It is now 501 years since Germany’s celebrated beer purity laws were first passed. The Reinheitsgebot decreed that any drink labelled beer had to produced using only three ingredients : barley, hops and water. Yeast was added later, bringing the total up to four, while a bending of the rules permitted wheat beers to become a legal product. Despite these restrictions German brewers produce beer styles as varied as any other country.
With summer rapidly approaching, BBQs are being dusted down and fired up ready for sizzling season and at many of these meaty feasts it will be clean, crisp German lagers and hefeweizens that will be poured as liquid accompaniment.
With help from brewing aces Krombacher, we take a look at four of the most popular German beer styles and suggest what grilled food to accompany each variation of barley, hops, water and yeast. Consider it the fifth ingredient to the pure German booze…
On a sunny summer’s day, with a barbecue’s fiery embers and smokey wafts adding to the heat of the occasion, few beers are quite as rewarding as a chilled glass of proper German pils. Krombacher’s version is typical of the style: light and golden, with a thin ribbon of sweetness running through a crisp, dry body which crackles with peppery spice and bitterness. It’s the daddy of BBQ beers and, as such, at its best matched with the staple of hot coal cooking: the beefburger. Each clean malty swig works seamlessly with the hearty gnawings of charred meat, simultaneously refreshing the palette and soothing any sun scorched heads.
Another golden lager but with fewer bitter and spicy hop notes, this beer allows the subtly sweet grain flavours to take the lead. It’s a very summery drink, with fresh grassy notes turning to straw as if bleached by the sun while sipping. To appreciate this beer’s delicate charms it’s best matched with the lighter flavoured foods that emerge from the grill: perhaps a vegetable kebab full of healthy fresh goodness or a piece perfectly cooked chicken wrapped in a crisp, smokey skin.
Krombacher Dark has all the beery goodness of the brewery’s lighter coloured beers but contains some richer roasted flavours through the use of darker malts. There’s a more prominent treacly sweetness in this beer, so if you’re considering a barbecued dessert (such as grilled banana), this is the bottle to open. It also works well with meats slathered with sweet, sticky coatings, such as spare ribs dripping with BBQ sauce, with those stronger malty notes standing up to the food’s extra assault of flavour.
The crisp, tangy notes of a hefeweizen are set off a treat with two of food’s bad boys: salt and fat. Bavarians often take advantage of this combo by munching their local sausage speciality, the veal and pork ‘weisswurst’, alongside their weizen, but it also works particularly well with a proper British banger, spitting with fat and slathered in mustard. Keep a nose out for the weizen’s banana and clove aroma and enjoy the hints of fruity bitterness as you effortlessly move between porky bite and wheaty mouthful.
Krombacher beers are available from Majestic, Beers of Europe and Noble Green Wines
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