There is no better way for you to explore Germany and its regions than eating German food and drinking German beers and wines. Something special is available for every occasion and palate – from authentic locally sourced fresh food to high-end Michelin-star cuisine. Traditional German cooking varies in menus and style from one city and region to the next and is great value for money. Its diversity is a result of Germany’s history and colorful landscapes, each region having its own traditional food restaurants and delicious homegrown recipes.
Background numbers open windows of gastronomic taste, opportunity and excitement for you - 13 wine regions, 1,350 breweries and 6,000 beers, 1,500 varieties of sausage, 500 types of bread, 500 great tasting mineral waters and over 290 Michelin-starred restaurants. Add to this an amazing range of eateries, restaurants and beer gardens together with thousands of regional wine, food and beer festivals where you can converse and engage with the locals. You will be spoilt for choice and you will never wish to leave!
Germans enjoy eating rich, hearty and wholesome meals. Pork, beef and veal are popular in traditional German cooking and seasoned in many ways.
‘Schnitzels’ are thin, boneless cutlets of pork or veal coated in breadcrumbs, served in umpteen variations in most local eateries. Game is also eaten at certain times of year, often as ‘Ragout’. Potatoes are a staple food and each region has its favorite ways of preparing them. ‘Knödel’ or potato dumplings are served with many meals, especially in the north. In the south, ‘Spätzle’ (soft egg noodles) and pasta are more common. Fermented cabbage or Sauerkraut is probiotic-rich, full of vitamins and often served with Wurst (sausage) – of which there are 1,500 regional varieties. The most popular include ‘Bratwurst’, ‘Currywurst’ and ‘Weisswurst’. Steaming ‘Eintopf’ soups and stews are common, especially enjoyed after skiing, walking, sailing or cycling excursions.
Locally produced cheese, cereals and dairy products also play important roles in traditional German cuisine. Throughout the country, desserts made with apples, red forest fruits and plums are very tempting. Mouthwatering cakes such as ‘Apfelstrudel’, chocolate or Black Forest cherry cake are served with afternoon coffee or tea, while beer, wine, apple juice and / or mineral water accompany most dishes as a beverage.
„Eating and drinking hold the body and soul together.“
An old German proverb
Germany is paradise on Earth for all beer lovers. Germans are proud of some 6,000 beers brewed in over 1,350 breweries, half of these in Bavaria alone – in other words a different beer for every day for over 16 years!
This amazing variety of beers is quite unique, given the fact that the majority of German beers are brewed according to the ‘Reinheitsgebot’ or beer purity law tradition from 1516, which only permits the use of water, malt, hops and yeast in the brewing process. Freshly poured German beers provide cool refreshment on hot Summer days and are best enjoyed with ‘Pretzeln’ and grilled sausages in one of the many beer gardens. The Munich Oktoberfest, with its specially brewed festival beers, is the largest public fair in the world with over six million visitors annually. Beer has also found its way into German cuisine, with gourmet chefs seeking suitable beer combinations for dishes, often including select beers themselves in their culinary creations. Guests come to Germany every year to visit the homes of German beers sampling and enjoying their favorite brews at beer festivals and during beer tastings in breweries and in bars.
No other land on the planet has such a dense network of breweries including major global brand names and hundreds of small privately owned family-run and monastic breweries with local brewing customs stretching back centuries. And no other country has such an unbroken brewing tradition. This not only ensures the retention of the ‘Reinheitsgebot’ tradition (German Beer Purity Law) but also the maintenance of regional quality and special variety. Diverse brewers’ compositions of water, malt, hops and yeast are guarantors of the broad range and wonderful variety of German beers, along with different brewing and fermentation processes. Germans love their beer, you will, too!
Lager (storeroom or warehouse) is a type of beer that is conditioned at low temperatures, normally at the brewery. It may be pale, golden, amber or dark. Although one of the most defining features of lager is its maturation in cold storage, it is also distinguished by the use of special yeast. A pale Lager usually has fewer hops than an Export beer.
Export beer is a soft-textured pale lager beer influenced by the Pilsener Lager, which in former times could be exported beyond city limits. Export beers are traditionally brewed in Dortmund. As the name suggests, export beers were brewed for export to foreign countries and were brewed stronger in order to overcome long-distance transport. The increased original wort and alcohol levels ensured stability and durability.
‘Weizenbier’ and ‘Weissbier’ are the standard German names for wheat beers characterized by a fruity-spicy flavor. 80% of ‘Weizen’ beers originate in Bavaria but they are also very popular throughout Germany. ‘Weizenbier’ is available as filtered ‘Kristall’ / crystal clear or as unfiltered ‘Hefeweizen’ (yeast ‘Weizen’).
‘Pilsener’ or ‘Pils’ is a refreshing pale lager with a light body and a more prominent hop character named after the Czech Pilsner bottom-fermented brewing process, invented by a Bavarian master brewer in the Czech town of Pilsen. ‘Pils’ is the most consumed type of beer in Germany and is available in many variations, also as Export, Lager and ‘Spezial’.
A craft brewery is a brewery that produces small amounts of beer typically much smaller than the large-scale breweries, and is independently owned. German craft breweries lay particular emphasis on quality, flavor and brewing techniques, with old recipes being resurrected, re-adapted and new beers being created. Craft beers are increasingly popular and more widely available in Germany with new innovative breweries sprouting up all over the country. Traditional breweries are also experimenting with their own craft beer creations. One of the first such breweries in Germany was established in Berlin in the mid-1990s. New festivals and events such as the ‘Die Bierinsel’, the ‘Berlin Beer Week’ and the ‘Braufest Berlin’ along with traditional beer festivals are testimony to the growing interest in diverse beer creations and in a greater variety of beer types.
‘Kölsch’ is a pale, light-bodied, slightly bitter top-fermented beer which, when brewed in Germany, can only legally be brewed in Cologne where it has been brewed since the 12th century. It is traditionally served in thin 0.2 liter glasses to help preserve its smooth taste and frothy foam.
‘Altbier’ is a top-fermented, lager beer brewed according to an ‘old’ tradition since the 13th century in Düsseldorf which made it possible to ferment and mature beer at higher temperatures. In former times this was very important especially in the warm Summer months when stability and durability could not be guaranteed. Alt tastes range from mildly bitter and hoppy to very bitter.
‘Berliner Weisse’ is a top-fermented beer brewed in a special Berlin manner. It tastes bitter fresh and has low levels of alcohol. It is popular in Summertime and often served with a drop of either ‘Waldmeister’ (woodruff) or raspberry syrup.
Alcohol-free beers are on the rise in Germany and are available in several variations from alcohol-free lager to alcohol-free ‘Weizen’ beer. They are isotonic, nutritious and very popular with cyclists, walkers and other sportspeople.
German beer is traditionally brewed according to the ‘Reinheitsgebot’ (German Beer Purity Law) which permits only water, hops, malt and yeast as brewing ingredients and specifies beers not exclusively using barley-malt, such as ‘Weizen’ or wheat beers must be top-fermented. The German ‘Reinheitsgebot’ is a living tradition and a guarantee of brewing quality, wholesome beer and excellent flavor. Its origin is disputed between Thuringia - with an ordinance for inns dating back to 1434, and Bavaria - with a document dated 1516.
Germany is the home of Riesling wine with half of all Rieslings worldwide produced here. Riesling vines grow in all German wine regions and represent German wine culture like no other grape. In the Rheingau alone, Riesling grapes take up some 80% of the cultivated area. Young light Riesling wines from crisp dry to fruity sweet are ideal Summer wines. Riesling grapes are ideal for sparkling wine production because of their natural acidity.
Müller-Thurgau is a crossing of Riesling with Madeleine Royale and a relatively new grape variety used to make flowery and lively white wines. It is grown in nearly all of Germany’s wine regions. When you see ‘Rivaner’ on the bottle label you can be assured that it is a light, fresh and dry wine.
Silvaner is used to produce dry, full-bodied fruity wines – particularly in Franconia where the limestone- and Keuper soils ensure the production of very special wines. Some 75% of German Silvaner vines are grown in Franconia and Rheinhessen. Silvaner wine has mild acidity and is often blended with other varieties such as Riesling and made into dessert wine.
Spätburgunder or Pinot Noir is the most popular German red wine grape variety. It produces light to medium body wines, which come in a broad range of enticing bouquets, flavors and textures. Spätburgunder is also a grape that requires complex viticulture skills on the part of the wine grower due to its high demands on climate and soils.
Explore the vine-covered slopes of the rivers Moselle, Saar, Ruwer, Saale, Elbe, Nahe, Rhine and Ahr, and the gentle rolling vineyard hills of the Palatinate, Hessische Bergstrasse, Franconia, Baden and Württemberg - by foot, by bicycle or by tractor-drawn trailer.