“Bicycle wanderer red-wine route.” Paths that not only take you from town to town the pretty way, through medieval villages and farmers’ fields and along rivers, but past restaurants offering, in this case, red wines. Just follow the signs. Maps are unnecessary.

(ROTE vine   ROD vonder ah   ROUTE ah.)


Another weird Wagnerian word. It’s translated as “relief” in the libretto. Sieglinde “labt” Siegmund many times with mead in Act 1, Scene 1, of Walküre.

(LOB oong.)

Seinen Mann stehen

Stand your man,” but it means buying your round in the pub.

(ZYE nen   MONN   shtay hen.)


Barrel poke,” “barrel sting.” When a Bavarian politician ceremoniously taps a large barrel of beer with as few hammer blows as possible to open Oktoberfest. The traditional 1-liter glass of beer will cost up to 9.5 euros at this year’s Oktoberfest.

(FOSS on shtick.)

hohes Tier

“High animal.” Someone with an important job. Helmut Roewer, for example, the now-retired president of Thuringian Verfassungsschutz from 1994 to 2000. Spiegel-Online says his interests were “Wine, Women and Verfassungsschutz.” Apparently Roewer was difficult to work with or manage. According to the “Wine, Women” article, none of the responsible people can now remember appointing him to his post, and Roewer says he doesn’t recall who handed him the written appointment because he was drunk at the time.

Update on 04 Oct. 2012: Helmut Roewer has written a memoir, and Der Spiegel had to read it. “Roewer, who is considered vain and erratic, sees himself as a mover and a shaker.” Originally, Roewer was a West German lawyer. Spiegel calls his book “280 pages of justifications and assigning blame.”

(HO ess TEER.)


“Beer corpse.” A temporary condition induced by Oktoberfests, Schützenfests, Kirmess fairs, Kirschenfests, Leinenweberfests, Mandelblütenfests… People who have transitioned into the “beer corpse” state have to be carried to a special tent.

(BEER like ah.)


Low-quality moonshine. Also: airplane fuel.

(FOO zill.)


Bad beer or wine. Nasty brew. Swill, dishwater, gnat’s pizzle, camel micturation, acid rain.

(PLERR ah.)


Fusty, frowsty, moldy, muggy, musty, unventilated; in the case of beer, skunky beer.

(MEFF ick.)


“Off stood.” Beer in glasses that has stood around for too long. Its foamy top has begun to subside!

(OB geh STOND en.)

Helmut Kohl, Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin walk into a bar at Camp David

It’s a poolside bar. Bill Clinton says, “Here at Camp David we have a magic swimming pool. You run to the end of the diving board, leap high into the air, and call out the name of your favorite drink.” Bill Clinton demonstrates, calling “Whiskey!” as he catapults into the air. The entire pool turns into whiskey. Much fun ensues. Boris Yeltsin climbs unsteadily but determinedly up the diving board ladder, leaps, and yells, “Vodka!” The entire pool turns into vodka. Then it’s Helmut Kohl’s turn. He puffs even more slowly up the ladder, thinks, carefully jumps, and says, “Pilsner!” All the water disappears from the pool, and there’s a nasty incident. Bill Clinton turns to Boris Yeltsin and says, “Doesn’t everyone know it takes ten minutes to draw a good pilsner?”

die Blume auf dem Bier

“The blossom on the beer.” The foam atop, which should be at least 2 cm high. This is why it takes 10 minutes to draw a pilsner. Once in the glass, beer must be served quickly in German bars or its blossom will noticeably wilt.

(Dee BLOOM eh ow! f dame BEER.)


A dachshund that likes beer.

(BEER dackle.)


The paper mat your beer glass is set on. Used to be your bar bill. In the old days, not too long ago, your tab was kept on that coaster by a series of coded tally marks. One tick mark = the beer unit you’d get if you caught the bartender’s eye and pointed at the ceiling.

(BEER deckle.)


The tap system through which beer travels from chilled kegs into glasses. These lines are steam-sterilized every night in good bars.

(TSOPF on log eh.)

ein gepflegtes Bier

A “cared-for” beer, meaning a decent one. Pukka. Used to describe a very acceptable draft, properly served.

(Eye n geh FLAKE tess beer.)


“Drinkingly solid.” Able to hold your beer while keeping up with the group. Not like frat boys, but paced because you are going to be drinking and discussing for two or three days, more if it’s Karneval.

(TRINK fest.)


An old-fashioned bottle closure made of wire, ceramic and a rubber seal. Makes a “foop” sound when opened. Flensburger is a well-known beer sold in these bottles.

(B EW! gull flosh ah.)


“Turning in.” Tourists walking through hilly old towns occasionally turn aside from their path and enter cafés, pubs and beergardens for a little light refreshment. Sometimes every 30 meters.

(EYE n care en.)


“Preglowing,” “preheating,” “pre-ignition.” Predrinking, pregaming. The party before the party.

(FORE glue en.)


“Mood cannon.” Someone who tends to be the life and soul of the party, reliably so. Often a female pub owner. Ina Müller‘s talk show is based on such a character.

(SHTIM oongs kah KNOWN ah.)


“Unleaded.” Alcohol-free beer.

(BLY fry.)

Blau machen

“Making blue,” i.e. drinking. Also playing hooky. In the Middle Ages, making blue dye required lots of urine, hence the term.

(Bl OW! mack en.)

Saufen wie die Stiere

Drinking like bulls.

(ZOW fen vee dee SHTEER ah.)

Saufen wie ein Loch

Drinking like a hole in the ground.

(ZOW fen vee eye n LOCK.)



(ZOW fen.)

Kinder und Besoffene sagen die Wahrheit

“Children and drunk people speak the truth.”

(Kinder oont bahZOFF en ah zog en dee VAR height.)

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