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A taste of genuine German beer

/ Source: The Associated Press

You traveled hours for your first glass of genuine German beer. And after it's ordered, you'll just have to wait a minute or two more.

Pouring a beer is serious business in Germany. Bartenders first wet the inside of the glass, to reduce excessive foaming. Then, they let the head settle for maybe a minute, and top it up several times until just a bit of foam peeks over the rim.

Perfect. Zum Wohl! (To your health!)

Here's a brief guide to beer in Germany for visitors to the World Cup June 9-July 9.

  • Pilsner: Usually shortened to "Pils," as in "ein Pils, bitte!," ("a pilsner, please!") this is the mainstay in the north, a light-colored beer made from barley and with the distinct, faintly bitter taste of hops - the flowering plant used for flavor. Often served in a tall, thin flute with the brewer's logo, especially if it's a "null drei," or a third of a liter - about two-thirds of a pint. A larger "null fuenf," or a half-liter, equal to about a pint, may arrive in a tall mug with a handle.


  • Helles: German for "light," referring to color, not alcohol or flavor, popular in the southern region of Bavaria. Helles differs from pilsner by having noticeable malt sweetness and less hops flavor.

  • Hefeweizen: Made from wheat, naturally cloudy from yeast, faintly sweet. A favorite down south but available all over.

  • Kristallweizen: A hefeweizen, with the yeast filtered out.

  • Dunkles: German for "dark," referring to the darker color caused by roasting the malted grain a bit more.

  • Bock: A strong lager, with around 7 percent alcohol, a bit on the sweet side. A "mass" (as the one-liter - about two pints - beer steins are known; pronounced "mahs") of dopplebock, which is even stronger, packs a wallop, so watch out.

  • Radler: A beer cut with lemonade or lemon-lime soda. Name means "cyclist" because it is said to have been invented so cyclists could refresh themselves without crashing.

Associated Press Writer David Rising contributed to this report.