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#1
Old 04-30-2000, 12:00 AM
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My college German professor told us (circa 1988) that the legal drinking age in Germany was 12 (for beer and wine). That is, a 12-year-old kid could walk into a store and legally buy a six-pack. All the information I can find says the age limit is now 16 for beer and wine, 18 for hard liquor. Was it ever as low as 12?

I was thinking about this because yesterday I was behind a 30-year-old woman with a German accent at the grocery store checkout. They wouldn't sell her a bottle of wine because she didn't have any ID on her, and she said she had to go to the car to get her passport. The cashier thought it was ruse, but as I was leaving the store, I saw her coming back with the passport.
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#2
Old 04-30-2000, 01:57 PM
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I was in Germany with my parents in summer of 1972, at the age of 13. I doubt anyone would have looked at me and figured there was no chance in hell I was younger than 16. No questions were ever asked when I ordered alcoholic beverages (which I delighted in being able to do, feeling quite grown up). Usually I was in the company of my parents, but in some cases only in a general sense (e.g., on a cruise paddle-boat on the Rhine, parents seated elsewhere in the seats and me at the concessions counter). I was under the impression that Germany had no legal drinking age at all.

::remembering the taste of Kulmbacher Reichelsbräu::
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#3
Old 04-30-2000, 08:12 PM
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In Germany, a distinction is made as to whether the minor is under adult supervision. At 16, a German can drink or purchase beverage alcohol if under the supervision of an adult; otherwise the minimum drinking and purchasing age is 18. I couldn't find any info with regard to a change in the laws in the last 20 years or so, so I can't really answer.
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#4
Old 04-30-2000, 08:31 PM
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Android, I don't think you're right.

I was in germany 2 years ago, oftentimes without an adult, and was served in more than one bar at the age of 16. Hard alcohol is 18, but even that is loosely enforced.

This may be a question of enforcement, but I think the legal age is 16 no matter what.
#5
Old 04-30-2000, 10:34 PM
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Flymaster, I'm fairly sure I am right. I quoted the laws as I understood them, but just because a law is not enforced in it's entirety does not make it incorrect to state that law.
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#6
Old 05-01-2000, 09:33 AM
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I was in Germany last year (I was 18 at the time). I'm reasonably certain that the (official, anyway) drinking age is 16 for beer and wine, and 18 for hard liquor. In general, though, beer and wine are not strictly regulated. Nobody in our group (which included a few underagers) was carded at bars, although I remember one of the 18 year-olds being carded for buying bottles of hard liquor in a grocery store (and being accepted, as they were over-age).
#7
Old 06-15-2000, 05:18 AM
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German Beer Laws (long)

A little background may be in order here...

As I am stationed in Bavaria, I feel that I can speak with some authority on this delightful subject. First of all, Germans take beer very seriously. Really, Really Seriously (tm)

The "Reinheitsgebot" (pronounced just like it's spelled is something like "King Ludwig's Beer Purity Law of 1642" or somesuch, and you _don't_ want to know what they did to folks who broke it, which states that beer can not contain anything other than water, hops, barley, yeast, etc, no preservatives.

Beer is treated more as a food item, and indeed its caloric value is quite high in some examples. Europe is notorious for high taxation, as well it should be, but beer is semi-subsidized by the german government in the sense that it is not highly taxed as just about everything else. A Gasthaus or Pub will enter a contract with a specific brewery and from that point on can only offer beers provided by that firm. In fact, it's just about nigh impossible to get out of that contract without paying a hefty fee.

The result, though, is outstanding brews at a decent price. No tiny glasses over here, it generally is served in tall half litre glasses or litre mugs called a "Mas" (literally, a "litre"

I buy a case of 20 bottles (10 litres) at the beverage mart for about eight bucks. Mind you, this is pure ambrosia.
On hot summer days, you can enjoy a _radler_ which is half lemonade, half beer, or a Cola-Weissen, which is half beer, half soda.

The pub I frequent is open briefly around noontime and it's very popular with the high school kids. (the part you've been waiting for) I've rarely seen *anyone* carded, my perception is that if you are either with an adult or you are minding your own business and not acting like a moron, there is no problem.
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#8
Old 06-15-2000, 05:40 AM
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Just to clarify (I have been living in Germany for the past 9 years):

The official drinking ages are 16 (beer/wine) and 18 (everything else). But nobody seems to care very much. It's btw also rather shocking how many pre-pubescents hang around smoking in public, but not surprising considering that cigarette machines can be found on street corners everywhere (and don't ask for ID either). There are nearly no beer machines in Germany, however, although I seem to remember seeing them all over the Barcelona transit system, strangely enough.

As for beer culture in general, some of the things mentioned in the last message apply only to Bavaria. For example, it is impossible to get a liter glass of beer (Mass) anywhere else. The beer types also vary (less Hefe --btw, spelled with one f-- types and more "dry" beers in the north, etc.) But if a 13 year old wants one, anywhere in Germany, it might not be technically permitted, but it wouldn't be very hard for him/her (but in practice, usually him) to get one.

Also of interest: due to European Union policy, the Bavarian Beer Purity Law, formerly in effect in all of Germany, is no longer binding. This means that while most (if not all) German breweries still brew their beer in accordance with it, other beers (yes even mass-market American "beers" that will remain here unmentioned) are now allowed to be imported and sold in Germany, albeit with relatively little popularity.

Cheers!
#9
Old 06-15-2000, 05:50 AM
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German Beer

I'm sorry for the double, but I have to add that drinking german beer has left me spoiled in comparison to American "beer," While on a flight home to the U. States, I ordered a Miller Light (in a can)

It was absolutely disgusting. "What the hell is this crap?"

This isn't snobbery. Even the lowliest blue collar worker in germany kicks back some of the best brew around, at a good price with nary a fern in the bar. In America, micro-brews are pretty popular, but at eight bucks a six pack, it's kinda pricey compared to the german ale. You know what else is alright with me?

I go to my favorite haunt in the good ole' US of A.

"Gimme a draw," I say. Costs a buck, and they hand what appears to me is an orange juice glass.

"Pay up," sez the look on the barmaids face.

Okay, I reach for my wallet. Five minutes later, after I literally force myself to consume this cloying, seemingly urine derived beverage, I order another one. Repeat, ad nauseum, ad infinitum.

Read: It not only tastes like shit, the glasses are too small. Maybe I should order a pitcher, but geez.

Those spiffy card coasters that you see with the beer brands on them have a purpose other than setting your beer on.

They provide the record of how many beers you've had!

In Bavaria at least, you don't pay till you go home.
Essentially, you run a tab even if you've never been to the bar before.

Each beer you drink warrants an "X" on your card, marked by the beertender for each beer they serve. Food and ciggies are summed as well.

Can you imagine how much time they save from running around and having to give change for each and every beer they serve on a busy Saturday night?
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#10
Old 06-15-2000, 08:52 PM
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Quote:

Five minutes later, after I literally force myself to consume this cloying, seemingly urine derived beverage, I order another one.
Now you know why Budweiser keeps all those damn Clydesdales.
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#11
Old 06-15-2000, 09:26 PM
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Quote:

Cola-Weissen, which is half beer, half soda.
Mmmm....cola weissen...

Also, FYI..I don't think the x on the coaster thing is entirely universal in Germany...when I was in Bavaria (Nuremburg (yes, I know it's Franconia...but it's in Bavaria as far as government goes) and Munich) I never saw this happen. But it IS a good idea.
#12
Old 06-16-2000, 11:15 AM
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I am not sure if the OP is only interested in Germany in particular or just other countries in general.

I think strict drinking laws are more common in the USA and northern European countries whereas in Mediterranean countries there was a more relaxed attitude.

I do not believe there were any drinking laws in Spain until fairly recently. Alcohol was seen as one more food product and there was not that much abuse. Young people did not use it as a drug. I suppose if there was any question about alcohol abuse by minors it would be prosecuted under more general statutes. Probably it would be the parents who would be prosecuted as the minor is under their custody.

I remember when I was a kid, my father used to entertain American businessmen and sometimes I'd see these people binge just to get drunk because alcohol was so cheap in Spain but it was so different from our own culture. It sort of reinforced the stereotypes that Americans may have money but they had no class.

Fast forward some decades and Spanish kids are imitating American kids, going on binges just to get drunk, etc. So now you have all sorts of laws restricting alcohol consumption in public, by age, etc. but this is quite new in Spain, as I say, it used to be that there were no laws as such, no legal drinking age, no restrictions on alcohol consumption. Wine was just part of the meal.

My guess is that France and Italy were probably pretty much the same 30 years ago.

It is also only recently that laws restricting tobacco use have been enacted. They did not seem necessary before.
#13
Old 06-18-2000, 08:33 AM
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Quote:

This isn't snobbery. Even the lowliest blue collar worker in germany kicks back some of the best brew around, at a good price with nary a fern in the bar.
Belgian beer is fab-o too. They have one called 'Delerium Tremens' which is around 12%, and comes served in glasses with dancing pink elephants around the rim. Like you really need the visuals after a couple of those.

Here in the UK there's one called the Dog's Bollocks. Yum. I actually prefer bitter to lager ... was in the US a few months ago, and was pleased to find a good bitter on a bar menu -- and then, shock horror, they served it CHILLED.

::shudder::

Stompy
#14
Old 06-19-2000, 06:46 AM
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No, not all servers in pubs (Kneipen) in Germany make crosses on the paper beer coasters to keep track. Many, in fact, don't keep track but actually ask the customers how much they have consumed, thus relying on their honesty (and sobriety). I guess it all balances out in the end, since honest drunks might theoretically overestimate their consumption. I think if they thought that someone looked disreputable they might ask for the money right away.
Many others do just write the orders down on the usual pads, just like everywhere else.
#15
Old 06-22-2000, 07:33 PM
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I, too, recall my years in Germany (1973-76), and I was able to get pretty much any beer I wanted (although I never tried to buy hard liquor), even though I was only 12 (in 75-76).

Also, Tedster--I'm not sure if the change of hands did it any harm, but, oddly enough, Stroh's may be palatable. I can't get it here in California (sadly). When it was still being brewed by its original maker, they used a firing process that caramelized some of the sugars in the beer, with made for a different taste than the ordinary mass-brewed American crap. They were bought by Miller (I think), so I don't know if the brewing process has changed. I'm a total beer snob--brew my own, etc.--but Stroh's is what I'd reach for if there were no decent beers on the list.
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