When I first came to Germany and stood before the great walls of beer, I was pretty much clueless. All those names and labels just didn’t seem to make any sense.  Especially if you can’t speak German. I didn’t feel like asking people for help. That is why I will help you out starting with some beer basics. Showing you how to pick out the most popular German beer styles. 

wall of beer

Choosing a beer can be like going on a date. You need to make sure you have the right beer for the right occasion. Here are the 10 Top German Beer Styles

To learn more about the basics of beer check our Ale vs. Lager – What’s the difference?


Helles means light in German language. Characteristics of this beer are:

  • Pale Lager
  • Malty
  • Has a mild hop flavor
  • Golden color and smooth taste
  • Ideal for drinking outdoor and in Beer gardens


Pilsner is a much lighter pale beer. it has a little more hop flavor than most lagers. Drinking a pilsner is refreshing, and to the point. Can be really bubbly, full of action.

Pilsner is great for watching or playing your favorite sport. What Germans call Bierkastenrenner – Two Man Beer Crate Race. If you want some more ideas on outdoor drinking games for parties click here

two man carry beer crate


Lager tends to be pale like a Pilsner, but with much less hop flavor. Since its exported throughout all Germany, its brewed with more alcohol to make for the long trips.

Usually you can find it in a can. The price is not expensive. Perfect for backyard projects, or working in a garage.


Bock is German for Ram. A seasoned winter beer, Bock is strong and Malty. Can be heavy in the alcohol content. Do you want to know why they called it after a ram? Your head will feel like one if you drink too much of it.

Drinking Bock heats people up. That’s why its a perfect Winter Beer.

bock ram poster


Schwarz or Black Beer has roasted deep Malt Flavoring. The result is a very well-balanced beer. Fit for traditional, heavy German food like deep-fried carp, or pork Knuckle.

If you are really into the whole German experience, we invite you to check these awesome German restaurants in New York City.


Classic seasonal brew for special occasions like Oktoberfest. Often this beer is served in a big mug which is like ordering two beers at once.

waiter carries beer mugs

Fest Bier will keep you in the festive mood, and its great for quenching your thirst after doing hours of mandatory table dancing. You can also enjoy being part of Schunkeln, or swinging from side to side.


Kolsch is a lighter color pale ale, full of aroma and flavors with a good hop presence. For some reason, it is only allowed to be brewed using the water around the city of Cologne. There it is enjoyed during the carnival, where the entire city drinks nothing but Kolsch all day and night.

If you find yourself in that area during the carnival season, take a lot of our best tips for Cologne Carnival for beginners.

8. ALT

Alt has a darker, amber color, due to increase in hop bitterness. Experience taught us Alt is best to drink from a keg. Its hometown is Dusseldorf. You can find yourself drinking some nice Alt and gazing upon the famous Rhine river.

Dusseldorf skyline on the Rhene


Rauchbier, or smoked beer is growing in popularity. Especially in the Franken region, famous for its smoky roasted malts. It goes great with grilled or smoked food. Order it when you want to have a glass of something more special.

If you are craving some German barbecue right now, check these 10 Best German BBQ Recipes.


Weizen is German for wheat, and it has been rated as the most consumed beer of all. Prides of being full bodied, flavorful and aromatic. Weizen is always served in a long glass which you toast at the bottom.

tall beer glasses

Its most popular in Bavaria, a region is Germany where beer is still considered health food. Athletes often bathe themselves in it, as a reward to their hard earned victories.

There are other fascinating and over 5000 beers to start from. If you were to drink a different beer every day, it would take you the next 13 years to taste them all. I hope someone has taken that challenge. Sharing the findings of such a task would interest the whole beer community.

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