Germany by Beer
"Beer isn't just a beverage," Germans say with a wink. "It's liquid bread." True enough, considering the ingredients allowed by the Beer Purity Law of 1516: barley, hops, and water. Nobody has found more ways to drink their bread than the Germans, who boast 1,300 breweries across the country.
Bavaria is the home of German beer, but its best export into other parts of the country is a tall, cold Weizenbier. This refreshing wheat beer is best sipped slowly at a beer garden, beneath the shade of the surrounding chestnut trees.
Traveling in the Rhine region, stop in one of the dark wood taverns of Cologne for a Kölsch, a light, golden beer served in small glasses. Neighboring rival, Düsseldorf, is home of the Altbier, a dark, bitter beer.
A stop in northern Germany in late April and early May wouldn't be complete without a Bockbier. This hearty, sparkling beer has double the alcohol content of a pilsner. On the first of May—a holiday in Germany—a special Maibock is enjoyed outdoors.
For those who like it sweet, in Berlin's hole-in-the-wall pubs and chic new bars, try a Berliner Weisse, a Weizenbier flavored with raspberry or woodruff syrup (it's an acquired taste).
For a full-bodied eastern German beer, try a Schwarzbier. Its dark color comes from the specially roasted barley used in the brewing process.