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Germany's Iconic Beer Halls in Trouble...

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Oct 7th, 2018, 09:31 AM
  #1
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Germany's Iconic Beer Halls in Trouble...

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/06/w...eer-halls.html

Interesting story in today's NYTimes are the fate of Germany's iconic beer halls and how more and more are closing due to an aging clientele and changes in food tastes, etc. But such a change - much like traditional British pubs dying out and wine bars and such on surge - the German beer hall especially for small towns is much more than a place to eat downhome German food and quaff beer but also a social center for all ages.

One of the joys of traveling in Germany for me was going to these beer halls - eating cheap food and listening to the ubiquitous oompah band and often talking to locals.

Anyway to me doing a German beer hall or outdoor beer garden is a must IMO for anyone traveling in Germany.
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Oct 7th, 2018, 10:53 AM
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Another article that shows how Americans believe that Bavaria = Germany. Ditto for your "oompah bands". No German wants oompah bands in their local watering hole, and certainly not outside Bavaria.

The term "beer hall" (in German translation) is not used anywhere outside the Munich area. A place named "Bierhalle" would indicate a lowest-key meeting place for the local drunkards without the slightest bit of flair, nowhere you'd want to spend an evening. We'd talk about a "Kneipe", "Lokal" or "Gaststätte" which I'd rather translate as "pub" or "inn".

Many businesses have the problem that when the old owner retires and their search for a successor has not been successful. I have no idea where the "crisis" is supposed to be. The old dusty rural pubs and restaurants with shabby 1970s furniture, a menu with nothing but meat dishes and a kitchen without herbs and spices will have to adjust a bit to the tastes of nowadays' people. Some have missed the train, so to say. They are the ones who are struggling.

You will certainly find your places to go for a beer during your future trips.
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Oct 7th, 2018, 11:12 AM
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Wow - no oomph bands outside Munich! The article did not mention oompah bands but I guess my visits to Munich and Oktoberfest led me to believe this was a German tradition. Thanks for the insight on that!

Do female servers in a Lokal or Gasttatte wear dirndls? Or is that too only a Bavarian thing?
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Oct 7th, 2018, 11:30 AM
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I'm sorry, but the LAST thing I go to Munich for is those bands.
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Oct 7th, 2018, 12:19 PM
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Pal -- is that the third NYT article you've posted today? You need to get out more.
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Oct 7th, 2018, 01:19 PM
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jan - I'd like too but I have a debilitating condition that currently precludes that so I stay in a lot and post things of general interest. Have anything against that? Cheers!
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Oct 7th, 2018, 01:37 PM
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On our trip last year (Sept. 2017), we went to a handful of various beer gardens and beer halls and never once came upon oompah bands, thankfully. We were not there during Oktoberfest, so not sure if that made any difference. All I know is each place we went had a nice mix of ages and we had a nice time.
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Oct 7th, 2018, 01:42 PM
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I think I went to one place with an oompah band and that was one too many. And I picked seats as far away from the band as possible. Can’t imagine locals go to places like that. And there’s no shortage of traditional food, beer hall or no—although, again, do locals go out for that much? I’m trying to remember the last time I went out for Dungeness crab or salmon. And I can buy local beer at the supermarket.

are British pubs really dying out? Because there seemed to be one in every town in the UK. More than one. And most of them I wouldn’t describe as stellar.
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Oct 7th, 2018, 01:55 PM
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Yes Britain is losing the traditional British pub at an astounding rate of 29 a week! For various reasons:

https://money.cnn.com/2015/08/14/new...hol/index.html

Last edited by PalenQ; Oct 7th, 2018 at 01:58 PM.
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Oct 7th, 2018, 02:23 PM
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Originally Posted by PalenQ View Post
Yes Britain is losing the traditional British pub at an astounding rate of 29 a week! For various reasons:

https://money.cnn.com/2015/08/14/new...hol/index.html
Palen, that’s from 3 years ago. And it admits it’s numbers aren’t accurate.

that’s like saying dive bars are closing across America because real breweries are increasingly popular and putting the bars that only have bud light on tap out of business. (Which I’ve actually heard people say. But no one is crying over those dive bars except the cheap drunks).
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Oct 7th, 2018, 02:59 PM
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Well 17 closed a week last quarter of 2017:

https://www.bbc.com/news/business-43492043

Now I am not in a position like you to observe this trend but aren't pubs in small towns closing as populace ages and young folk go away or have tastes more for wine bars, etc.

again not disputing you and your categorizatiion of types of pubs that close - I always loved the traditional British pub and I hope as you say they are not a dying breed outside of large cities.
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Oct 7th, 2018, 03:12 PM
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They did that in Bamford, UK. My friend who lives north of London said they were thinking of doing the same in their village. The owner was wanting to retire. She can walk and take a dog for a pint in the evening. DUI laws have become so strict that people have stopped the nightly pub visit for a couple of drinks if driving.

I am sorry you are not feeling well Pal. It has to be hard for you not being able to travel. I have read my allotment for NYT this month so this was a free read.

We only ever hear the oompah bands at Hofbrau and Oktoberfest. We love Augustiner and can't remember hearing an oompah band there. In Stuggart at their Oktoberfest, they had bands that played country music, Neil Diamond and a lot of Abba.
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Oct 7th, 2018, 03:22 PM
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Thanks Macross - even at Oktober Fest the oompah bands would sing pop music - I even heard the Notre Dame fight song - but I do like the old oompah band classics like 'there is not beer in heaven ....that's why we're all hear!'
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Oct 7th, 2018, 04:31 PM
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Originally Posted by PalenQ View Post
Well 17 closed a week last quarter of 2017:

https://www.bbc.com/news/business-43492043

Now I am not in a position like you to observe this trend but aren't pubs in small towns closing as populace ages and young folk go away or have tastes more for wine bars, etc.

again not disputing you and your categorizatiion of types of pubs that close - I always loved the traditional British pub and I hope as you say they are not a dying breed outside of large cities.
Ha. Well. Since I’m procrastinating, I’ll humor you.

well, in the case of both articles, the numbers are kind of useless, because it’s very, very generalized.

in the case if your “beer hall” article—you realize they aren’t talking about a beer garden or what you’re thinking of in Munich. The specific example they’re talking about is a small town, long time establishment. Probably the only place in town large enough, and cheap enough, for, say, a big multi generational birthday party. It’s nostalgia keeping it open, not actual money making. I don’t mean now, even, I mean for the last 30 years. Like someone else said, 1970s furnishings, and (probably) what made it “special” was that old guy who just died, and his equally ancient buddies in the corner, talking about...whatever old German rural dudes talk about. Wheat prices? The snow forecast? Fire season? My grandpa’s favorite tavern is like that. Last I heard the owner is in long term care. You don’t go there for the ambiance, and the food is “fresh” in the sense it freshly came out of the freezer or a can onto the grill. You go there because it was your grandparents tradition to get pancakes there on holidays or a burger after a basketball game. My uncles still live in the area, and if some kind of co-op was established, they’d buy a share, sure, but even they aren’t “regulars”. It’s not necessarily that my generation is into wine bars, it’s just that the social life isn’t centered around the grange or the bowling alley or whatever. We work different hours, we buy beer at the supermarket two towns over, whatever. The kind of bar that German co-op is—they’re in small towns all over the place. And they might be dying because the town is dying but usually they’re just dying because they’re fossils. I mean, let’s say that the hypothetical niece of the old codger decides to keep the bar going—well, she can either take down the moth eaten deer head, revamp the menu, renovate the bathrooms, and possibly make the rent, or she can do what the people in that German town did—preserve it. No one wants to be the person to toss the deer head in the dumpster, but hey, it probably needs to happen.

In the case of the British article, I’m willing to bet it’s a lot of things. The above, the economy (a lot of my friends don’t go out to drink period simply because of COL. Seriously, no wine bars.)

But I will say a small part—depending on where you live—is the wine bar phenomenon. If I’m going out to eat, it’s not going to be the local dive bar or chain restaurant for a burger and a bud light. My contemporaries do seem to care a lot more about what’s in their food and where it comes from. And I’d also hazard a guess that there is a generational divide when it comes to weddings, or birthday parties or whatever. Of my dozen cousins, only one had what my grandparents would consider a normal—I.e. local, potluck—wedding. Others had destination, catered, instagrammable weddings. Even if they still lived in town—a lot of their friends are from college, not high school.


The good bars—the ones that revamp their menus, draw in new business, have local beers on tap—those survive. So I’m not saying that all bars that close down are fossils, but many, many of them are like the bar in the German article. I think it’s kind of neat it’ll survive, but I also think someone probably should have put the hypothetical moth eaten deer head out of its misery. Bet you there’s a good portion of the town who are thinking “darn, I was really looking forward to that Asian restaurant.”
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Oct 7th, 2018, 04:58 PM
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Marvelousmouse - wow thanks for humoring me with such a great observation of current status of traditional British pubs

One question though what does COL mean in the following:

n the case of the British article, I’m willing to bet it’s a lot of things. The above, the economy (a lot of my friends don’t go out to drink period simply because of COL. )

too expensive? The BBC article I believe or the other one did say sales of beer and wines in stores and drinking at home is increasing. And at the Rovers' on Coronation Street. my single favorite TV show to watch here on Canadian CBC - which we in Detroit area get with our cable package- anyway the amount folks on the Street drink at home and also at their local traditional pub and local wine bar astounds me me -seeming to be outrageously high - muc much higher than in Michigan. I do wonder how folks working at manual jobs for low wages can afford the tons of money they seem to spend for it at their local pub or wine bar.

So. economy would make a difference.

And thank God for your procrastination that let you pen such a illuminating light on the current status of the traditional British pub. Brilliant! they would say on Coronation shows and also 'Ia"!
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Oct 7th, 2018, 05:43 PM
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Uh, Palen, I live in WA state. (I think, but I’m not positive you know that). So my observations are more about what I see with the local dive bars. Those articles could be written about any town here.

Cost of living is COL. Price of booze plays into it far, far less than cost of EVERYTHING else. In the last 5 years, the cost of houses has on average increased 30% and I’d say rental properties have gone up even more. Lack of supply, lots of demand.

people might be drinking less in general. I mean the article says sales of grocery store booze has gone up, and that’s true. No Designated driver needed. But...my theory, based on my coworkers and relatives, is just a decrease in drinking across the board. For my parents, beer is a standard staple. For me or my friends, it’s more like a luxury. Not in the sense that we can’t afford it, more like we just drink on special occasions.

Sort of related to that...I think your perception is skewed by social media and popular culture. Isn’t coronation street some kind of fictional show? It’s like apartments in Sitcoms set in Manhattan. Not real life. I think there’s this cultural that millenials are spending a lot more money “out” than previous generations or on luxury items. Perpetuated by instagram—everyone is posting adorable pictures of their kids, or the new brunch place, or whatever. But it rarely matches up to reality. Until recently, I thought a coworker spent an obscene amount of money on brand name baby clothing. Nope. Turns out she spends a crazy amount of time at yard sales and thrift stores. You just never know.
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Oct 7th, 2018, 07:34 PM
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But there's a craft beer boom in France, so maybe it all evens out.

France has (finally) discovered craft beer. There's even one called 'La Guillotine' - Los Angeles Times
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Oct 7th, 2018, 09:07 PM
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Originally Posted by PalenQ View Post
Wow - no oomph bands outside Munich! The article did not mention oompah bands but I guess my visits to Munich and Oktoberfest led me to believe this was a German tradition. Thanks for the insight on that!

Do female servers in a Lokal or Gasttatte wear dirndls? Or is that too only a Bavarian thing?
I don't know if you are being sarcastic, Pal. I would have thought that, with all your years of leading bike tours up and down the Rhine, you would realize that drindles and such are local to Bavaria and Austria.

s
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Oct 8th, 2018, 05:40 AM
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We have two German restaurants and they wear traditional Bavarian outfits. They have the band on weekends. MarvMouse, great observation. My family own a wine bar that loves beer. Farm to table menu and just celebrated 10 years. They are in the Adirondacks and very seasonal. They really change things up to keep the locals happy and run specials constantly on drinks. The skiers and whitewater rafters from the city think their prices are crazy cheap but they have to stay reasonable for the locals. It is not an easy business.
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Oct 8th, 2018, 09:19 AM
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swandav - Well I really never went to beer halls except in Bavaria.
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