Friday, September 16, 2011

How To Spot A Bavarian

When I was stationed in Augsburg, Germany, my friends and I would often spend our off days in Munich. It was only a 40- or 60-minute train ride away and there was a lot to see and do in and around the city. One of our favorite places to stop for a meal and some beer was the world-famous Hofbräuhaus.

One Spring afternoon, my friend, Tom, and I found ourselves at the Hofbräuhaus for lunch. It was early in the day, so the place was relatively empty. We ate by ourselves at one of the large tables in the back of the large room.

As we were enjoying our meal, a man came and sat with us. He introduced himself and told us he was an air traffic controller at one of the nearby Luftwaffe bases. He spoke English a lot better than we spoke German, and we found ourselves conversing in a mish-mash of the two languages.

As a topic of conversation, he mentioned he could readily tell if people were Bavarian or not. The trick, he said, was to "Prost" when someone at the table got their beer. This meant to hold up our beer mugs and shout "Prost" or "Cheers" to the other person. If they responded in kind and "clacked" their mugs against ours, that was a sure sign they were Bavarian.

After he told us this, a couple sat at our table. They looked a little out of place, glancing about like they were somewhat nervous in an unfamiliar environment. When their beer was delivered by the server, our new friend raised his mug and shouted "Prost." Tom and I followed his lead in kind. The couple stared at us like we were from Mars.

He asked the couple where they were from. It turned out they were visiting from Frankfurt. They were certainly not Bavarian.

A little while after that couple drank their beer and left, another couple with their teenage son took sat at our table. When they got their beer, we "Prosted" them. They looked a little taken aback, lifted their mugs and said "Cheers." They weren't Bavarians, but they got the idea. They were tourists visiting from Australia.

The next group was a bunch of young-ish looking people - perhaps college age. When we "Prosted" them, they got up and moved to another table. "They are not Bavarian," our new friend told us in a confident tone. He was probably right.

We sat around and talked for quite a while before the next group sat down. It was an older gentleman with a middle aged man and woman and a couple older kids; again, maybe college age. When they got their beer, the turned to us and shouted "Prost!" We three looked at each other and smiled. Yes, here were finally some Bavarian folk spending some time at the Hofbräuhaus. Our German friend queried the man where he was from, and the man replied that they were from a nearby town and had come to Munich to shop.

Our cultural lesson for the day was learned. We now knew how to tell if someone was Bavarian.


  1. Bavarians say "Gruss Gott;" Germans say "Guten Tag."

  2. Bavarians say "Gruss Gott;" Germans say "Guten Tag."

  3. That is very true. I remember first arriving at the Frankfurt Airport for my second tour in Germany making the mistake of saying "Gruess Gott" to the old man at the information desk. He shook his head a muttered something about "another 'Ami' speaking Bayrisch." Definitely a change in culture from southern Germany.