What is a Bier Hall, anyway?

A Beer Hall (German: Bierpalast, Bierhalle) is a large pub that specializes in beer… Duh!

But more than that, a Bier Hall is a place to gather, eat, listen to music, dance, and have fun. The most famous Bier Hall is the HofbrÀuhaus in Munich, founded in 1589 as the royal residence’s brewery. Every year it hosts, along with every Bier Hall around the world, the ultimate Bier Garden event, Oktoberfest. The long benches filling every beer garden are designed to facilitate meeting old neighbors and making new friends. “Just say nein” to isolated booths or tables by taking a seat, ordering your favorite pilsner, and striking up a conversation with the person you’re bumping knees with.

And what’s the second most important bier hall item? Food, of course! Bratwurst nestled in sauerkraut, schnitzel, and giant pretzels are the most famous, with rindfleisch (beef stew), spatzle (think mac n cheese), knodel (dumplings) and strudel desserts as perennial favorites. More than just appetizers, a Bier Hall typically includes a full restaurant.

As long as we’re here, why not play a game? German board games, sometimes called Eurogames or Euro style games, are multi-player table top games that stress strategy and downplay luck and conflict. They tend to have economic themes rather than military, and keep each player involved until the end. In 2009, Germany purchased more board games per capita than any other country. Quite often there is a Spielmeister, or “game master” in charge of teaching, monitoring, and promoting games.

Throw in polka music, occasional slightly-louder-than-polite laughter, a generous portion of good natured teasing, a few good stories, and you have a prescription for fun. That’s the real definition of a Bier Hall.

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