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Ordnung Und Bier July 6, 2008

Posted by Dwight and Lynn Furrow in Culture, Dwight Furrow's Posts.
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My apologies for the lack of blog posts recently. A looming book deadline and a two-week vacation in Germany had me otherwise occupied.

 

Germany is a beautiful and interesting country—gorgeous countryside, impressive castles and churches that date back to the medieval period, and a 2000 year history well preserved in their museums.

 

But what Germans like to do most is party. Germany is awash in beer! In Munich at 10:00 A.M, during the week, every café or beer garden will be full of people indulging in their late morning snack—weisswurst ( a veal sausage) and weissbier (a wheat beer, also called hefeweizen). And a 2000 year history provides them with endless opportunities for anniversaries that require celebration. Every city we visited seemed to have an anniversary celebration in their city squares, which were closed to traffic and lined with booths selling—well, more beer.

 

Our visit coincided with the European soccer championships that they take very seriously and provide an additional excuse for more parties. Imagine the atmosphere of the Super Bowl, except there is a game every 2 or 3 days. So every 2 or 3 days is an occasion for much of the population to gather in brew houses with high definition TV and—drink more beer.

 

The primary function of beer is to wash down huge portions of as many kinds of animal fats as will fit on one plate. Of course, fat is where the flavor is so the food is delicious and well prepared. (I highly recommend the pig’s knuckle and the boiled beef with horseradish sauce.) But occasionally we had to seek refuge from the lipids in an Italian or Turkish restaurant. (There are many ethnic restaurants in Germany).

 

Despite the calories they consume, we saw few excessively overweight people. That is probably because there is seldom parking to be found, so any trip requires a good walk.

 

Of course, we were traveling with beer connoisseurs on a mission (at one point I think we visited 4 brew houses in 2 hours in search of the perfect pils) so perhaps the population we sampled was heavily biased. But the beer culture there is truly impressive.

 

We caught a break from the beer in Germany’s wine country. I have always enjoyed the countryside in the Napa Valley but it does not compare to the Rhine River Valley—miles of hillsides covered with grapes, gently sloping to the river’s edge, and dotted with medieval castles and quaint villages. The boat trip down the Rhine sipping a fine Reisling spatlese (yes beer was available as well) was one of the highlights of the trip.

 

One winery we visited (in Franconia) was located in a hospital! As you enter the lobby of the hospital, the first thing to draw your attention is a display in the center of the room advertising the wines available that season. Somehow, I cannot picture that display in the United States.

 

With all the drinking and celebration, you would think public intoxication would be a problem. But not so.  Despite the thousands of people milling about drinking beer at the anniversary celebrations, and after the soccer games when they were quite rowdy but not at all violent or destructive, we very seldom saw any police. In fact we went days without seeing a cop.

 

Germany’s reputation for order is well deserved. Even their drunks are well-behaved.

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Comments»

1. Paul Moloney - July 9, 2008

If a person only gets drunk to be unreasonable to someone then it is always unreasonable to get drunk. Those, then, that get drunk were unreasonable before they even got drunk, as their getting drunk was based on their unreasonableness. Having too much to drink, though, is not the same as getting drunk. People who have too much to drink can have had no intention of getting drunk. While drinking, the power of judgment can be diminished. One may not know they have had too much to drink until they have had too much too drink. The drunk, on the other hand intentionally drinks too much or too fast until they are drunk.

It may be impossible not to drink too much from time to time, but it would always seem possible not to get drunk. People drink too much while under the influence, while the drunk decides to get drunk before having had anything to drink.

It would also seem that one could drink something like beer all day without having too much to drink. It depends on how one drinks. One can drink everyday without being an alcoholic. I would think that one is alcoholic according to how unreasonable they are to others because of their drinking. Drinking can be conducive to being reasonable and it can also be conducive to be unreasonable. It seems to me, a gross generality, that Americans bring too much anger to their drinking. Drinking can calm us and make us less prone to anger or it can incite anger by removing inhibitions to anger.

I like Sartre, whether I agree with him or not, simply because of his visits to the cafe in Paris, which indicates how one’s drink can influence one’s philosophy.

2. Nina - July 9, 2008

Welcome back, Dwight! The best beer I ever had was in Stuttgart; it was on tap, and it took them 14 minutes to pour it…somehow J.S. Mill’s definition of higher pleasures seemed appropriate in that context!

3. Dwight Furrow - July 13, 2008

Nina,

We searched high and low for a brewhaus to serve pilsner properly, with a very slow pour to properly develop the head. We found some good beer but none served in the traditional style. But we passed by Stuttgart, visiting Munich, Rudesheim, Trier, Dusseldorf, Mainz, Cologne, and Bamberg instead. I guess that was a mistake.

We were told that many traditional brewing and drinking practices were going out of style in Germany. Some brewers are now adding fruit to their beer–sacrilegisch!

4. forrest noble - July 25, 2008

Dwight,

My kinda traveling indeed. Beautiful sights, singing and philosophy in the bars with the locals.

your friend forrest


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