A while back the BBC posted a feature titled “50 things to eat before you die” and I thought at the time that this would make a good topic for beer. So in the spirit of adventure and living life to the fullest, etc. etc., I’m coming up with the 50 beers to drink before you die, in ten weekly installments listing five beers each (in no particular order, other than whatever theme I fit them into).
This week’s theme is German beers. Like the Belgian beer theme a couple of weeks ago, you simply can’t consider the world of beer complete without acknowledging the huge influence Germany has had.
Now, I have to admit that for this bunch, I cheated a little bit. I wanted to cover several of the broad styles of German beers (other styles are touched upon elsewhere in this series), but my knowledge of actual German-from-Germany beers is on the sparse side. So, I relied exclusively on BeerAdvocate and pulled this week’s recommended beers from their top-rated list in those categories.
A Hefeweizen in the true style: cloudy, yeasty, fruity, spicy with the flavor of banana and cloves. The beer weighs in at 5.4% alcohol, a nice middle ground for a crisp, refreshing wheat beer. The Weihenstephan Brewery is the oldest brewery in the world still in operation today—so I think it goes without saying that they know what they’re doing.
BeerAdvocate score: 91/100, 100% approval.
Kölsch originates from the city of Köln (Cologne) and is characterized by being very light, low in hops and rather dry. It was definitely one of the German styles that I wanted to cover, and while Reissdorf isn’t at the top of the BeerAdvocate list, it had the most reviews which makes it, I think, the most qualified.
At 4.8% alcohol, this light, golden German ale is the perfect session beer.
BeerAdvocate score: 84/100, 94% approval.
Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen
Rauchbier (smoke beer) is another quintessential German beer style that had to be covered. The Aecht Schlenkerla brewery produces several varieties of Rauchbier, so I went with the one that seemed (to me) to best highlight the style: the Märzen variety. Their own description:
Our dark, bottom fermented speciality since 1678, brewed with Original Schlenkerla Smokemalt from our maltings and tapped according to old tradition directly from the gravity-fed oakwood cask.
Rauchbier is definitely an acquired taste, and certainly not everyone will like it. But everyone should at least try it once.
BeerAdvocate score: 87/100, 95% approval.
Schwarzbier means simply “black beer.” They are lighter in body than porters and stouts, nicely hopped, and are often winter-seasonal beers. Not much more to be said; I picked Köstritzer because it’s near the BeerAdvocate top and many of the review comments highly praised it. Go find some.
BeerAdvocate score: 86/100, 97% approval.
A Weizenbock by any other name is, well… a wheat bock. More of a wheat Doppelbock, actually. Another style that is quintessentially German, and Aventinus is at the top of the list. Nice and strong at 8.2% alcohol, the brewer’s description of this beer is:
Dark-ruby, almost black-colored and streaked with fine top-fermenting yeast, this beer has a compact and persistent head. This is a very intense wheat doppelbock with a complex spicy chocolate-like arome with a hint of banana and raisins. On the palate, you experience a soft touch and on the tongue it is very rich and complex, though fresh with a hint of caramel. It finishes in a rich soft and lightly bitter impression.
If you want to treat yourself to a great beer, this is the beer to do it.
BeerAdvocate score: 91/100, 99% approval.