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Germany is home to a berth of traditions, like family-centric concepts and age old cuisines, both of which have been imbued into the birth of beer. It's been a common stereotype to assert the Irish as major and knowledgeable beer aficionados, yet it's actually an old German delicatessen crafted by monks long ago. The variety of types, of flavors, tastes, and even mixed characters have all allowed German beer itself to evolve. It's almost impossible for one person to try every single German beer, which is enough to prove that you simply won't run out of options.
That fact alone is certainly not enough to prove why German beer is king. Many fans and non-fans have claimed that tastes, textures, and characters themselves have been hampered by the passing of the Reinheitsgebot in roughly 1516. The rule, law or regulation (however one wants to see it) mandates the ingredients of only water, hops, and malt in brewing beers. I think otherwise. The idea of using only three beer ingredients goes back to the idea of Germany's cultural ideologies rooted in family and cuisine. These prolonged, intertwined concepts, on the other hand, are but only two small steps into these 10 reasons why German beer is the best beer. Here's my suggestion: don't knock it 'till you try it...
This beer purity law that passed in 1516, "Reinheitsgebot," allows only for hops, barley, yeast, and water to be used in the production of beer. In other words, fermentation methods have and will continue to be the prime focus behind German brewing. So, you might think this limits the blends of German beers, but there's literally tons of different tastes. Ready your pallet for this one.
Since Germany is home to over 40 sorts of malt, 200 yeast strains, and 100 different hops, it's almost impossible to try them all. The German Brewers Federation has calculated that an individual would have to drink a different German beer a day for 15 years to even remotely come close, making the unlimited degree of tastes as among reasons why German beer is the best beer. Plus these blends make great gifts for your favorite beer lovers.
Similarly, while the purity law does limit the production methods of German beer, Germans are fond of blending beers with certain mixers. These can be considered as beer cocktails. Mixers can vary, oftentimes simply boosting alcohol levels, or adding a unique tone to the beverage, from strange, to otherwise exhilarating. This level of variety to the blend and characters of the brew is an additional highpoint among reasons why German beer is the best beer.
Beer-lemonades are actually the most popular blends in Germany, such as the pre-made mixes of Radler, Alster, Russe, or Panasch (depending on your location). There are also a variety of cola mixers, including many different additives to choose from. What we consider today as the "shandy" may very well have been adopted first by these German beer mixers during the 1850s.
Origin of the Pilsner
Plzen may be a Czech town in western Bohemia, but it's rooted in the 19th century Austro-Hungarian Empire, which had been made up of mostly German speaking individuals. This very city built an extremely large brewery in the 1840s, aided by a Bavarian brewer by the name of Josef Groll. His main task? Crafting a new type of beer—one now known as the Pilsner, which is one of the best dark beers for fall.
Like a plague, the pilsner beer type took Europe by storm and steadily became an instant classic of a beverage. While it may be a Czech company, interestingly Pilsner Urquell beer is a popular brand with German name meaning; "The original source of Pilsner." This adamant testament written into the name of early brewing history is one of the many reasons why German beer is the best beer.
If unlimited tastes and blends, plus it's history in creating the Pilsner, have not been enough to convince you, why stop there? Why not go further and look back into the very origin of beer itself? It's one of my favorite reasons why German beer is the best beer: sources point to a Weihenstephan monastery as the first brewer location, officially founded in 1040 Bavaria, yet had been operational for several years prior.
From thereafter, a whole plethora of monastery breweries blossomed forth. No more than a decade later, the Weltenburg brewery was up and running near the Danube river. Weihenstephan was renamed in 1921 to the Bavarian State Brewery Weihenstephan. Interestingly enough, it still sits there today; the oldest brewery still provides some of the best tasting crafts, as entries in the World Beer Awards have been primarily well-received and rewarded almost every year.
Weizen versus Pilsner
What often is lacking in rivals of German beer are these traditional traits in methods of brewing. As I mentioned before, the endless variety of hops and different yeasts are alone enough to make heads spin. But, when added to the two different methods of fermentation, there are even more options to choose from. That makes both Weizen and Pilsner two reasons why German beer is the best beer.
Pilsners are made through the process of bottom-fermentation, while darker ales and the Hefeweizen are made by top-fermentation. It's a simple variation in the way German beers are produced, and it adds countless more beer possibilities.
Generally pictured as just a swath of drunken people roaming the streets of every major city, Oktoberfest is often among the main reasons why German beer is the best beer. Obviously, this is the key element of their tradition, holding value and a long lasting commitment to simply beer itself. Besides obnoxious fans and festival goers, Oktoberfest is the most elegant example of how beer can bring a community of people together through a combination of tradition and culture.
All the many different kinds of Oktoberfest beers add some subtle twist, a variation on character and taste that makes every new year more anticipatory and enjoyable. Despite it being in frigid cold October, no less, Oktoberfest is an experience all are welcome to celebrate, and most definitely should. This Hofbrau is one of the best Oktoberfest beers, so make sure you party in style.
They Banned Coffee Over it
Based on an economic policy by Prussia's Frederick the Great, revealed in a 1777 manifesto, coffee came under direct attack by the king. Apparently it promoted foreign imports over national agricultural interests. King Frederick still had to adopt something to take coffee's place, which inevitably led to "beer soup" as the natural stand-in. His message:
"It is disgusting to notice the increase in the quantity of coffee used by my subjects... My people must drink beer. His Majesty was brought up on beer, and so were his ancestors."
With that, coffee became a black market necessity. Coffee was so beloved in Germany—even over beer itself—that it was smuggled in coffins, beer barrels, and coal sacks. Frederick's economic policy, based solely on beer, may not have been the most moving of reasons why German beer is the best beer, but it merely paints the picture of how idolized this mere beverage was.
Kolsch and Altbier
From the same geographically setting, these two different beer types (Kolsch, from Cologne, and Altbier, from Dusseldorf) have been consistent rivals for many years. Stemming from polar opposite ideologies, Cologne being more laid back and Dusseldorf more upscale, these two beers have also become worlds apart. This adds literal flavor to their beef, and is still to this day rooted in the differences in both areas.
Altbier is a dark beer and tends to be an ale, while Kolsch is a light lager. A Cologne brewery named Fruh mocks Altbier with consistent advertisements, like "Before it gets old." As much as these two rival beers and areas like to tussle, it appears there's reason behind it at all, since the two beers taste virtually the same. I like the fun of it, the drama they both create, it's a perfect example of reasons why German beer is the best beer. Literal, traditional character.
Namibia Breweries Limited
History again proves to be in favor of the reasons why German beer is the best beer: Namibia Breweries Limited. You may find yourself both skeptical, if not a tad bit confused to see an African country as a German brewer, but it's due to the fact that Namibia was a German colony between the years of 1884 and 1919.
Surprisingly, German beer culture thrives in Namibia, wherein even Oktoberfest is held within the capital of Windhoek. This seemingly unimportant, yet highly diverse piece of information pertaining to German beer culture is only a small piece of this massive identity in traditional beer.
As you can see, there are many reasons why German beer is the best beer, but only one drives the fact home. Without German brewing, yeast used in beer production may not have ever been discovered. Most monasteries brewed near bakeries, which led to them utilizing stew barley and hops in boiling water.
This unintended mix of yeasts in the beer was assumed to be a miracle for years, up until the end of the 19th century. This was when yeast became a scientific necessity in beer production. In those times, monks abstained from bread during Lent. These monks instead turned to "Flussiges Brot," or "liquid bread."