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The lager style that most of the world has come to know as "beer" originated in Germany. However, Germans don't just produce one beverage called beer; they brew more than 5,000 varieties in about 1,300 breweries. The hallmark of the country's dedication to beer is the Purity Law, das Reinheitsgebot, unchanged since Duke Wilhelm IV introduced it in Bavaria in 1516. The law decrees that only malted barley, hops, yeast, and water may be used to make beer, except for the specialty Weiss or Weizenbier (wheat beers). Although the law has been repealed, many breweries continue to follow its precepts.
The beer preferred in most of Germany is Pils (Pilsner), which has a rich yellow hue, hoppy flavor, and an alcohol content of about 5%. Frankfurt's local Pils brands are Binding and Henninger, but Licher, from the village of Lich nearby, is especially well balanced and crisp. The area is also home to Schöfferhofer, who brew Germany's number two style, Hefeweizen (wheat beer), which is cloudy, yeasty, and a bit sweet.
Few German bars offer more than one type of Pils or Weizen on tap, so you'll need to hit a few bars to sample a good variety. Not a bad proposition.
Quaff it Here
Begin a night at Klosterhof (Weissfrauenstr. 3 069/9139-9000 www.klosterhof-frankfurt.de Willy-Brandt-Platz [U-bahn]), a traditional restaurant and beer garden in Center City, where you can try Hessian favorites like Handkäs mit Musik (literally, hand cheese with music, a soft cheese served with chopped onions, oil, and vinegar), as well as their custom-brewed Naturtrüb, an unfiltered (and thus naturally cloudy) lager.
Eckhaus (Bornheimer Landstr. 45 069/491-197 Merianplatz [U-bahn]) is the perfect neighborhood bar to down a cold Binding or two. The restaurant, in a great location just off the Berger Strasse strip in leafy Nordend, offers a solidly executed menu of standards like schnitzel and roast chicken, along with a few creative specials.
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