Written by Franz Hofer for A Tempest in a Tankard
Franz HoferPeople and personalities. It’s the reason I love beer travel so much. I’ve met people from all walks of life in North America and Europe since starting this blog, be it folks who have left comfortable careers to follow the siren call of the brewhouse, or people who visit these breweries and taprooms in search of new drinking experiences and the conviviality that comes with them. I’ve made fast acquaintances and lifelong friends over pints in places as diverse as Montreal, Tokyo, and the rural Flemish countryside surrounding Brussels.
But nowhere is this sense of conviviality more pronounced than in the taverns and beer gardens of Germany and Austria, particularly Bavaria. This has everything to do with the communal nature of seating in beer halls, pubs, and beer gardens, where every seat at every table save the Stammtisch (regulars’ table) is up for grabs. Rarely will you find two-seat or four-seat tables more common to restaurants and cafes. Rather, longer tables that typically seat anywhere from six to twelve are the order of the day. If there’s an unoccupied seat at a table, even an eight-seater that’s been reserved by a party of six, simply ask if the seat is free, then sit down, order your beer, and enjoy your solitude or engage in conversation according to your wont. And if you’re alone at a table enjoying your solitude, note that it’s the height of rudeness to answer that the seats around you aren’t free for the taking.
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