Party Like A German – Bier und Schnaps

We Get the Perfect Glass of Beer

the pour black


The Maßkrug

The Maßkrug (pronounced ‘moss kroogh’ in English) is the Bavarian language word for a mug of beer. In modern times, a Maß is defined as exactly 1 litre, that’s 33.8 oz or just under 3 American bottles. It is made of double-walled dimpled glass, weighs in at around 2 lbs empty.  The glass extends about two inches above the liter line however to leave room for the head, allowing the release of the aroma of the Bier which is vital to taste!masskrug

“Ein Maß ” in English literally means “A measure,” in Munich you can order one at Oktoberfest just by saying “Ein Maß bitte”.

Proper Bier drinking etiquette at Oktoberfest requires that during particular songs, all glasses are raised and the song belted out. One of the most popular songs played at all the tents is the German classic “Ein Prosit”, which means in English, “A Toast!”

Please get to know these words…

“Ein Prosit”

   Ein Prosit, ein Prosit

   Der Gemütlichkeit.

   Ein Prosit, ein Prosit

   Der Gemütlichkeit.

   Oans, zwoa, drei, g’suffa!

Ein Prosit

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At the conclusion of the song, make sure to give your table mates a hearty “Prost!” and clink the bottom thicker part of your glass into theirs. No need to get crazy but these glasses can stand up to quite a bit. That’s not to say that I haven’t seen them break.

Zum Wohl!


Drinking Songs

ein prosit band

courtesy of Dave Clark Photography

“Ein Prosit”is one song you are absolutely guaranteed to hear at the Oktoberfest.  That’s because that bands in blurt it out every 20 minutes or so in an honest effort to help revelers get nice and lubricated.  And to remind them why they’re at the fest – for Gemütlichkeit!

You can’t translate Gemütlichkeit directly into English (it’s one of those uniquely German words.)  The best English translation is “coziness”or “good cheer”.  But Gemütlichkeit goes a step further and encapsulates a feeling of belonging, social acceptance and leaving your troubles at the door.

Whenever Ein Prosit is played you’re obliged to stand up with your beer in hand and sway along to the tune, toast with everyone at the table and chug.
Ein Prosit’s origins are murky. Though it’s difficult to pin down from where the song originally stems the modern version was composed by Gerhard Jussenhoven and Kurt Elliot in 1957.

At festivals the song is often followed by a charge of “Schenkt ein, trinkt aus, schenkt ein, trinkt aus!”(I gave you one, drink it up, I gave you one, drink it up!).  An alternative closing phrase from the band leader is “Prost ihr Säcke!” (Cheers, you bastards!), to which the crowd replies in unison “Prost du Sack!” (Cheers, you bastard!). Or another

Zicke, zacke, zicke, zacke,

hoi, hoi, hoi

Zicke, zacke, zicke, zacke,

hoi, hoi, hoi
*The H is pronounced.

A variant of this is „Zicke Zacke Hühnerkacke“ (Zickeh, Zackeh, Chickenkaka) this version was adopted from the name of a children’s boardgame that won Game of the Year in 1998.  Anyway, now you know more than Jimmy Kimmel.  His “ziggy socky, ziggy socky, oy oy oy!” is just bad pronunciation.

Bottom line…these are all German for “A toast, one, two, three, drink, cheers and a bunch of nonsensical sounds that might be shouted at a soccer game.  These songs are the sung every year at Oktoberfest in Anaheim and München.  Don’t worry. You can’t really get them wrong, because no one has ever sung them sober.



Schnaps is not Schnapps

shot shack 2

There are a few drinks associated with the fall that people turn to for celebrations, time and again. Large steins of body-heavy beer, is one common choice. Schnaps is also a fine beverage for autumn, but one that doesn’t get as much play here in the U.S. That’s because the German libation is often misunderstood ’round these parts,

In Germany the word Schnaps and refers to usually clear alcoholic beverages distilled from fermented cereals, roots or fruits, including cherries (Kirschwasser), apples, pears, peaches, plums and apricots.  True Schnaps has no sugar or flavouring added.

Schnaps is similar in flavour and consistency to vodka, with light fruit flavours, depending on the base material.  The alcohol content is usually around 40% by volume.

The word “Schnapps” is derived from the German word Schnaps but the International or American drink is made from neutral grain spirit mixed with flavoring and sugar to create a sweet, syrupy beverage. Think liqueur.

“The art of drinking schnaps”  is something you can perfect this Oktoberfest season.  In short, if you didn’t make the Munich beer halls this year, there will be a bit of the old country coming to Anaheim, for your chance to match the distilled libations with traditional German dishes.  Try a Kirschwasser with Black Forest ham or after a slice of Black Forest Cake. Or try a Doppelkorn, which has a higher alcohol content. In Berlin, it is traditionally drunk with knuckle of pork, and sauerkraut. Germany‘s best-known brandy, Asbach Uralt comes from the heart of Rüdesheim on the Rhein, where they serve coffee, flambéed with the brandy and whipped cream. It also makes an excellent iced coffee in summer.

Or simply schnaps is served ice-cold in small shots as part of a meal. Across Germany, it’s drunk neat, quickly and generally with a toast.  Prost!



The German “Beer Purity Law” (Reinheitsgebot

by The German Beer Institute

German beer labels always carry the inscription “Gebraut nach dem deutschen Reinheitsgebot” or “Gebraut nach dem Bayerischen Reinheitsgebot von 1516” (brewed according to the German Purity Law or the Bavarian Purity Law of 1516). This “beer purity” law is one of the most remarkable and perhaps most misunderstood pieces of legislation. The original law was a ducal decree issued on April 23, 1516, by the Bavarian co-rulers Duke Wilhelm IV and Duke Ludwig X. Initially only in feudal Bavaria, but later in all of Germany, the Reinheitsgebot gave government the tools to regulate the ingredients, processes and quality of beer sold to the public (and to levy taxes on beer!).

From 1516 to today – No chemical additives  

The Reinheitsgebot is the oldest, still valid food safety law in the world. The 1516 Reinheitsgebot simply stipulated that only barley, hops, and water may be used to make the brew. The existence of yeast had not yet been discovered. The intent of the law was to keep beer “pure” by feudal decree, that is, to keep cheap and often unhealthy ingredients — such as rushes, roots, mushrooms, and animals products — out of the people’s drink. In medieval times, brewers often used such ingredients to raise their profits by lowering their standards.

In modern times, the purity law is part of the German tax code. It states that, in bottom-fermented beers, that is, lagers, brewers may use only barley malt, hops, yeast and water. Specifically, this rule forbids the brewing in Germany of lagers containing spices (as do many Belgian beers), corn or rice (as do virtually all mass-produced industrial beers in the rest of the world), sugar (to be found in many Belgian and British beers), un-malted grains (required for many Belgian and British beer styles), as well as chemical additives and stabilizers. For ales, that is, for top-fermented beers, which hold about 10% of the German market, the Reinheitsgebot is somewhat more generous in terms of allowable ingredients, in part to accommodate an ancient and varied, mostly barley-based ale-brewing tradition in northern Germany, in part to accommodate the centuries-old, entirely wheat-based Weissbier (wheat beer) brewing tradition in Bavaria. German ales may contain — next to barley malt, hops, yeast, and water — “other” malted grains (including, of course, malted wheat for Weissbier), as well as various forms of sugar (derived cane or beet) and sugar-derived coloring agents — but still no chemicals or other processed compounds.

The significance of the Reinheitsgebot lies in the fact that German beer is all natural!

However, all good things must come to an end. International trade and the global economy have finally — after almost 500 years — got the better of the Reinheitsgebot. To the dismay of German brewers, the Reinheitsgebot, with its narrow selection of ingredients, was struck down by the European Court in 1987 — as a restraint of free trade. The restrictions it contained were held not permissible in the newly integrated European market. Since the ruling, it has been legal to import beers into Germany that are brewed with adjuncts (corn, rice, non-malted grains and sugar) and treated with chemicals for an artificial head and a longer shelf life.

Here’s to tradition!

German brewers, however, still adhere fiercely to the Reinheitsgebot as a matter of pride and tradition. German beer labels and advertisements still proudly proclaim the purity of the local brew, and many a German imbiber would not think of letting anything but a “pure” beer pass his or her lips.