Lonely Planet's top five German beer destinations
Export: Traditionally brewed with a higher alcohol content to help it survive a long journey, this beer is closely associated today with Dortmund, and is often dry to slightly sweet.
Helles Lagerbier (pale lager): Helles (pale or light) refers to the colour, not the alcohol content, which is still around 4.6% to 5%. Brewing strongholds are Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and the Ruhr region. It has strong malt aromas and is slightly sweet.
Hofbräu: This is a brewery belonging to a royal court (Hof). For some time in Bavaria only a few nobles enjoyed the right to brew wheat beer.
Klosterbräu: This type of brewery belongs to a monastery.
Kölsch: By law, this top fermented beer can only be brewed in or around Cologne. It is about 4.8% alcohol, has a solid hop flavour and pale colour, and is served in small glasses (0.2L) called Stangen (literally "sticks").
Leichtbier (light beer): These low-alcohol beers are about 2% to 3.2% alcohol.
Leipziger Gose: An unusual beer, flavoured with salt and coriander, this contrives to have a stingingly refreshing taste, with some plummy overtones. Tart like Berliner Weisse, it is also often served with sweeteners, such as cherry (Kirsch) liqueur or the almond-flavoured Allasch.
Malzbier (malt beer): A sweet, aromatic, full-bodied beer, this is brewed mainly in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg.
Märzen (March): Full-bodied with strong malt aromas, this is traditionally brewed in March. Today, it is associated with the Oktoberfest.
Obergäriges Bier: Top fermented beer.
Pils (pilsener): This bottom-fermented full beer, with a pronounced hop flavour and a creamy head, has an alcohol content of around 4.8% and is served throughout Germany.
Rauchbier (smoke beer): This dark beer has a fresh, spicy or "smoky" flavour.
Schwarzbier (black beer): Slightly stronger, this dark, full beer has an alcohol content of about 4.8% to 5%. Full-bodied, it is fermented using roasted malt.
Untergäriges Bier: Bottom-fermented beer.
Weizenbier, Weissbier (wheat beer): Predominating in the south, especially in Bavaria, this is around 5.4% alcohol. A Hefeweizen has a stronger shot of yeast, whereas Kristallweizen is clearer with more fizz. These wheat beers are fruity and spicy, often recalling bananas and cloves. Decline offers of a slice of lemon as it ruins the head and - beer purists say - the flavour.