Different Beer Types And Beer Varieties Explained

We explain you the different beer sorts and beer types. Beer is produced by the alcoholic fermentation of water, malt, hops and yeast. One differentiates with the beer types between bottom-fermented and up-fermented beers.

Beer in Germany is brewed according to the purity law. According to the regulation of 1516, beer may only be made from barley malt, hops, yeast and water. Beer in the narrower sense is an alcoholic and carbonated beverage. In a broader sense, beer refers to any alcoholic beverage produced on the basis of fermented starch without the use of a distillation process.

Beer genera:

  • Beer genera are the valid tax division used in Germany, which is fixed only to the original wort content. The original wort indicates the extract content of the wort. Fermentation produces about 1/3 of alcohol and 1/3 of carbonic acid; 1/3 remains as unfermented residual extract.
  • Single beers with original wort of less than 7% (0.5 to 3% alcohol by volume)
  • Treats with original wort from 7% to less than 11% (3 to 4.5% alcohol by volume)
  • Whole beers with original wort from 11% to less than 16% (alcohol content of about 4.5 to 5.5% by volume)
  • Strong beers with original wort of 16% (more than 6% alcohol by volume)

Beer types:

  • Types of beer are distinguished by the fermentation temperature and the characteristics of the yeast strains into under-fermented and top-fermented beers.
  • Top-fermented beers: These are fermented for about 3 days at 15 to 20 degrees Celsius. The yeast collects at the end of the fermentation on the surface of the beer. The fermentation is very fast, the beer does not last long and needs to be consumed quickly. Classic examples are Altbier, Kölsch, Berliner Weisse and Weizenbier, as well as most English beers.
  • Bottom-fermented beers: Here the yeast settles on the bottom of the fermentation tank after the fermentation process. In the main fermentation, the beer is fermented for 8 days at temperatures of 4 to 9 degrees Celsius. These beers require a certain maturation time and are also longer lasting than the top-fermented beers. With the invention of the chiller then began the triumphal procession of under-fermented beer. The classic varieties here are Pils, Helles and Export.

Beer varieties: 

Alcohol-free beer

Alcohol-free may call itself a beer, if it contains an alcohol content of 0,5% and less. Meanwhile, non-alcoholic beers are offered with 0.0 percent.


Upper-fermented dark amber-colored beer with about 4.8% alcohol, which is drunk mainly in Dusseldorf and the Lower Rhine. The name comes from the old top-fermented brewing style. Old is drunk from small glasses (0.2 l) and can be, depending on the recipe, hop-bitter to malty-sweet.

Berlin White

A top-fermented, yeast-clouded and long-stored beer, which is mainly known in and around Berlin. The taste of Berliner Weisse is sour, refreshing especially in summer and is often served in trophies with a shot of raspberry or woodruff syrup. The Berliner Weisse has about 2.8% alcohol and is brewed from barley and wheat malt.

Bock Beer

The Bock beer is a full-bodied strong beer with about 7% alcohol. In contrast to other beers, bock beer also contains yeast to increase the original wort content. In the north, light brewed bock beer is drunk, in southern Germany the darker bock beers are preferred. Bock beers, such as the May-bock and the double-bock, are brewed on special occasions.

Broyhan Beer

Cord Broyhan brewed in 1526 in Hanover as the first Broyhan beer of this named after him. It contains as spice only hops and light malt. The light brown, top-fermented beer became an export hit of the city of Hannover.

Steam Beer

Upper fermented only slightly hopped barley beers, which were brewed with the help of steam engines, called steam beer. The name was also given by the brewers, because the fermentation takes place mainly on the surface and the bursting carbon dioxide bubbles of the ceiling look like steam.

Dinkel Beer

This variety uses spelled malt instead of barley malt. Spelled beer is a top-fermented beer. The alcohol content of spelled beer is about 4.5%.

Diet Pils

In the production of diet pils almost all carbohydrates are converted to alcohol in a special brewing process. The beer is low in calories, but very alcoholic. Target group of the diet pill are diabetics.

Double Bock

Doppel Bock is a bock beer, which is brewed with a wort content of over 18%. The alcohol content is between 5 and 12%. These usually have the suffix “-ator” in their name. Doppelbock was usually brewed and served only around Lent.

Ice Beer

Upper or lower fermented beer, which is stored extremely cold. The characteristic is very soft, very mild and slim with a subtle flower.

Ice Bock

Bock beer with about 7% alcohol content, which was extracted by freezing water. Thus, a much higher alcohol content can be achieved.


Bottom-fermented beer with malty taste and less hops than Pilsener beers. It contains 5 to 5.5% alcohol.


Gose is a top-fermented, light wheat beer. Originally from Goslar in the Harz. While formerly the Gose beer was created by spontaneous fermentation, today only the top-fermented brewing method is used for beer production. In addition to the alcoholic, there is also a bacterial lactic acid fermentation, which leads to the typical sour taste.


Kölsch is a bright top-fermented full beer with approx. 4.8% alcohol, which may only be brewed in a certain environment around the city of Cologne. It is drunk from 0.2 l glasses, so-called bars.


Crawling is the name given to the foam that forms on the surface after the yeast has been added. Kräusenbier is unfiltered and thus yeast cloudy.

Lager Beer

Bottom-fermented, plain full beer of light yellow color with 4.6 to 5.6% alcohol. In Germany beers are labeled, which have less than 12.5% original wort and do not belong to the heavily hopped Pilsener brewing method. The distribution area is mostly in Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Switzerland and Austria. In the English-speaking world, lager beer is more common.

Light Beer

Low calorie beer, where the alcohol and energy content is forty percent lower than the Pils. During the fermentation, either the formation of alcohol is slowed-down or the alcohol is withdrawn after the fermentation process.

Märzen Beer

A full beer with 4-5% alcohol. The Märzen comes from the old custom of brewing the bottom-fermented beer at the end of the winter (March) so that it can be stored until late summer. The mild malty taste comes from the use of a special malt. The classic version of the Märzen is golden yellow, but there are also dark marches. The term is used nowadays, especially in southern Germany and Austria for slightly stronger lager beer.

Malt Beer / Malted Drink

The dark malt beer is nearly alcohol-free with 0.1 to 0.4%. Strictly speaking, malt beer is not actually a beer, as it preserves its sweetish taste through the addition of invert sugar and caramel. Malt drinks are whole beers, which are brewed top-fermented with an original wort of usually eleven to twelve percent.


The genesis of the depending on the type of brewing weak to strong alcoholic beer from Brunswick dates back to the late Middle Ages. Beer used to be a major export hit into the world. In the present time until 2008 the Braunschweiger Mumme was only available in cans as a non-alcoholic version. Now for the first time in about 200 years, an alcoholic variant is produced again.


An East German beer specialty that is less tart than Pilsner beer and less malty than export.


Pils beer is probably the best known and most widely used type of beer. It was brewed for the first time in 1842 under the considerable participation of the Bavarian brew-master Josef Groll in the Bohemian Pilsen. Pilsener beers are bottom-fermented whole beers. Hop-rich, slender and sparkling in the taste with fine foam, it is drunk from tulips or goblets. It has an alcohol content of just under 5%. Beers produced according to “Pilsner Art Of Brewing” today make up the majority of beers produced and sold in Germany.

Smoked Beer

In this Bamberg specialty, the malt is dried over a wood fire during production. This process gives the beer a smoky taste.

Rey Beer

Rye malt is used instead of barley malt. Rye beer is a top-fermented beer. It is mostly produced by small breweries in the Palatinate and Bavaria.

Dark Beer

The black beer is a sparkling, bottom-fermented beer with about 4.8 to 5% alcohol. In terms of taste, black beers are inconsistent. Black beer usually gets its dark color through the use of dark brewing salt or roasted malt. The original wort content is at least 11%.

Maritime Beer

For the so-called Schiffer meal on the second Friday of February, only this beer is brewed in Bremens’ Ratskeller. At the feast it is drunk to Bremer lignite with Pinkel. The main ingredient of the beverage is malt.

Special Beer

The special beers are usually hard beers, which are brewed for certain occasions, such as Munich Oktoberfest and Cannstatter Wasen.

Stone Beer

Natural stones are heated for the stone beer over the open fire and dipped into the mash. The malt sugar caramelizes on the stones, which are added only for a secondary fermentation. The beer has a smoky taste and is especially common in Baden-Württemberg and Franconia.

Wheat Beer

Wheat beer, which in South Bavaria and Austria is also called wheat beer, is a top-fermented beer and must be at least half made from wheat malt. A distinction is made between yeast wheat that is not filtered, and crystal wheat, which is filtered and thus freed from the yeast particles. The alcohol content in both is about 5 to 5.5%. The serving traditionally takes place in particularly tall and slender glasses.

Wheat Bock

A top-fermented bock beer, which is brewed using wheat malt. Depending on the use of the malt, you get dark or light wheat buck.

What is your favorite type or variety of beer? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment box below – cheers.

Recent Content

link to Where To Get Gluten-Free Beer

Where To Get Gluten-Free Beer

If brewed according to the German Purity Law, beer consists of four ingredients: barley malt, hops, yeast and water. Beer production stands and falls with the processing of grain. But what does that mean for people who suffer from gluten intolerance (celiac disease)? Do you have to do without the tasty barley juice? Or is […]