On top

Premium products were strictly for export during East German times. So East Germans could hardly get their hands on two of the best and most popular beer varieties in Germany, Radeberger and Wernesgrüner. While the Wernesgrüner Brewery was founded in 1436, making it one of the oldest German breweries, the Radeberger Brewery near Dresden created the first Pilsen-style beer in Germany and was purveyor to the Royal Saxon household. An unfiltered variety of Radeberger Pilsner is sold exclusively at the “Radeberger Brauereiausschank”, just a few steps away from the Royal palace in Dresden. There are numerous breweries in Saxony and most of them, like the aforementioned, are open for tours. The Landskron brewery in Görlitz is even a protected monument and it has even served as a backdrop for international movie productions. Beers come in normal and dark varieties, with other beer specialties complementing the range, often made in micro-breweries.

Outdoor traditions

Saxons love the outdoors. When the sun is out, they will flock to open spaces to hike, cycle and climb or just for a walk. So it is no wonder that beer gardens have a long tradition. While they can be found anywhere in Saxony, the beer gardens along the Elbe River in Dresden are particularly charming. While watching the steamboats on the water and the cyclists and hikers on the banks of the river, one can enjoy great beer from the tap and hearty food made freshly on the grill or in the pan. For those looking for a more commanding position, there is Dresden’s highest beer garden on the roof of the Yenidze, the famous “Tobacco Mosque”, a former cigarette factory designed like an Islamic house of prayer.

A different kind of beer

Water, barley and hops are the only ingredients of German beer as defined by the German Beer Purity Law of 1516. Coriander and salt are not listed and yet they define the character of a local beer specialty in Leipzig which is exempted from these strict regulations. Although originally from Goslar in what is now called Lower Saxony, the “Gose” beer had become the favorite local drink in Saxony’s largest city by the end of the 19th century. However, it became unavailable soon after the last brewery had been nationalized after World War II. It was revived in the 1980s when Lothar Goldhahn reopened the Gose pub “Ohne Bedenken”. Another popular Gose outlet is the “ Bayerischer Bahnhof” in the Leipzig train station of the same name which is a micro brewery cum restaurant.