Types of Bavarian beer

There are some 40 types of beer and over 4,000 brands of Bavarian beer.
Here is an overview of the principal beers:

Bavarian Lager/light beer and export

Lager and light beer are so-called "full beers". This category covers the majority of beers brewed in the state and includes all beers with an original gravity measure of between 11 and 16%. This measure denotes the percentage of ingredients from malt which mainly comprises malt sugar but also the malt related minerals and vitamins, in the beer before the fermentation process begins. Bavarian light lager is known as "Helles".

Bavarian Bockbier

These range form a “bock“ beer brewed at Christmas through lent brewed strong beers to the bock brewed for May day. In the cooler seasons of winter and spring beer drinkers like to turn to the stronger beers produced by the southern German vats. For example a bock beer has an alcohol content of over 6 % and a double bock over 7%. Some of the particularly strong bocks such as the ice bock can even go as high as over 10 %. In comparison a normal beer has a strength of around 4.5 to 5.0 %. The name "Starkbier" or "Bockbier" denotes that it has an original gravity of at least 16%. A double bock goes even further as it must have an original gravity of over 18%.

Bavarian Wheat beers

Wheat beer that is often also called "Weissbier" is really trendy at the moment. It is a traditional top-fermented Bavarian beer and is available in a range of brews:

There are light, crystal clear brews i.e. clear beers with no yeast clouding. The beer has a high carbon dioxide content and when served in the traditional tall glasses the wealth of bubbles rising through the drink give it an appearance that is not dissimilar to sparkling wine giving rise to its popular name of champagne wheat beer.

The most popular type of wheat beer at the moment are the yeast wheat beers – both light and dark. Consumers believe that the presence of the yeast makes the beer particularly easy to digest. The cloudy look of the beer is seen as a sign of its purity and its naturalness.
The surge of light beers being consumed today has also had its impact on the wheat beers. A light wheat beer has 30 - 40% less alcohol and fewer calories than a normal beer.
Proof of the popularity of light wheat beers lies in the statistics: some 1.5% of all wheat beers drunk are light ones. This is a far higher percentage than for most other beers.
Alcohol free wheat beers are increasing in popularity and are available now everywhere in Bavaria.

Bavarian Pils

Some 2/3 of beer production in Bavaria is Pils. These do display however strong regional differences. Bavaria’s brewers produce some 3.5 million hectolitres of Pils each year.
The production of a Pils requires particularly soft water and a very light malt. Its very distinctive flavour however comes from the hops. The world’s largest contiguous hop growing area is in the Hallertau in Bavaria.

Radler (Shandy)

50% pils or lager mixed with 50% lemonade; a truly refreshing drink on a hot summer’s day. The "Radler" was first created by one of Munich’s renowned gastronomes Franz Xaver Kugler.


A "Russ" is a shandy but with 50% Bavarian wheat beer and 50% clear lemonade.

Smoke beer of Bamberg

Smoking beer ? Is that legal? It is in Bamberg. And it even adheres to the Bavarian Purity Laws! This speciality beer obtains its taste due to the roasted malt. Unlike most other beers nowadays, where the malt is dried industrially by hot air, the malt for the smoke beer is kiln-dried over an open fire. And where there’s fire, there’s smoke, so the malt takes in the taste of smoke and brings it into the beer. 

Bavarian beer type "Starkbier" or "Bockbier" image.enlarge
Bavarian beer type "Starkbier" or "Bockbier" © Bayerischer Brauerbund e.V.