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The 10 Most Underrated German Beers, According To Our Panel Of Craft Beer Experts

When most Americans think of German beer, they think of the big names — Paulaner, Spaten, Bitburger, Beck’s. There’s nothing wrong with those, but there’s a lot more complexity to German beer than just what you’ll find from the biggest exports. This is a country with 1,500 breweries, and with that kind of production volume, there are bound to be countless underrated and underappreciated German beers flying under the radar every year.

Underrated is a subjective term, of course, so it requires a bit of explaining. For our purposes here, “underrated” doesn’t mean that the beer can’t be popular. It just means that the beer maybe doesn’t get the acclaim or the respect that it should. “Underrated” encompasses both the brands you’ve never heard of that deserve your attention, and the ones you have heard of that maybe deserve a second look.

We welcome help from the professionals, so we asked a few of our favorite craft beer experts, brewers, and brewing professionals to tell us their choices for the most underrated German beers. They gave us quite a list.

Weihenstephaner Original Helles

Weihenstephaner Original Helles
Weihenstephaner

Dan Lipke, head brewer at Clown Shoes Beer in Boston

ABV: 5.1%

Average Price: $10.50 for a four-pack of 16-ounce cans

Why This Beer?

Weihenstephaner Original Helles in my pick. I’m glad to see the craft community embrace the pilsner style in recent years, but I would love to see more people get into the Munich helles style of light and maltier lagers. Perhaps the most challenging beer for a craft brewer to pull off, there’s no room for error in this incredibly soft beer. But done well, it’s perfection in a beer glass. It is a pure experience, celebrating the malt with only a kiss of noble hops.

Aventinus Eisbock

Aventinus Eisbock
Aventinus

Mark Hughes, specialty brewing manager at Lagunitas Brewing Company in Petaluma, California

ABV: 12%

Average Price: $5.79 for a 12-ounce bottle

Why This Beer?

Aventinus Eisbock is certainly a wild experience. Its featured flavors of banana esters, dried fruits, and rich malts are certainly worth the liver workout at 12 percent ABV. It pushes the bounds of what beer can be.

Erdinger Dunkel

Erdinger Dunkel
Erdinger

Ryan Tefft, assistant brewer at Sprecher Brewing Company in Glendale, Wisconsin

ABV: 5.3%

Average Price: $10.50 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

I’d go with Erdinger Dunkel. It’s a German lager that has a good balance and flavor. It has a solid German style, which is what also first inspired us at Sprecher to brew beer in the Germanic style for a domestic audience in Wisconsin. And now, the market is shifting back more to this style, rather than the crazy IPAs.

Augustiner Lagerbier Hell

Augustiner Lagerbier Hell
Augustiner

Eric Warner, brewmaster at Karbach Brewing in Houston

ABV: 5.2%

Average Price: $3 for a 500ml bottle

Why This Beer?

No question, Augustiner Helles. Underrated might be a bit of a misnomer because any resident of Munich and Germany knows it’s the best helles in Germany. But it’s underrated because the brewery doesn’t rely on any marketing other than word-of-mouth advertising. The malt characters are soft and delicate and there’s a subtle, noble hop character to balance it out.

Schonram’s Schonramer Pils

Schonram's Schonramer Pils
Schonram

Ryan Pachmayer, head brewer at Yak and Yeti Brewpub & Restaurant in Arvada, Colorado

ABV: 5.4%

Average Price: $4.50 for a 500ml bottle

Why This Beer?

Schonramer Pils is probably my favorite pilsner. One guy in California imports it in tiny fresh batches and sends it out to very limited accounts across California, Oregon, Washington, and Washington, D.C. While the more widely-distributed pilsners get more hype, Schonram is tops in class for me. It’s one of the more aggressively hopped pilsners in Germany, and the higher alcohol helps balance that along with the decoction of mashed flavors of the local pilsner malt.

Rothaus Tannenzäpfle Pils

Rothaus Tannenzäpfle Pils
Rothaus

Rob Day, senior director of marketing for Jack’s Abby Craft Lagers in Framingham, Massachusetts

ABV: 5.1%

Average Price: $17.50 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

Rothaus Tannenzäpfle Pils is a very clean and sharp pils with a full malt flavor. I don’t see much chatter about it, but if you get your hands on some, you’ll dig it. It’s crisp, delicious, and complex. The way great pilsners should be.

Bayreuther Hell

Bayreuther Hell
Bayreuther

Luis G. Brignoni, founder of Wynwood Brewing Co. in Miami

ABV: 4.9%

Average Price: Limited Availability

Why This Beer?

Bayreuther Hell is the most underrated German beer. It’s clean and crisp with notes of fresh bread and grain. Can you tell that I really enjoy helles lagers? It’s a great beer that will get you excited about the style. How could it not?

Aecht Schlenkerla Helles

Aecht Schlenkerla Helles
Aecht Schlenkerla

Mike Kelly, senior brewer at Harpoon Brewery in Boston

ABV: 4.3%

Average Price: $5 for a 500ml bottle

Why This Beer?

Aecht Schlenkerla Helles is my pick. The subtle smoke in this helles makes for a unique and delicious beer that serves as both an easy introduction to smoked beers for some, and a regular sipper for others. It’s a truly unique and memorable beer.

Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier

Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier
Weihenstephaner

Douglas Constantiner, founder and CEO of Societe Brewing in San Diego

ABV: 5.4%

Average Price: $10 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier is a beautiful Bavarian hefe that I never get tired of because it’s so approachable, you can just keep drinking it. Hefeweissens were meant to be day drinking beers so they get looked over. But Weihenstephaner has been making them for a thousand years, I’d say they’re pretty good at it.

Hofbrau Original

Hofbrau Original
Hofbrau

Ryan Fehling, brewer at Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. in Chico, California

ABV: 5.1%

Average Price: $9 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

Hofbrau Original is my pick. It has the perfect amount of sweetness without being cloying as far as a helles goes, and finishes crisp and clean. I think it also offers a slightly floral aroma which makes it stand out against other helles lagers in the best way.

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