Speciality Portrait: Bavarian Beer



There are many reasons why Bavaria is THE land of beer:  Historical, geographical and those that one can taste and experience. The quality and range of flavours found in Bavarian beers are rooted in their homeland.

  • There are about 40 beer varieties in Bavaria. The Free State is especially renowned for its wheat beer specialities, the light Bavarian lager as well as its dark and festival beer specialities. In addition, there are many local specialities such as smoked beer or Zwickelbier (cellar beer).
  • Bavaria's modern history of beer stretches back 500 years: To the enactment of the Bavarian purity law in 1516.
  • Even today, Bavaria's brewers compose their unique variety of beers exclusively from water, malt, hops and barley.
  • Beer sommeliers are trained at an academy in Munich. They produce beer specialities in the restaurant and give advice to guests.
  • Currently in vogue: The preparation of hot and cold dishes using Bavarian beer as an ingredient.


    For nearly 500 years the Bavarian purity law has ensured that beer is of the purest quality. Beer was brewed in many monasteries at the time. Nuns and monks with a thirst for knowledge systematically refined the quality and variety of beers. Rooted in this tradition are Bavaria's breweries as well as leading research and academic institutions such as TU Muenchen-Weihenstephan or Doemens Akademie in Munich, where brewing scientists, master brewers and beer sommeliers are trained.

    Mother Nature lends a helping hand and supplies the Bavarian brewing industry with top ingredients. Refined hop varieties and top-quality brewing grain grow in front of the gates of the breweries. The Hallertau in the heart of Bavaria is the biggest contiguous hops producing region in the world. 500 years of indulgence accompanied by a pioneering spirit and high standards have produced a unique beer landscape and beer quality. Over 600 breweries, about 40 beer varieties and 4,000 brand specialities await discovery in the land of beer. Just under 100 breweries are allowed to label their traditional specialities as "Protected geographical indication".geographische Angabe" auszeichnen.


    Anyone who orders "a beer" in Old Bavaria wants a light beer (lager): A classic in the south, a genuine insider tip elsewhere. And a low-fermentation beer variety which wholeheartedly reflects the Old Bavarian character: honest, smooth and genuine. Export beers are closely related. In the 19th century they were brewed more strongly to make them durable for transportation to far-flung regions. Connoisseurs appreciate their smooth, full-bodied taste which is informed by a light malt aroma and rounded bitterness.

    Even wheat beer was once a purely Bavarian affair. The top-fermented speciality made of wheat and barley malt, gently hopped and truly zesty was primarily found in South Bavaria. It was only in 1965 that a renaissance got underway, and the wheat beer boom at the beginning of the '90s. Nowadays light and dark wheat beer, yeast beer and "Kristallweizen" are fashionable throughout Germany. Furthermore, the expertise in producing wheat beer is found in Bavaria:  Nine out of ten "wheat beers" come from Bavarian breweries. 

    In Franconia is home to specialities such as the unfiltered, non-bunged (therefore non-carbonated) Kellerbier (cellar beer) and the finely bitter Pils. The soft water of the Franconian low mountain range landscapes and the excellent aromatic hops from local hop gardens lend the Franconian Pils specialities their incomparable aroma.

    Not least, the Bock- and Doppelbockbiere (bock beers) leave their imprint on the land of beer that is Bavaria and its history of indulgence in food and drink. From Advent to the opening of the beer garden season, Christmas, Lenten and May bock beers inspire enthusiasm with at least 16 to 18 percent original wort and rich fullness of taste.


    Bavaria's modern history of beer stretches back about 500 years. Join us on this journey through time:
    The 16th century has dawned. Young Duke Wilhelm IV, "the Steadfast", together with his brother Ludwig X. reign supreme. The Duke is perturbed to hear that good citizens deceased because they drank adulterated beer. Contrary to all regulations, beer adulterators colour the brew with tar pitch or carbon black and add "witch plants" such as belladonna, thorn apple and henbane. Its intoxicating effect makes many beer drinkers walk on air, but kills others. Wilhelm decides to help Bavarians enjoy unclouded beer once and for all: On St. George's Day 1516, the meeting of the Bavarian Estates in Ingolstadt decrees that "only barley, hops and water may be used to make beer.“


    The restriction to barley as brewing grain was designed to protect wheat and rye as breadstuffs. (And let money flow into the coffers of the Estates! The Lower Bavarian estate overseer Degenberger paid a high price for the privilege of brewing "wheat beer". The wheat beer monopoly was later transferred to the house of Wittelsbach which defended it until the end of the 18th century). When it came to hops, Wilhelm has the well-being of beer drinkers in mind. Hop is a high-quality flavouring ingredient. It gives the beer its characteristic, subtle to intense bitter.  And hop also acts as a natural and light conservative: The medicinal plant wards off harmful germs, thereby rendering the beer durable.

    One ingredient was missing from the original version of the purity law: yeast. Although it was already known in the early 16th century that top and bottom-fermented yeasts were important for the brewing process, their precise effect had still not been fully explored. It was only mater that the role of yeast was its role acknowledged and the oldest valid food law of the world was supplemented accordingly.  Even date the purity law ensures that Bavarian beers do not contain any chemical additives or poor quality malt substitutes.


    No matter whether they are drunk or exported in the Free State:

    Bavarian beers are only allowed to be brewed from water, malt, hops and barley. But we have a bit to go first. This is because the grain is malted before brewing. The cereal grains are therefore dipped in water until they germinate, and then dried ("kilned"). The kiln temperature has a bearing on the colour of the malt: The greater the temperature, the darker the malts, and thus the beers. 

    The malt is ground, mixed with brewing water ("mashed") and gradually heated. In the process the starch of the brewing grain is converted into malt sugar. In the straining vat the brewer separate the liquid wort from the solid spent grains, the insoluble malt residue. The wort with its precious ingredients flows into the brewing copper. The brewer master now adds the hops. 120 to 150 grams of hops are enough to flavour a hectolitre of beer! 

    The brew is then boiled. The more the water evaporates, the higher the proportion of malt and hops dissolved in the water, the original wort. If the original wort content is perfect, the turbidity material is separated and the brew cooled. Lastly, the brewer adds the yeast. During fermentation it converts the malt sugar into alcohol and carbonate, transforming the beer into an alcoholic beverage in the process. The years of bottom-fermented beers (e.g. light, export, Pils) ferment at temperatures of 4 to 9 °C, top-fermented beers (e.g. for wheat beer) at temperatures of 15 to 20 °C. After fermentation the brewer draws off the yeast and lets the young beer mature for a few weeks in the storage cellar. The beer, filtered or cloudy, is then poured into bottles or vats and may finally tickle the palate.


    You did not misread: The enjoyment to be had from drinking beer is set to take on a new dimension. An increasing number of pubs, from the traditional pub to the top restaurant place their trust in a beer sommelier/sommeliere to nurture their beers and advise their guests. Much to the delight of connoisseurs who, with the advice of experts, gain a whole new experience of beer. Which varieties of beer and brand specialities go with the menu? How does one properly judge and taste beers with the greatest satisfaction? How do various beers differ, how do you describe their appearance, their aroma and their taste? In which glasses do the various beer specialities best release their aroma and taste (and remain zesty for as long as possible)?

    Sommeliers invite you to discover and experiment. From premium beer as an aperitif to selected beers to go with fish, asparagus, pasta with truffles right through to the exquisite beer speciality to accompany dessert.

    For the beer connoisseur a beer does not simply taste merely "good". Rather, it has a discreetly malt fragrance or a distinct yeast fragrance, fruity, wine-like or smoky.  And it tastes (at first sip, mid-taste and aftertaste) delicately spicy, roast aromatic, caramel-like, berry-like or sherry-like. And sheer enjoyment grows with each new beer experience.


    Three cheers for the crispy roast pork in beer sauce! A work of art that should not be allowed to be prepared without time, love and skill and the indulgence in which should be enjoyed with a lot of time, love and expertise... Yet Bavaria's young beer cuisine is capable of much more. Heavenly delicacies beguiles the senses. How about cod with malt flour crust on wheat beer vegetables, pike perch in Kristallweizen-Beurre-Blanc, beef filet on garlic puree with shallot beer sauce, fruit in beer pastry with beer Sabayon or bock beer tiramisu with rhubarb strawberry ragout? A look at the beer menu makes the mouth water and shows that: Dreams come true in the young Bavarian beer cuisine and (wheat bear) froth make the tempura pastry particularly tender and crispy.

    For instance, many Bavarian restaurants cultivate beer diversity not only in the cellar but also in the kitchen. And in cooking workshops amateur cooks learn how delicacies can be stewed, steamed, baked and cooked using beer specialities. The advice given by the beer sommelier: The beer which rounds off the taste as a cooking ingredient is also the perfect companion to its dish.  Anyone who serves different beers as part of the menu, should start with lean, light varieties and then proceed to full-bodied beers. Served in small glasses (0.1 to 0.2 l), the beers have a particularly stylish and fresh appearance and leave room for further tasters.