Germany’s Beer Gardens: Hours, Etiquette, and Ordering your Drinks

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Written by Andrea Kirkby for Suite

One of the great pleasures of traveling in Germany is drinking the local beer, particularly in summer when the beer gardens are open. But to make the most of your experience you do need to know the ropes; beer halls don’t work quite like pubs.

First of all, drinking hours are different. Many beer gardens and beer halls, particularly brewpubs, don’t open until the late afternoon during the week, though they may stay open till one in the morning or even later.

Secondly, the regulars are very protective of their space. If you see a brass plaque over a table, don’t sit there. The brass plaque isn’t there to say ‘Karl Marx drank here’ or commemorate past glories. It marks the table as a Stammtisch, the meeting place of a regular club or group of drinkers.

However, the public tables are there to be shared. Don’t feel awkward about heading for free spaces on a table that’s otherwise occupied – just ask if the seats are free (‘frei’) or occupied (‘besetzt’).

How to order your beer depends on the venue. In a beer hall, don’t head for the bar – you will be served at the table. In a large beer garden, on the other hand, you may need to head for the central beer pouring point. Pay the cashier first, find a mug, and take the ticket and the mug together to the pourer. Get ready to catch your mug as it slides along the bar – this is speedy pouring, not elegant service!

In beer gardens or at street festivals, you may be asked for a deposit (‘Pfand’) for the mug. Don’t forget to take the mug back and reclaim your money.

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Carlsberg Workers Strike Over Beer Limits

Courtesy the BBC

Carlsberg workers in Copenhagen have gone on strike against new rules that restrict the amount of free beer they can consume during their working day. Regulations brought in at the start of the month stipulate that workers are no longer allowed beer throughout the day, and can now only drink at lunchtime. Workers claim they were not consulted on the changes, which is why more than 250 have decided to strike in protest.

Carlsberg said it would not be reversing the new policy.

“Carlsberg has pulled something over the heads of the workers. They won’t have a dialogue with us,” said Michael Christiansen, representing the striking employees. “We have never had a problem with accidents or anything with alcohol involved.”

The strike has affected beer deliveries into the Danish capital as delivery drivers have gone on strike in sympathy with their co-workers. The strike began on Wednesday.