Sunday 9 September 2018

And more about Oktoberfest and other drink-related differences
Let us know what you think about table manners.

Excerpt from Chapter One.

Table manners constitute an important part of cultural competence whether you travel on business or for pleasure. Or host people from other countries in your hometown. A trifle, like how you like your beer served can leave you out, preventing you from joining in and enjoying the fun.

Say you are English and go to Oktoberfest in Munich. You like beer; it is your drink of choice. You anticipate your first mass (beer mug 1, holds 1 litre). You know how you like your beer to look, how you like it to taste. And here it comes. With a beer head a third of a mug tall. That’s how they do it in Germany. Beer should have a head. Even if you serve it at home.

Many English friends and colleagues of mine felt puzzled. Andrew even asked the waiter directly “and where is one-third of my beer?” He felt cheated. Paid for a whole litre and got two-thirds of it.

Germans coming to England and getting their pints full, clean and clear are known for asking publicans not “to kill the best there.”[i]

A colleague of mine, Karsten, sporting a rather depressed face after his first pint served “according to the local” standards at Highgate pub, which he insisted was frequented by Karl Marx, went as far as getting beyond the bar and grabbing the bartender’s hand in order to ensure he gets his beer the way he likes it. Karl Marx, still in Highgate, just a few hundred meters away down the hill, surely approved.[ii] The bartender wasn’t amused.

According to Euromonitor International data, reported by (Akkoc, 2014), Germany consumes an estimated 110 litres of beer per person totalling nearly 9bn litres per year in total. UK – only half of the total amount, 4.3bn litres, which translates into 67 litres per capita. Maybe beer with the head really knows better when it comes to sales?

Differences in how you serve alcohol are not limited to beer only. The British “large glass” of wine doesn’t exist in Austria. Serve it and you would be considered a low class alcoholic. You can order a “viertel” (quarter, the same 250 ml) but it will be served in the jug and the waiter will pour only something like 125 or even less in your glass.

[i] You can read more on how to pour different beer German style here:
[ii] Karl Marx is buried in Highgate Cemetery East. He moved to London in 1849 and died there in 1883.

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