A well-made German beer is both tasty and relatively wholesome: in Bavaria, it’s considered a foodstuff and included in soldiers’ rations. It’s unlikely to give you a headache, upset your stomach, or cause an allergic reaction, as the acids and biological amines in Belgian lambics may, and it can have a surprising range of flavors—from sweet Helles to dark Doppelbock to smoky Rauchbier. The strictures of the Reinheitsgebot have helped turn German brewers into the most resourceful and technically capable in the world. By mixing and matching strains of yeast, varieties of hops, and pale or roasted grains, they can produce almost any flavor found in fruit or spice. With three ingredients, they can give the illusion of a dozen.
The same discipline, if not creativity, has helped make Budweiser the most popular beer in the world. Its sheer consistency, across tens of billions of bottles and cans, is a technical marvel, and even the crankiest craft brewers harbor a secret admiration for it.
Burkhard Bilger, “A Better Brew”, The New Yorker (24 November 2008), 96.