Germans take their drink very seriously, as they have one of the highest per capita alcohol consumption rates in the world. Germany regulates the production of their beer under a law called Reinheitsgebot, meaning “purity order,” but more easily translated as German Beer Purity Law. Under this law, only four ingredients are allowed in the production of an authentic German beer: water, barley, hops and yeast. Any beer containing additional ingredients, such as preservatives or sugar, is encouraged to market the product under a different name. However, there are no legal ramifications for violating this law, as it is more of a tradition (or a matter of German pride) than anything else. Listed are a few types of German beer and their variations:
Weizenbier/Weißbier – A typical wheat or “white” beer. Shown below are two such examples. The beer on the left is a Kristallweiss (crystal white) and the beer on the right is a Hefeweiss (yeast white). The difference in opaqueness between the two is due to the filtering process in the crystal beer, where the yeast is filtered completely out after the brewing. The beer on the right presents a thicker flavor, while the beer on the left is considered crisper.
Helles – The light beers. This is the largest and most widely encompassing group of beer. This includes the pale lagers, pilsners, and most bocks. They are characterized by an amber complexion and a sweet taste. We have a texas counterpart, or doppelganger, in the Shiner Bock brand. Incidentally, Shiner (Spoetzl Brewery) carries many of the varieties of the beer that I’ve listed here. They may be listed under different names (in example, Shiner Old-Time is an Altbier), but many are modeled after traditional German recipes and are very comparable in quality. For y’all 21 folk, Shiner offers tours two to four times daily. Taking a tour would both give you a chance to see the oldest brewery in Texas and provide you with an opportunity to learn more of the German influence in Texas culture. Oh, and beer.