Tag Archives: Beer

American Man Accidentally Buys 10 Liters of Beer in Germany

ratskrone-beer-case-container-germany

This is a “Bierkasten,” which translates to “beer box,” or “giant container full of wonderful things.”

My wife is a Gymnasium teacher here in Hannover, Germany, which means she gets 6 weeks off work each summer. So, to celebrate the beginning of her summer break this year — and also our recent move from a horrible apartment in the city into a wonderful new house in the suburbs — my German wife decided to host a small BBQ in our back yard. She invited 4 or 5 of her co-workers and promptly sent me to the local Edeka supermarket to buy beer.

She asked me to bring home exactly “3 six-packs of Ratskrone pilsner,” and she asked me to do this because one can buy Ratskrone (like most German beers) in half liter bottles. But unlike most German beers, you can score a sixer of this shit for like 2 euros. That’s cheap as balls, even by American standards. So I grabbed one of the trolley suitcases we use to carry groceries and shagged ass to the store.

ratskrone-beer-close-up-label-germany

“I’m coming for you, my little golden children!”

Once there, I grabbed a shopping cart and beelined it for the hooch aisle. Of course there was only 1 six pack of Ratskrone left. How could a simple errand in Germany ever go wrong? Luckily, the clerk — a friendly young man wearing a beer-stained apron — was stocking the shelves nearby, so I approached and did my best to speak German with him:

ME: “Excuse me please. Do you have more of these things? These large… six bottles of Ratskrone beer?”

CLERK: “Uh, let me ask.” (He walked into the storage room and yelled a question to his boss, who then yelled something in return.)

CLERK: “Sorry, we’re all out, but we do have these…” (He said, pointing to a big plastic carton full of individual Ratskrone bottles. NOTE: These cartons hold 20 bottles of beer — 10 liters total — and in Germany, everyone knows who buys them: college students about to get obliterated.)

ME: “Oh. Have these bottles the exact same prices?”

At this point, the clerk walked back and forth between the six pack aisle and the carton aisle, explaining to me the price difference in lightspeed German. I nodded as if I’d understood a goddamn thing he said, thanked him for the help and proceeded to calculate the logistics on my own.

ratskrone-beer-with-kasten-germany

Pictured: “beer math.”

The Wife asked me to buy 3 six packs, I thought to myself. That’s 18 half liter bottles no matter how you count them. I’ll just get these loose sons of bitches instead.

So I put the six pack back on the shelf and placed 18 individual bottles in my shopping cart. Then, I remembered you can buy an entire plastic carton full — 20 half liter bottles — and you get a better deal, so I grabbed an extra two bottles to make it an even 20. That’s when I realized, Shit, the chick at the cash register will think I just want 20 loose beers and forget to give me the sweet carton discount, and there is no way in hell I’m going to be able to clarify my intentions in German.

So, I placed all 20 beers back in the carton, lifted the entire carton into my shopping cart, and went to the cash register. The cashier — a kind, nerdy little woman with glasses — scanned one of the beers and rang them all up. What follows is our conversation, if you were to translate everything directly into German:

CASHIER: “That will be 9.59 euros with refund, please.”

ME: “Okay. Must I take this plastic thing with me?” (I asked, pointing to the container.)

CASHIER: “Uh, no, you don’t have to… but you won’t get your carton refund back.”

ME: (Looking very confused.) “May I not, right now, this plastic thing give back?”

CASHIER: “Well, when you return the glass bottles, you will get your refund back on those, but if you don’t bring them back with the container, you will lose the container refund.”

ME: “I am very sorry, but I am, at this very moment, learning German.”

CASHIER: “Oh, no problem,” (she said, continuing to speak German, only now leaning forward and pointing to things on the receipt.) See, here is the bottle refund, and right here is the container refund…”

ME: “Right, but can I not, exactly now, return the container and get money?”

CASHIER: (Thinking for a moment…) “Oh, I understand. Let me ask my manager.”

The cashier hollered some German words over the PA system and then sat there, waiting, while the rest of the people in line glared at me. The manager appeared — a very thick, very bleach blonde woman — and listened as the cashier explained my intentions:

CASHIER: “This customer does not want the plastic container. Can we just ring everything up again and give him the container refund back?”

MANAGER: “No.” (Then, speaking directly to me…) “You must return the container with the bottles in order to receive the container refund.”

ME: “May I do this right now?”

MANAGER & CASHIER: (Speaking in unison–) “No.

ME: “I do not understand correctly. Must I first exit this food store, walk through this food store, and then give back the container?”

MANAGER: “The container must be filled with empty bottles of this exact type of beer. Otherwise, we cannot be sure you bought them here.”

ME: (About ready to cry…) “Should I just have purchased 20 bottles of beer without the container?”

MANAGER: “No no, this way is cheaper.”

Having recognized the word “cheaper,” I nodded my understanding vigorously, apologized to everyone like a repentant criminal, stuffed the receipt in my pocket and took off. Once outside, I placed the bottles inside the luggage trolley and walked home with the empty beer carton swinging in my hand, letting every single one of our new neighbors know my wife and I spend our Tuesday evenings consuming lethal amounts of beer.

“Hey there, Günter! How you doin’? Yep, the Missus and I are about to go on a real hellbender. You’ve still got that ambulance on speed dial, right? Har har! See you in church!”

empty-beer-bottles-case-germany-ratskrone

Score one for America.

To read more of my emotionally scarring adventures in Germany, please check out my other Culture Shock posts.

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The 2013 Oktoberfest in Hannover, Germany – As Experienced by An American Expat and His German Wife

Hannover Oktoberfest Ride 2013

“How do you say, ‘Stop the ride, I’m gonna hurl’ in German?” — Photo by Kai Nehm (http://www.flickr.com/photos/trau_kainehm/)

You know us: I am an American expat, my wife is a wacky German, and together we live in Hannover, Germany. Once again, we ventured to the Hannover Oktoberfest at the Schützenplatz fair grounds. This year, we rode all the rides, listened to all the music, ate all the food and drank all the beer. ALL OF IT. We also filmed the entire thing, so you can experience it with us! Check out the video below:

WARNING: Video contains a few F-bombs and some other swear words. (And screaming. Lots of screaming. From me, a full-grown man.)

Would you like to see another one of our videos? Check out our trip to the “Hannover Adventure Zoo.”

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The 2013 Hannover Maschseefest – As Experienced by an American Expat in Germany

hannover maschsee lion sculpture night

“Go home American. You are drunk.”

The Hannover Maschseefest is a big celebration occurring every year between July 31 and August 18. It is a massive gathering of beer gardens, food stands and concert stages around the man-made lake known as the Maschsee. The Wife and I visited the 2013 Maschseefest several times, and we learned there are exactly 3 things to do there: eat, drink and listen to music until you are bleeding from every orifice.

In the following video, you will see a young Hannover-based band called That’s Why playing an acoustic version of Johhny B. Goode. These guys are awesome; they’re talented, they have stage presence and enough energy between them to power a nuclear submarine. One guy even played a melodica. (What’s it really called? A pianica? Key-flute? Blow-organ? …because all these names sound incredibly porno…) Anyway, he stands up and plays this wacky thing on his buddy’s back (which also seemed rather porno), and that’s when I decided this band was goin’ places. In fact, I predict you’ll see these handsome bastards in an American music video with a hit single before the end of 2015. Just you wait.

In this video, you’ll also see members of the Hannover DLRG (German Life Saving Association, which teaches search and rescue stuff, swimming classes and First Aid, among other things) floating down the Maschsee, eating and drinking as if they aren’t wading ankle-deep in goose shit. The Maschsee is just filthy; you’d think a bunch of trained First Aid volunteers would promote their organization with a little more respect for fecal-borne pathogens. But seriously, God bless ‘em for all the lifesaving work they do.

Finally, you’ll see a band performing at the Löwenbastion called Die Rexis und das Polyester Orchester, and they are exactly what you would expect from a band named after stretchy grandma pants.

This next video was recorded a few weeks later, on the last day of the Maschseefest. In it, you will see the Blaue Jungs Bolzum Shantychor Fankurve, which is an exhausting way of saying the All-Male Hamburg Pirate Choir. (Just kidding. They’re not really pirates.) As these gentlemen sing ditties of sailing woe, everyone in the crowd starts swaying in what is known in Germany as ‘Schunkeln.’ (You can see similar behavior in our Hannover Oktoberfest videos.)

And finally, here are a few terrible photos with comments. Click one to start the gallery, and as always, we hope you can dig ‘em!

For more information on the annual Maschseefest, check out http://www.hannover.de/Maschseefest/

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Denglish 85: My Wife Reveals A Uniquely German Expression for Beverages of Extremely High Alcohol Content

The night I asked The Wife to marry me — after getting down on one knee, offering her a diamond ring and giving her a picture I drew of a squirrel (seriously) — I took her to the Rose and Thistle Pub in northeast Portland. There, we sent text messages to all of our friends and family members announcing our engagement.

Cute squirrel holding diamond engagement ring

How a ring-carrying squirrel goes from idea to reality.

We also ordered beer, and if you know much about Portland, you know it is the Microbrew Beer Capitol of the United States. (And with this in mind, I once suggested to my German class teacher here in Hannover that the US actually produces good beer. He rolled his eyes, because Germans think we only drink Budweiser and Coors Light. I laughed and played along, but inside I was seeing red, thinking, ‘Oh you poor, naive little man. You don’t even know. You don’t even KNOW,’ and then I used my telepathic powers to make his giant German head explode.)

Anyway, Portland beer is awesome, and it is often quite strong. There are all sorts of ways to discuss drinks with high alcohol content, but translating these idioms directly from German into English is easily the most entertaining. So, as we looked over the menu, my German wife announced:

THE WIFE: “I want a beer, but I don’t want something that pulls my sock off.”

Click here to learn more about the term “Denglish.”

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Pictures: Expat Couple Visits St. Pauli’s Red Light District in Hamburg, Germany

20-shipyards-of-hamburg-germany

Welcome to the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, the second largest city in Germany, where you can legally pay someone to touch your pork roll.

On March 23rd, 2013, The Wife and I took a day trip to Hamburg. We rode the Metronome (or “slow train,” as we affectionately refer to it) north for about one hour, changed lines in Uelzen, then rode another hour to Hamburg.

When we first arrived, I was struck by the extent to which Hamburg reminded me of Seattle. It was beautiful, with a lively and colorful bay rife with wide-eyed tourists staggered about in circles. However, where Seattle has hills and skyscrapers, Hamburg has cargo cranes and a world-famous red light district. The red light district surrounds the street called Reeperbahn, which runs right through the St. Pauli quarter of the city. St. Pauli used to make me think of St. Pauli Girl beer (which is actually brewed in Bremen). Now, Saint Pauli makes me think of a slightly intimidating neighborhood where a couple of euros gets your bone smooched.

The Red Light District of St. Pauli is best seen at night, or so I was advised, enthusiastically, by the German guy I spoke with at the Restaurant Fischerhaus. Sure enough, there were neon signs and crazy porno storefronts everywhere, so I imagine the effect at night would be much like that of the Las Vegas Strip, where my every sense is subjected to a spectacular display of Shock and Awe. And much like the Las Vegas Strip, I wanted to spend just enough time on Reeperbahn street to have a beer, take a few pictures and get the hell out of there before shit got weird.

Here are our pictures. We hope you can dig ‘em!

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Video: Oktoberfest 2012 – Our First Encounter with a German-Speaking Werewolf

This is a video I recorded shortly after we arrived at the Hannover Oktoberfest. It features a haunted house ride, at the top of which is a giant, talking werewolf.

I was entranced by the way his animatronic mouth kept opening and closing. It was hypnotic, especially because he was speaking German with some kind of ghoulish, Transylvanian accent. I don’t think Germans fully appreciate the menace their language can inflict upon American ears. There’s nothing else like it; when Americans hear a few harshly spoken German words, we know something really bad is about to happen.

But don’t get me wrong; everything about my wife is beautiful — her country, her culture… everything. It’s just that her native tongue is the Grammy Award-winning soundtrack of my nightmares.

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Pictures: Oktoberfest 2012 – Hannover, Germany

This was the view as we approached the Oktoberfest fairgrounds. I was so excited I had to go pee pee behind that tree on the left.

This was the view as we approached the Oktoberfest fairgrounds. I was so excited I had to go pee pee behind that tree on the left.

In Hannover, Oktoberfest takes place at the Schützenplatz, which is an open area directly across from the AWD Arena (home of the Hannover 96 soccer team, and yeah, you heard me right, I just called it ‘soccer’). This year, Oktoberfest ran from September 28th until October 14th, and yet The Wife and I almost missed it! We kept meaning to check it out, but (my wife) couldn’t seem to find the time. I finally jogged past the fairgrounds one morning and noticed it would only be open for one more weekend. That’s when I finally convinced my wife we had to go.

“I ran past Oktoberfest this morning and there’s only one weekend left!” I exclaimed. “There were tons of beer tents in there! They even had roller coasters with Germans on them! Screaming Germans! I need this, honey. I need it so bad.

The Wife relented and we experienced our very first Hannover Oktoberfest together. It was AWESOME.

Here are the pictures we took that night. I’m sorry there aren’t more; I was too busy experiencing pure, unadulterated joy.

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