There’s this old joke I’ve heard at least four times now. A Bavarian walks into a bar in Köln and orders a beer. They bring him a glass. He quaffs it immediately, wipes his chin and says, “Okay, I’ll have one.”
This joke is very fun, but if you have not been here, it will be rather non-sensical.
But the Bavarians in the house know what I’m talking about. Bavaria, which I’ve heard compared to Texas on various occasions, likes beer. Likes big beers, and loud clangy halls and other things. The typical stein/glass/mug served is between .5L to 1L complete. This is the image I had in mind when I moved to Germany.
Then I arrived in Bonn and found people sipping beer, pinkies aloft, fingers wrapped around a .2L kiddie glass of watery, golden Kölsch.
I was certain that Germans loved beer and the people on the Rhine seemed no different. But if you love beer so much, why the tiny glasses?
It makes sense and if you have enough of them with friends, they’ll be sure to explain it to you even though they explained it the last time. You see, those dirty old Bavarians might like big beers and think that’s great and fine and all, but by the time you get down to the bottom of that gigantic glug, you generally have skunky beer that’s lost a lot of its appeal.
But if you serve beer in tiny glasses it goes down quicker and never gets gross – until you realize that you just drank four liters in total and you are the one who is skunky.
*It should also be noted that professional Kölsch slingers pass by your table at regular intervals with fresh glasses on circular platters with a center handle. They quickly and efficiently remove empties, place new glasses and make hash marks on your coaster noting how many you’ve had. Be sure you tell them when you’re done, lest you end up with another glass on hand. Then at the end of the night, ask for your bill and your waiter will pull out a leather wallet filled with change, glance thoughtfully to the ceiling figuring your total and hand you a few coins.