When the centigrade begins to rise, I enjoy nothing more than a cold German pilsner. Whether we are at a bar, a biergarten or simply having some beers along the river, I have my summer relax schedule down pat.
But if you want to cool down without boozing up, Germany has other options. Surprise! There is plenty to drink besides good German beer. Here are my 8 favorite non-alcoholic summer drinks in Germany. Prost!
While suspicion of Germany's pristine tap water is disappearing, many Germans still prefer their water bottled and bubbling. The variety of German mineral waters and level of sprudel (carbonation) is astounding.
The terms used to describe the water can also be quite confusing. I have casually opened a bottle of water many times and been surprised to have to spray all over. These terms will help you avoid the same mistake.
Bottled Water Terms in Germany
- ohne Kohlensäure - Without carbonation
- Stilles Wasser - No or few bubbles
- Medium (green or green-labeled bottles) - Medium bubbles
- Klassisch / Classic - Heavily carbonated
If you order a "stilles Wasser" at a restaurant, rest assured that it will actually be uncarbonated. And if you want tap water, you may need to ask twice and nice for Leitungswasser, but they are legally obliged to serve it.
There was once a time when only a select few had heard of this German-made, South American inspired drink. Today it is sold in every Späti and found in the hand of every hipster on their way to the club.
So...what is it? A caffeinated, carbonated, Yerba Mate drink, it can loosely be called a tea or soda. It is valued for its high caffeine (20 mg per 100 ml) content which delivers a mellow, enduring buzz and relatively low sugar content. It is the chosen drink of those who start their weekend Thursday evening and end it sometime on Sunday, the hacker community, or anyone in need of a little pick-me-up.
If you can't live without the drink in Winter, it is still available, but also comes in an herbal “winter edition”.
If you don't enjoy it your first time, you're not alone. The drink's slogan "Man gewöhnt sich daran", roughly translates to "You’ll get used to it".
Fresh Fruit Juice
Fruit juice flows freely in summer. My favorite is the mix of Kirsch (cherry) and Banana to make KiBa. Fresh squeezed Orangensaft (orange juice) is also commonly available at every kind of festival. Other juices:
- Apfelsaft - apple juice
- Birnensaft - pear juice
- Brombeersaft - blackberry juice
- Grapefruitsaft - grapefruit juice
- Traubensaft (weis or rot): white or red grape juice
- Johannisbeersaft - current juice
This fancied-up version of apple juice (mixed with sparkling water) is often the kid's drink of choice at social occasions, but its omnipresence and refreshing taste make it the perfect summer beverage for all ages. Schorle simply refers to a juice mixed with sparkling water so there are many different versions of this drink.
Manufactured in the Bavarian town of Ostheim vor der Rhön by the Peter beer brewery, Bionade is non-alcoholic and organically fermented and carbonated. It comes in varieties such as Holunderbeere (elderberry), lychee, Ingwer-Orange (ginger-orange) and quince.
All flavors of Bionade contain water, sugar, malt from barley, carbon acid, calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate. It is billed as tasting like a soft drink, but is a healthier alternative.
Fassbrause is another unique soda-type drink from the Germans. Though some brands are alcoholic, most are not and the drink is made from fruit, spices and malt extract. Its name translates to "keg soda" and it is indeed traditionally stored in a keg. The most common version tastes like apple, but rhubarb and strawberry are becoming popular.
Fassbrause was originally invented in Berlin in 1908 as a mixture of fruit (apples), herbs and malt to serve as an alcohol-free substitute for beer. But since then, the word has come to mean a wide range of alcohol-free products or beer mixes like Radler.
In Berlin, Fassbrause made by Rixdorfer or Spreequell can still be bought on tap in some bars. Look for Sportmolle (sport beer) and note that it is often mixed with beer. Oh so German - mixing beer with athletics.
In a country known for its strict purity laws in brewing (Reinheitsgebot), it may be surprising that the Germans are keen to mix soda with all sorts of things like beer (Diesel). The popular Spezi (cola and orange soda) is another non-alcoholic version of this mixing of drinks.
International sodas are also widely sold and simply known as Cola.