7 German beer culture facts


Germans are famous for their love of beer. Summer barbeques, winter weddings – you name it. But did you know there is also a particular culture associated with drinking beer in Germany? Here are 7 things you may not have known before!

Beers have been brewed in Germany since the Iron Age

Though brewing kick-started with the arrival of the Romans, Germans have been testing out the beer-flavored waters since roughly 1000 BC, during the Iron Age. Since then, it was perfected in the Middle Ages by monks looking for a liquid lunch to help them through fasts. And at one point beer was even considered an important food group in Germany!

There are only four ingredients in beer

The Beer Purity Law, called Reinheitsgebot in Germany, was enacted by Duke Wilhelm IV in 1516, where the recipe was limited to just water, malt, yeast and hops. Today, the Purity Law still reigns supreme and the German Brewers’ Federation has even called for it to be named a World Cultural Heritage as the world’s oldest food law.

Say “Prost!” when you clink glasses – and always look the other people in the eye

Cheersing beers in Germany is always accompanied by the joyful “Prost!”. Unlike many other languages, the origin of the phrase isn’t clear. It comes from the Latin “Prosit” which means, “may it be useful” and perhaps came from 18th century student slang.

And while in some cultures it may not be compulsory to look the other people in the eye when clinking glasses, that’s not the case in Germany. Superstition says if you done lock eyes both drinkers will face seven years of bad sex.

Germany’s crowing beer glass: the Maß

Germany’s traditional beer drinking glass towers over those in other countries. A full one-liter, the Maß features round lens-shaped dips along the outer layer of the mug. This is called the “eyes” and used to measure sections of the glass.

Expect a smack down

No, not a fight. Physically tapping beers on the table after cheersing is an old custom that also doesn’t have a clear explanation. Some say this sloshed poison out of the glass, while others say it was to mix the ingredients to maintain the beer’s foam. One other theory was that drinkers would do this at huge medieval tables to give a cheers to fellow drinkers seated farther away.

But that’s not the case with Weißbier

Wheat beer, called Weißbier in Germany, is one of the most popular alternatives to the regular pilsner. However, when knocking glasses, wheat beer fans say you must hit the bottoms of the glass together, rather than the top. This is to keep the beer’s heavy sediment properly mixed.

Germans don’t drink the most beer out of all the Europeans

What may be surprising to most is that Germans actually drink, on average, the third most amount of beer of all the Europeans – right behind the Czechs and Austrians. In Berlin, the average person drinks about 105.5 liters of beer per year. That’s enough to fill a bathtub!