Fun facts about German beer

Beer is a staple drink all over the world, but none more so than Germany. German beer has a long and somewhat odd history. We thought some of them were too good not to share! You can use any one of these as a conversation starter the next time someone cracks open their bottle.

  • There’s a law about how to brew German beer

It’s called Reinheitsgebot, aka the Beer Purity Law. It came into effect in April 1516 after the unification of Bavaria and stated that beer could only be made with four ingredients: water, hops, and barley. This was done for a number of reasons, one of the most important being to maintain the ‘purity’ of a staple in the German diet. This also lessened competition between brewers and bakers for the grain by saying the traditional brew could only be made with barley rather than rye or wheat.

  • Not all German beer is equal

When you’re travelling around Germany, Austria, and other parts of Bavaria, expect different brews on tap. The bartender won’t ask you what kind of beer you like when you order but it’ll most likely be whatever’s arrived from the local brewery.


  • You can drink a different German beer everyday for over a decade

And then you’ll still have more to get through! How is this possible when there’s only three key ingredients? Well it’s all thanks to variety. There’s only a minimal amount of ingredients, but thanks to variety there’s:

  • 40 different malts
  • 100 kinds of hops
  • 200 yeast strain


  • Oktoberfest started as a wedding party

The famous beer festival began as a celebration of King Ludwig marrying Therese of Bavaria in 1810. By 1819 it was decided that Oktoberfest would become an annual event. In the early days the festival included horse races and a variety of carnival games, the latter courting controversy due to the punishing horse track.

Image via NBC

  • There’s a schnapps-to-beer ratio

German beer brewed on Oktoberfest is especially potent. The ratio is 8 schnapps to 1 stein of beer.


  • Germany’s oldest brewery

The Weihenstephan Brewery started making beer as early as the 700’s and is located in Freising, Bavaria. Monks started brewing beer with a license during the mid-11th century and the brewery is still in operation today, albeit under the government.

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