That Germany is a great beer country is indisputable. This is the country of Pilsners and Kellerbiers, Kolschs and Weissebiers. It’s where beer is served in foaming steins at tables of thirsty drinkers. The cornerstone of brewing is the Reinheitsgebot, a Purity law that celebrates its 500th birthday in 2016. It dictated that only water, barley and hops could be used - yeast was added when we knew what it was. But far from being restrictive, the variety of German beers is astonishing and occasionally bizarre. Here are the most important...

Four Essential Beers

Mittenwalder Edel Marzen / 5.3%

A fantastic example of the Marzen/Oktoberfest style.

Schlenkerla Rauchbier / 5.1%

A legendary dark and aromatic German beer with a rich and powerful smokiness.

Schlosser Alt / 4.8%

The quintessential Dusseldorf Altbier: a well-balanced, bitter (yet malty) German ale.

 Sion Kolsch / 4.8%

Sion Kolsch is light and crisp with a slight herbal bitterness and sweet grainy pale malt.


Adrian Tierney-Jones - The World Beer Awards chair on Germany's defining contribution to brewing

What makes German beer so special?

History, heritage, a seriousness towards brewing, beer as part of the community, no Anglo-Saxon guilt - it's beer as part of your day-to-day life.

What are the defining characteristics of German beer?

There are so many a Helles with its softness, a Pilsner with its lemony sharpness, a Rauchbeir, a Bock, a Doppelbock, an Icebock, a Kellerbier, an Alt, a Kolsch, a North German Pils, a Bavarian Weizen, a Berliner Weisee - German beer might be categorised as just lager, but the best German beers have a crispness, a soaring chorus of refreshment as well as a depth of flavour, but you have to hunt them out.

What are your favourite styles of German beers, this time of year?

If you've ever been to Oktoberfest then festbiers are a necessity in the autumn; they are smooth, some slightly fiery in their alcoholic strength, nutty, full-bodied, but remain refreshing. Or go to beautiful Bamberg, which is the home of Rauchbier, one of the best beer styles in the world. It's a beer that has the nose of an old wooden box that once held smoked fish, but this smokiness is deftly counterbalanced by a malt sweetness.

Then, of course, Bocks and Doppelbocks are pretty immense for this time of the year. Or you might want a Weizenbock, a strong wheat beer - but whatever you do, take pride in these beers. They are worth respecting.