It’s pretty well known that the Germans make good beer and, if you wanted to open a beer shop, say 15 years ago, there’s a good chance it would have been heavily populated with German beers. However, with the current American influence on our brewing scene, particularly a preference for haze, it’s sometimes easy to forget just how good these beers are. With that in mind, we thought it was a good time to remind you all of how good the OG Kraft Beers are, with a round up of our top 5. What’s more, all of these make excellent summer drinking beers!
Wheat beers are probably the Marmite of the beer world. Some people love them and some people can’t stand them. However, this Helle Weiss – literally “Light Wheat” – can appeal to even the most ardent of wheat beer disdainers. Using only 66% wheat, compared to the usual 85-90%, this still retains the banana and clove flavours of a normal weissbier, but with a far brighter body. To borrow a vogue term from craft beer, this is a session wheat. Hopf is a small brewery in the scenic town of Miesbach, in the south of Germany. Brewing only wheat beers since 1921, these guys definitely know their stuff.
Hopf Helle Weiss, 5.3%
Based in Munich, Augustiner was established in 1328, giving them 788 years to get their recipes spot on (they definitely pass the 10,000 hours test!). And given that their Helles accounts for 70% of all lagers sold in Munich, it’s safe to say that they’re doing pretty well. They still use water drawn from local wells which, along with a long lagering period, help to give this beer a refreshing, light grassiness with a nice hoppy bite at the end and a crisp, clean finish. It’s light body means there’s nowhere to hide with this beer, any faults would become apparent (luckily there aren’t any), with it’s beauty inherent is in its simplicity. As our biggest selling German beer, it really does hit the spot.
Augustiner Helles, 5.2%
Kellerbier literally translates into “Cellar Beer” and it’s a style that was originally brewed and stored in wooden casks for 8 weeks and offered to customers directly from the cellar. Unfiltered and untreated, this has a bit more body and oomph to it than other lager style beers, which is also partially to do with the warm lagering period it goes through that takes away a bit of the crispness. With the Hacker half of their brewery being founded in 1417, before the Reinheitsgebot Purity Laws came into effect, and the land on which Oktoberfest is held being donated by the Pschorr half of the family, they’ve got a rich history beautifully tied to that of German beer.
Hacker-Pschorr Kellerbier, 5.5%
The Pauline friars first brewed this beer 375 years ago for a reason that is only going to enforce some German stereotypes. The name translates as “saviour” and when the friars went on lent, they would drinks these beers called dopplebocks that were often considered to be “liquid bread”. The higher ABV comes from increased malt used in the brewing which would, in turn, make the beer very filling. As a result, this beer is pretty malt heavy, with sweet caramel flavours and notes of scotch coming through. It’s probably good McDonald’s didn’t exists in the 1700s, because too many of these and the friars would be drunkenly searching for the closest one.
Paulaner Salvator, 5.9%
From Bamberg come Schlenkerla, a brewery best known for their smoked, or rauch, beers. The malt used is smoked over various different woods – beachwood for the marzen, oak for their weizen. These then give the beer a distinct flavour that comes across to a lot of people as bacon! Seriously, this beer has no bacon, but tastes of bacon. Honestly, it tastes of bacon. In fact, this smokiness is such a strong flavour that despite their lager having no smoked malt used in the brewing process, by simply passing through the same brewing equipment as the other rauch beers, it takes on these flavours, albeit in a lighter sense. The Americans may be making cool beer, but who doesn’t love bacon?!