I think it’s safe to say that the Germans and the Brits have had a stormy relationship over the years. Once foes, now friends, if Facebook had existed a hundred years ago, the phrase “it’s complicated” would have been never more prudent. The world cup and the war have done little to ease tensions between the two nations over the decades but one unifying factor, which has never been in doubt, is their shared appreciation with beer. It seems (beer) bridges can be built after all.
As a lifelong teetotaller (minus the numerous sips of Pumpkin’s Toblerone cocktail I tried in The Maldives – it was like drinking dessert through a straw), I have frequently been faced with the question, “Why don’t you drink?” I would love to reveal a hidden, dramatic secret underpinning this life decision: Recovering alcoholic? Thrown in a prison cell one night for drunken disorderly behaviour?
Boringly however, that would be a fabrication. My reasons are fairly nondescript. Most of my friends enjoy a nice tipple but I just never really got into it and was warned by most that I was supposedly vocal enough without the alcohol. It has saved me a bit of cash and a lot of calories without any expense to my social life so I decided to stick with this lifestyle choice. It’s really as simple as that.
How then was I going to perform in a German Brauhaus (beer house). Pumpkin got prepped with a burger from the Christmas market before we made our way to Hofbrauhaus, the ultimate Munich beer house, where we shared long wooden tables with hardcore drinkers.
The space is airy, ceilings high and the waitresses are styled with frilly pinafores, rather resembling Bavarian milk maids. Loud, live music provides the soundtrack to your booze and in amongst the tourists populating the Brauhaus, we spotted a fair few traditional Bavarian, middle-aged men, complete with moustache, Bavarian hats and drinking chums.
They were visibly in demand and women braver than I was had the confidence to stroll over and ask for a photo with them. I recoil into shy and inhibited tourist at such opportunities – perhaps I do need a beer after all.
Options include the mammoth 1 litre in traditional beer mug or a decidedly, less-exciting half-litre size in a normal glass. Don’t think badly of me as a wife when I tell you that I really encouraged Pumpkin to get the 1 litre –not because I particularly wanted an inebriated husband with an impaired liver but more because I wanted a photo of my Pumpkin enjoying the hugest beer he’d ever had (plus because when he’s had a few drinks, I tend to receive a barrage of compliments!) But the net result of wisdom (and age) saw him choose the sensible size and I stuck to an orange juice, the drink that I spent my teens downing.
This is an experience not to be missed when in Germany. I had envisioned it to emulate a British pub but the German beer houses assume an altogether different pace, clientele and layout. It is noisy and crowded so it’s not somewhere for romance, fine dining or meaningful conversations but it is a place to capture the hearty Bavarian beer culture and there was something hugely feel-good about it and you have the reassurance of knowing that I say that without the effect of any beer-goggles.