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Die Deutschen und ihre Biere – The Germans and their beers Posted by on Jul 2, 2010 in Food

Germany is often associated with its beer, or should I say beers? There are so many verschiedene Sorten (different sorts) and Marken (brands) that you actually need a Dimplom (diploma) to be able to distinguish them all. By the way, I am only joking. There is not something like a beer-diploma! So, versteht mich bitte nicht falsch (please, don’t get me wrong). I am not a Biertrinker (beer drinker) because I just do not like the Geschmack (taste) of it. Therefore, it is always difficult for me to realize which sort of beer people prefer to drink.

When you are going to a Kneipe (pub) you will recognize that people either bestellen (order) a particular sort of beer, e.g. a Weizenbier (wheat beer) and a Pils or Pilsener (a bitter pale beer with a strong hop flavour), or a particular brand, e.g. a Radeberger, a Krombacher, a Warsteiner, a Hasseröder, a Schöfferhofer, etc. So, what is the difference between all those beers?

Basically, a beer is characterized by the way in which it is brewed, regardless of the brand name: untergärig (bottom-femented) or obergärig (top-femented). Bottom-femented means that the Hefe (yeast) is added to a mixture of Stammwürze (original wort) and water at a temperature between 4 and 9 degrees Celsius. Top-femented means that the yeast is added to this mix at a temperature between 15 and 20 degrees Celsius.  Generally, the yeast is responsible for the Gärung (fementation), as it changes the sugar or maltose of the original wort into Alkohol (alcohol), Kohlensäure (carbonic acid), and Wärme (heat). The two different forms of fementation affect mainly the taste of the beer. Top-femented beers, like wheat beer, taste fairly mild and süffig (palatable), whereas bottom-femented beers, like Pilsener, are rather bitter. Nowadays, the most popular beers are indeed the bottom-femented Pils or Pilsener and the top-femented Weizenbier. Thus, when people order a Weizenbier or Pilsener, they just let the waiter pick which particular sort of beer they would like to drink.

There are also many other sorts of beer, e.g. Altbier, Export, Kölsch, and Lager. But to explain the differnce between those would go beyond the scope of this post. As far as I have understood, you only have to remember three things: What kind of grain is used (Gerste – barley, Weizen – wheat, and/or Roggen – rye); which kind of yeast you add, and at what temperature the yeast is added. If you like to learn more about German beer, please, leave a comment.

Below you will find two commercials, which I like very much. I will also provide the spoken content and English translation in written language, so that you can easily follow what is said in the commercials.

Meisterhaft, unnachahmlich, einzigartig und von einer Eleganz, die man jeden Tag neu genießen kann. Radeberger Pilsener: schon immer besonders.

(Masterly, inimitable, unique and full of elegance which you can enjoy every day anew. Radeberger Pilsener: always been special.)

Der pure Pilsgeschmack. Grenzenlos frisch. (The pure taste of Pils. Immeasurably fresh.)

verschiedene Sorten – different sorts (die Sorte – sort)

Marken – brands (die Marke – brand)

(das) Dimplom – diploma

both informal: versteht mich bitte nicht falsch (pl.) / versteh mich bitte nicht falsch (sgl.) – please, don’t get me wrong

(der) Biertrinker – beer drinker

(der) Geschmack – taste

(die) Kneipe – pub

bestellen – order

(das) Weizenbier – wheat beer

untergärig – bottom-femented

obergärig – top-femented

(die) Hefe – yeast

(die) Stammwürze – original wort

(der) Alkohol – alcohol

(die) Kohlensäure – carbonic acid

(die) Wärme – heat

(die) Gärung – fementation

süffig – palatable

(die) Gerste – barley

(das) Weizen – wheat

(der) Roggen – rye

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About the Author:Sandra Rösner

Hello everybody! I studied English and American Studies, Communication Science, and Political Science at the University of Greifswald. Since I have been learning English as a second language myself for almost 20 years now I know how difficult it is to learn a language other than your native one. Thus, I am always willing to keep my explanations about German grammar comprehensible and short. Further, I am inclined to encourage you to speak German in every situation. Regards, Sandra


  1. Neil Lucock:

    Am bestern ist die Berlinerweisse. Das ist echt flussiges brot!

  2. Aaron:


    I have a native German friend who told me this.

    das Diplom – diploma I’m curious where you got that?

    DAS Weizen (bier) – wheat beer, aber:
    DER Weizen – wheat (if you are referring to the grains)

  3. sanroesner:

    Hi Aaron,

    Your German friend is right. I am sorry, my fault: “Dimplom” is a typo. The correct word is of course: Diplom!
    Yes, sometimes articles can change the meaning of a word. So, you say “DAS Weizen” when referring to beer and “DER Weizen” when referring to grain.

  4. Schwimmflosse:

    Yes! I do want to know more about biers. Specifically, it seems I have inherited a taste for all things German, and though I am restricted from some of my favorites (sodium), I try to keep my favorites on hand. I recently found how wonderful – and different from American – German vinegar is. I have 2 that are imported from Bremen, I believe, and flavored with herbs – SO good on all my veggies, greens and salads. Many years ago I fell in love with a dark, dark, beer that a local small-town tavern had on tap just certain times of the year. Ever since, beers just taste tinny and thin to me. The only one I think tastes even close is Guiness, especially the Extra Stout. But I would much rather drink one closer tomy roots and not Irish. Please tell me which German beer might come closest to this dark, dark but smooth brew. I am trying to get closer to my roots all around – just now studying German, so I believe the blog will help me a lot. My ancestors came from the Alsace-Lorraine region and our name is Housholder. Danke!!

  5. sanroesner:

    Hi Schwimmflosse,

    I am not sure but maybe you mean “Schwarzbier” (black beer). The most popular Schwarzbier is Köstritzer. I hope that helps.

  6. Connie Housholder McKinney:

    Thank you – danke – so much for the helpful posts. I am searching on line for places to get 2 different brand names of my [hopeully] beloved dark, blackish bier! cj

  7. Craig:

    Ich hab’ schon Radeberger getrunken. Ich hab’ auch Bamberger Rauchbier überlebt.

    Mein allerliebstes Bier ist Erdinger Weißbier.

    The reason why it is das Weizen for a beer is that it is a shortened form of a compound noun: das Weizenbier. Bier is neuter, i.e. “das”. The gender of a compound noun always refers to the last noun in the compound.

  8. Dessie Loukas:

    Fantastic site, where did you find that information in this specific posting? I’m pleased I discovered it however, ill be checking back again soon to see what other articles you may have.

    • sanroesner:

      @Dessie Loukas Hi Dessie,

      Thank you. I am happy to hear that. There is a lot on the net. Just enter “German beer” in a search engine and I am sure you will find a lot of information. Good luck.

      Bis bald,


  9. Андрей:

    Ich mag selbst aus Russland und auch sehr stark das Bier! Nur blieb bei uns des normalen Bieres jenes schon nicht! Die Produzenten des Bieres machen solchen Unsinn was es, jenes sogar zu trinken nicht wünschenswert ist!!

  10. Xiao Decardo:

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  12. western soapberry:

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