Mittwoch, 5. Juli 2017

These days it takes only one "Moas" to send me sprawling. Keep quiet but mine's just a radler

It's exactly 100 years since they threw out their royal family. But that doesn't stop Germans ceremoniously electing another type of royalty every year. Sharing a half with Her Royal Highness, Beer Queen Angela Ertlmaier.

The Germans have a saying 'Dienst ist Dienst, und schnapps ist schnapps'. Don't mix business with pleasure, in other words. But when it comes to their Lieblingsdrink, Germans are far more flexible. I'm lucky to teach in a college that actively encourages mixing business and pleasure - right down to the last drop. Students follow courses in brewery technology and get to test the final product too. Our campus at Weihenstephan is home to the oldest brewery in the world - with a great beer garden to boot. This week my students wrote their final exam. Deciding where to go and celebrate afterwards seemed a bit of a no-brainer.

Bildergebnis für weihenstephan brewery
Just steps away from the lecture halls, where you can easily smell the yeast fermenting. 
No wonders students feel so happy here. 

Which is where I end up the other evening - the Braustüberl beerhouse. It's lovely and warm and I'm looking forward to a cool brew - or two. Scaling the few steps separating exam hall and beer hall, my colleague tells me how, after a couple beers with him, his students sometimes ask "Can I say 'you' to 'you'?". He says the second 'you' in a slightly husky voice, indicating a deeper level of familiarity. Sounds like a very German dilemma - not knowing whether to address someone formally with Sie or informally with Du. Grown-ups might go all their working life calling each other Sie, before retiring with a typical arm-linking, beer mug-clinking ceremony (so-called Bruderschaft trinken), in which they solemnly pledge to call each other Du till their dying day. Nothing to slap your thighs about, but then Germans never did take drinking to closer friendship on the light shoulder.

I'm last in line so simply grab what I guess everyone else is ordering: The classic liter. After all, as the saying in Bavaria goes, A Moas muss sei (literally, a liter must be). But, as I struggle to gulp down the final suds, I notice how most students are nursing just half liters - and drinking verrrrry slowly. 

Life's unfair. I mean, when you're young you can handle beer easily (young Germans, given half an opportunity, can drown a liter or two without batting an eyelid). Only problem is when you're studying you can't afford the full fling. So you go halves with a mate. Then when you're older you can afford to up the ante, but you just can't handle the quantity. That said, the average German manages to drink 104 litres a year. That's almost twice the amount consumed per capita in Britain. 

But not necessarily - you can cheat with Radler. Weihenstephan, by the way, is even older than the Bard himself . They've been brewing here for over 1000 years. 
To beer or not to beer? Fortunately there's a third option. Radler is part brew, part lemonade. For Bavarian purists that's almost akin to blasphemy. Anyway, served in liter mugs, it looks just like you're drinking the real man's thing. The problem, of course, comes when you splash out on a big beer and get handed a Radler by mistake...

Relaxing on the terrace overlooking the "green campus" (so called not just because of its green technology courses but also the whole site - beautifully bathed in a sea of greenery), and enjoying good company late into the warm evening, it strikes me that this could easily pass as the gateway to heaven.

Oh, did I not mention? This evening the students teach me a lesson too. I learn how to ‘prost’.

The golden rule of ‘prosting’ – the clinking together of beer mugs – is that you have to make obvious eye contact with everyone around the table. Flashing each other mischievous grins, they go on to tell me that failing to do so can lead to seven years of bad sex. Unsure whether they’re joking or not, I pop into the loo a little later and quietly fact check their claim on my smartphone. They’re dead right.

Time, I think, for another Radler.


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