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The Reinheitsgebot ("purity decree") is a  regulation concerning the production of beer in Germany. In the original text, the only ingredients that could be used in the production of beer were water, barley, and hops. After its discovery, yeast became the fourth legal ingredient. For top-fermenting beers the use of sugar is also permitted.

There is a dispute as to where the Reinheitsgebot originated. Some Bavarians point out that the law originated in the city of Ingolstadt in the duchy of Bavaria on 23 April 1516, although first put forward in 1487, concerning standards for the sale and composition of beer. Thuringians point to a document which states the ingredients of beer as water, hops and barley only, and was written in 1434 in Weissensee (Thuringia). It was discovered in the medieval Runneburg near Erfurt in 1999. The Reinheitsgebot was the oldest food-quality regulation in the world.

Wheat beers

By German law, Weissbier brewed in Germany must be top-fermented. Specialized strains of yeast are used which produce overtones of banana and clove as by-products of fermentation. Weissbier is so called because it was, at the time of its inception,  paler in colour than Munich brown beer. It is well-known throughout  Germany, though better known as Weizen ("wheat") outside Bavaria. The  term Hefeweizen ("yeast wheat") refers to wheat beer in its traditional, unfiltered form. The term Kristallweizen (crystal wheat), or kristall weiss (crystal white beer), refers to a wheat beer that is filtered to remove the yeast from suspension. Additionally, the filtration  process removes wheat proteins present in the beer which contribute to  its cloudy appearance.


“Berliner Weiße”

A minor variety of wheat beer is represented by Berliner Weisse (Berlin  White), which is low in alcohol (2.5% to 3% ABV) and quite tart.  Although it can be imbibed by itself, enthusiasts often add sweetened  syrups of lemon, raspberry or woodruff herb into the beer.


Pale beers

  • Kölsch: pale, light-bodied, beer which can only legally be brewed in the Köln region. 11-12° Plato, 4.5-5% ABV.
  • Helles: a pale lager from Bavaria
  • Pils(ener): a pale lager with a light body and a more prominent hop character. By far the most popular style, with around two thirds of the market.
  • Alt: a dark amber, hoppy beer brewed around Düsseldorf
  • Export: a pale lager brewed around Dortmund that is fuller, maltier and less hoppy than Pilsner. Germany's most popular style in the 1950s and 1960s, it is  now becoming increasingly rare.
  • Bock: an amber, heavy-bodied, bitter-sweet lager.
  • Maibock: strong lager brewed in the Spring.
  • Eisbock: a freeze distilled variation of Doppelbock.
  • Märzen: medium body, malty lagers that come in pale, amber and dark  varieties. The type of beer traditionally  served at the Munich Oktoberfest.



Dark beers

  • Alt: A top-fermented, dark, lagered beer. It is brewed only in Dusseldorf  and in the Lower Rhine region. Its origins lie in Westphalia, and there  are still a few Altbier breweries in this region. Tastes range from  mildly bitter and "hoppy" to exceptionally bitter. About ten breweries  in the Dusseldorf region brew Altbier.
  • Schwarzbier: A bottom-fermented, dark lager beer with a full, roasty, chocolatey flavor.
  • Dunkles: Dark lager which comes in two main varieties: the sweetish, malty Munich style and the drier, hoppy Franconian style
  • Dunkler Bock: A strong, full-bodied lager darkened by high-coloured malts.
  • Rauchbier: Usually dark in color and smoky in taste from the use of smoked malt. A speciality of the Bamberg region.
  • Doppelbock: A very strong, very full-bodied lager darkened by high-coloured malts.
  • Weihnachtsbier or Festbier: Seasonally styled beers brewed in the  autumn for consumption at Christmas. These are dark beers.





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