11 January 2011

Mugs, Memories, and Munich

Maggie and I have returned to Waidhofen and my travels sadly are over.  Fortunately this means that I can devote more time to blogging.  Although I doubt I'll ever be able to describe all of the places I visited, I'll start with one of my favorites - Munich.

On a edutaining tour of the city, I learned that that everything in Munich is somehow related to beer consumption - from the famous Rathaus Glockenspiel (recently voted the second most overrated tourist attraction in Europe) to the city's oldest church (reconstructed after WWII with beer proceeds). Our tour guide also informed us of a beer-themed tour taking place that evening that promised to be less "edu" and more "taining."

Holding a Maß by the handle is only
appropriate for toasting.  In all other cases
it is taken as a sign of weakness.
At the beginning of the Munich beer tour I was very interested in learning more about Bavarian beer culture, although I must admit I became less and less diligent about collecting and retaining facts and even memories as we progressed from pub to pub.  One of the most interesting pieces of information that I did retain was the proper way to hold a giant one liter mug of beer, called a Maß (see right).  The handles attached to the mug are meant only to prevent finger-crushing collisions during a toast.  Outside of toasting, you're meant to hold these beers as you would a handle-less mug, with your hand directly on the glass.  Although this hand-to-glass contact might theoretically warm your beer, showing concern about your drink's temperature indicates to Bavarians that you are not drinking fast enough.   

This glorified pub crawl resulted in a number of great photos - some more compromising than others - on my mother's camera that I promise to post if she emails to me.

Another fact I retained from the beer tour is today's vocabulary offering - Reinheitsgebot.  It means "purity law" and it refers to a long-standing rule that all beer in Germany be made of only three ingredients - water, barley, and hops (and yeast, once it was discovered).  It is largely responsible for the lack of variety but abundance in quality of German beer, especially compared with the US.  Although it is no longer on the books due to whiny Dutch competitors, many German brewers still abide by it. Our beer guide informed us that this level of purity protects Bavarian beer consumers from hangovers - something that, through research, I have proven false.

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