A Guide To German Drinking Culture

22 August 2023
By Sarah Angela Almaden
Japanese House
Unsplash: Shannia Christanty

Believe it or not, there are thousands and thousands of beer varieties in Germany. Apparently, the number is even believed to be more than 5,000 beer varieties. And these different beers are brewed in about 1,500 beer breweries all over Deutschland. That is a lot of beer and that is a lot of beer breweries. Considering all this beer business, you’d think that beer is the most popular beverage in Germany but it’s not. Because the most popular drink in this country is Mineral Water or Mineral Wasser. And then there’s beer or Bier.

Who could and would forget about beer? Beer is an important part of German culture and drinking beer is even enjoyed regularly. In fact, some people in Bavaria also enjoy a special type of malted brew for breakfast called hefeweizen. So, to forget about beer as one of the key features of German culture just doesn’t sound right. Even if you don’t drink beer, ignoring or forgetting or not knowing what beer culture is like in Germany, again doesn’t sound right.

But what does sound right is getting familiar with Germany’s beer culture. That way you’re familiar with this country’s essential rules, quirky traditions, and must-do rituals when it comes to beer drinking and toasting.

Legal drinking age in Germany

  • Germans can drink beer and wine at the age of 14 with an adult's supervision.
  • Germans can buy and drink soft alcoholic beverages and wine at the age of 16 without an adult's supervision.
  • Germans are legally allowed to buy and drink beer, wine, and other distilled spirits at the age of 18 (Germany’s legal drinking age) without an adult's supervision.

Don’t drink Weizenbier or Weißbeer or Hefeweizen out of the bottle
You must never drink Weizenbier or Weißbeer or Hefeweizen out of a bottle. Instead, you must use the proper Weizenbier high glass. This type of glass should be narrow at the bottom and wide at the top, as this allows the yeast to spread and improve the overall taste of the beer.

Clinking glasses
When clinking glasses or making a toast, do not cross your arms with people. However, do make sure that you are making eye contact with the person you are clinking glasses with. If you fail to make good eye contact, a popular German legend has it that you will suffer seven years of bad luck.

Drinking and driving
It is important to remember that the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in Germany is lower than in North America, at 0.5 milligrams per ml of blood. Therefore, drinking a small sip of alcohol and driving a vehicle is definitely not advisable. Moreover, driving under the influence in Germany can have major consequences like getting a €500 fine. So, it’s probably best and safer for you and a lot of people out there to not drink and drive.

Access to alcohol
Beer is very much available all over Germany. But this access and availability is actually regulated by strict rules and regulations.

  • Minors are not allowed to buy and drink alcohol in public places, unless with adult supervision.
  • Customer IDs must be checked when purchasing alcohol.
  • Alcohol can only be purchased from Monday to Saturday from 6 am to 10 pm. But alcohol cannot be purchased on Sundays and or any public holidays.