How to drink like a German
Germany. Home of Oktoberfest. Inventor of the beer garden. A mythical land where beer flows freely through the mighty rivers criss-crossing the Federal Republic.
Well, not quite. It may be renowned as one of the world’s great brewing nations but despite a liberal attitude towards alcohol, there are some tips worth remembering if you want to drink like a pro in Deutschland.
Know your laws
Possession of open containers of alcohol by persons of drinking age is legal in Germany. Or in plain English, you can drink in public. Whether strolling down the street or cranking up the BBQ in a public park, you’re entitled to crack open a coldie. But regional drinking laws in Germany are slowly changing, so know the laws in your city and keep public drunkenness to a minimum. Germans might have liberal laws but they think public drunks are embarrassing.
Keep it local
Variety is the spice of life! And when it comes to German beers, you can taste something new every day of the year. Federalism came late to Germany and most cities retain a distinct local identity. That’s an idea keenly embraced by local breweries that pump out an astonishing array of high-quality brews, most of which are consumed no further than the city limits. So when you’re in Cologne, grab a Koelsch. If you’re traipsing through Munich, hit the Hofbräuhaus to sample a local stein. Just remember – if you make the mistake of ordering a Heineken, you’ll be viewed as the tourist you are.
A Bavarian institution, there’s a reason Munich’s famous Oktoberfest is now the world’s largest fair. Attracting millions of tourists each year, this 16-day celebration of consumption begins in late September and ends in the first week of October. First held in 1810, Oktoberfest is now an internationally-renowned tourism extravaganza, with visitors from across the globe carousing joyously in the festival’s crowded tents. There’s plenty of traditional Bavarian cuisine to enjoy but the real attraction here is the unique Oktoberfest beer, crafted only by certified breweries within the city limits at a concentration of 6 per cent.
Sound like an expert
Nothing impresses a thirsty German more than sounding like an expert, especially when you’ve already pounded back a few. Start out slowly with a discussion on the virtues of a Bavarian wheat beer over one of the bitter dark varieties, before bringing out the big guns to debate the finer complexities of the Reinheitsgebot – Germany’s famous “Beer Purity Law.” And remember; the more you drink, the smarter you’ll invariably sound.
Warm up the vocal cords
Hitting the beer gardens is so yesterday. These days Germany is all about football and since hosting arguably the most successful World Cup of all in 2006, visitors have begun flocking to German football grounds to find out what all the fuss is all about. The Bundesliga is booming with the largest average attendances in Europe, and nothing says “let’s make a party” like knocking back a few on the terraces. So grab a bratwurst and a beer, warm up those vocal cords and get ready to cheer on your team. Toast a victory or drown your sorrows in defeat; the important thing here is to keep drinking.