The person who invented “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” obviously factored beer into the equation. Then there’s the person at the office who sneaks a drink mid-afternoon and proclaims, “Oh, it’s five o’clock somewhere,” and proceeds to laugh at his or her own joke.
Beer is the cornerstone of Bavarian culture and history dating back to the 900s. It’s such an essential part of their economic livelihood that the breweries follow Reinheitsgebot, a law that dates back to the 1400s. Essentially, the “German Beer Purity Law” is a guideline to what makes German beer — water, barley and hops.
The law was updated in 1993 to include yeast, wheat and cane sugar while maintaining the alcohol content between 4.7% and 5.4%. That explains downing one of those big boot beers is an attainable challenge. You’ll just be going to the bathroom for 24-hours straight afterwards.
Obviously, Oktoberfest is the biggest celebration in the world that has been bastardized. I like to be the one who points out that Oktoberfest is celebrated mostly in September (Sept 19-Oct. 4). The response I get is the, “Yeah, but still…”
In Munich, you are never far from a beer hall or garden. You step off the plane and there’s a brewery right after baggage claim. The place to go for that 10am beer is the Viktualienmarkt, the year long outdoor food market, in the city center. You put in your 50p for the beer glass deposit. Fill up on a rotation of beers from Augustiner, Hacker-Pschorr, Löwenbräu, Hofbräu, Paulaner and Spaten.
Drinking a beer at 10am on a crisp Autumn day outside is no big deal in Munich. You can’t replicate the experience anywhere else. It’s just as soothing, comforting, relaxing and sociable as a cup on coffee. If you do that here in America, it’s the making on a intervention. In Germany, it’s a good way to start the day … but not everyday mind you.
It’s when you have that second, third or fourth stein, then you have a problem — as with coffee. You will see the occasional stereotypical drunkard at the beer halls, and the locals call them “tourists.”