radeberger makes. The pilsners are available in cans, bottles, and kegs.
Weltenburger Kloster Barock Dunkel
Benedictine monks began brewing their beer at Weltenburger in 1050.
This makes the establishment the second oldest surviving monastery brewery. Dunkel means dark in German, an indicator of the beer’s rich brown color.
The medium-bodied, extremely smooth brew has racked up global accolades. This Dunkel has won:
- The gold medal at the World Beer Cup three times
- The gold at the European Beer Star three times
- Over 50 gold medals overall
Every carefully, in-house inspected ingredient comes from partnerships with local farmers.
The bottom-fermented brew should be consumed at eight degrees celsius and has 4.7 percent alcohol by volume.
The Dunkel is made with:
- Pearl hops
- Barley malt
- Caramel malt
- Colored malt
Other Weltenburger Kloster beers include:
- Anno 1050: 5.5% abv
- Pils: 4.9% abv
- Weisse Alkoholfrei: less than .5% abv
- Asam Bock: 7.3% abv
- Hell: 4.9% abv
- Kellerbier: 5.0% abv
- Spezial Festbier: 5.6% abv
- Helle Weisse: 5.4% abv
- Dunkles Radler: 2.3% abv
- Leichte Weisse: 2.9% abv