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Germany is world-renowned for its beer. Germans love their beer and going to Germany without trying German beer is like going to an aquarium without taking a look at the fish. Every street corner in Germany, it seems, has a drinking establishment and when you belly up to the bar, chances are good that you’ll be directly interacting with the owner. So now what? Here are some tips that will allow you to walk in with confidence and get what you want:

Tip: The German word for beer is bier. The pronunciation is the same as in English and, if you knew nothing else, you could walk into a bar and simply combine it with the German word for please (bitte, pronounced like the English word bitter, without the ‘r’) and you would get by. ‘Bier bitte!’ Remember these two words!

Tip: Most Germans speak English. English courses are a part of their basic education. However, even if luck is not on your side and you run into somebody who doesn’t speak a word of English, you always have ‘Bier bitte!’ to fall back on.

Tip: Every region of Germany has its own ‘local beer.’ If you want to try it, you don’t have to be specific. If you ask for a beer (‘Bier bitte!’), you’ll get the local brew. Most bars have a drink card, with prices and what beers they have out on tap (vom Fass) and in bottles (Flaschen).

Tip: In most bars, you pay for what you drink just before you leave. They’ll keep a running tab for you. Don’t worry about giving them a credit card to start the tab, most bars don’t take credit cards.

Tip: In the unlikely event that you do have to pay for drinks as you go and you order your drinks from the bar, tipping is optional. If you like the service, simply round up to the nearest DM (Deutsche Mark, the German currency). More is not expected.

Tip: When drinks and/or food are brought to your table, a tip of 5-10% is applied when you pay your bill (Rechnung). A 10% tip is very generous. 5 – 8% is more common. Those who wait on your tables do not count on receiving much in the way of tips, which is probably why service in German bars and restaurants is sometimes rather lacking.

Tip: If you meet some Germans and you are in a bar together, it is customary to wait until everyone in the group has a drink and there is a simple toast, before starting to drink. An easy way to say ‘cheers’ in Germany is by saying Prost ! (pronounced like roast with a ‘p’ in front of it).

Tip: If you took German in high school or watched the TV series Hogan’s Heroes regularly, you may have learned that single women and waitresses may be addressed as Fraulein. Wrong!. Although technically correct, you should eliminate this word from your vocabulary. That’s not how young women in Germany are addressed anymore and is a sure way to insult them. This is a fine example of how a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. Unless your German is good enough to properly call over a waitress, a polite wave of the hand is probably the best method available to you.

Tip: The German police set up road blocks at night (and sometimes during the day) to catch people driving under the influence. This is the only case where the phrase ‘Bier, bitte!’ will not help you.