Drinking Beer in Germany: rules and facts

Of course, Germany is well known for its favorite beverage: beer. Drinking beer in Germany is common and important, but thus it can also lead to some unpleasant moments when you don’t know how to handle the thousands of years of drinking culture. Let’s face the most important rules.

Drinking in Public

Unlike in many other countries, drinking alcohol and especially beer in public is not only legal but very common in Germany. The so-called Feierabendbier (end of work beer) is still a vivid part of the German beer and working culture. That’s why you can easily see workers with a can or a bottle of beer in their hand walking home or riding the bus and nobody will probably care. But beware: in some public trains or buses, drinking alcohol is prohibited, so just watch out for signs. Especially in summer, it is also widespread to have a beer outside at the lake, in the park or at the beach. You don’t need to cover your bottle – just show it with pride.

Anstoßen (toasting) with Beer

Toasting is crucial in Germany, especially when you have some beers with your friends. Germans tend to toast a lot and in many different situations. They toast when they get a new round of drinks, they toast when someone just said something important and they toast just without any reason. If you don’t want to attract attention, you should just follow some simple rules: You should always try to bump your glass to those of every single of your drinking mates, but sometimes it is just good enough to knock them all together. If your mate is too far away, it’s also allowed to just raise your glass and nod your head slightly. Don’t bump too harsh because your drink could splinter. Also, a very basic rule is to make eye-contact to whom you are toasting. If you don’t, you will have seven years of bad sex, according to a German drinking myth.

Rules of and facts about drinking Beer in Germany
© Pixabay

Drinking Age

In Germany, it is legal to enjoy soft alcoholic drinks like beer and wine at the age of 16, whereas hard drinks like spirits and liqueurs are only allowed to adults over 18. So don’t wonder if you see some youngsters having a beer – it is probably legal.

Never drink Weizen/Weißbier out of a Bottle

This rule is sometimes also discussed in Germany, but most of the German beer drinkers (and especially in the south) will agree: It is absolutely sacrilegious to drink a Weizenbier (or Weißbeer or Hefeweizen – different words, same style) out of the bottle.

You have to use a special, high glass, narrow at the bottom and wide at the top. An alternative can be a mug. There is a reason besides the good, old tradition: It just tastes better. Because of the yeast you use for this type of beer, you have to pour it to spread this yeast in the beverage. But better practice a bit because pouring a Weizen is not easy and must be done with the right technique.

4 responses to “Drinking Beer in Germany: rules and facts”

  1. Strictly speaking the “Never-out-of-the-bottle” rule applies only to the “Hefeweizen”, because this wheat beer has still the yeast in the bottle. When you have a “Kristallweizen”, the yeast has been filtered out before, so you could drink it directly out of the bottle (although it is quite uncommon, too).

  2. Many years ago on a business trip to Stuttgart, I decided to stay somewhere where I could pick up some local culture. I ended up in a wonderful gasthaus called the Anker a little bit out of town in Stuttgart-Möhringen. I met a couple of fellow travelers there—a young American woman and her Norwegian husband. They told me that there were two rules in drinking beer like a German. First, be patient. It takes a long time to prepare a mug of beer. They tap in a little bit at a time to avoid forming a head. It seems that a head can’t be avoided so that when a head foams over the top, they pick up a little slat and scrape off the foam so the mug is completely filled with no space taken up by foam. Second, praise the beer. When the server gets beer to your table without spilling a drop, you should say things like, “Isn’t that beautiful. Isn’t this just what we need at the end of a long day.” Or a little joke, “Just like my mother makes.” The Anker is still there but now a full-blown hotel.

  3. Concerning the rule about not making eye contact when toasting. Can this be reversed? I must have poor eye contact because even bad sex is better than no sex at all.

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