Drinking Culture in Germany [Ultimate 2023 Guide for Foreigners]
Updated: Jul 15
Drinking wine and beer is part of German culture. In this article, you will learn the laws and cultural values associated with drinking in Germany.
The legal drinking age in Germany is 14 years.
Public drinking is both legal and acceptable in German culture.
Many employers in Germany allow their workers to drink alcohol within the office premises. On top of it, many workers in Germany drink alcohol during office hours.
Going out with your colleagues to grab a drink after work is very common in Germany.
You can gift your friends a bottle of wine as a thanking gesture for inviting you over to their house.
Drinking beer is an integral part of German culture. However, excessive and uncontrolled drinking has a bad reputation. So, always drink alcohol responsibly.
German politics is divided into two groups; one that favors raising the legal drinking age and one that doesn't. The German government favors raising awareness about the harmful effects of drinking alcohol over raising the legal drinking age.
Beer and wine in Germany are cheap. You may find the price of water and beer the same in Germany.
Drinking alcohol for young people is harmful. Studies show that alcohol consumption may cause brain damage.
Table of Contents
What is the drinking age in Germany?
Welcome to Germany! A country where you can drink alcohol when you turn 14 under the supervision of your parents or a custodian. 🍻
Yes, you read it right. As per Jugendschutzgesetz (JuSchG) section 9, German law groups the drinking age into three categories.
Teens (14 to 16 years): Can drink alcohol under the supervision of their parents or guardians.
Adolescents (16 to 18 years): Can purchase and drink alcohol with less than 1.2% distilled alcohol.
Adults (older than 18 years): Can purchase and drink any alcohol.
(14 to 16 years)
(16 to 18 years)
(older than 18 years)
German law on drinking
Can drink beverages containing less than 1.2 % of distilled alcohol under the supervision of their parents or custodians.
Can purchase and drink beverages containing less than 1.2% of distilled alcohol.
Can buy and drink any alcohol.
Public drinking is acceptable in Germany
Drinking is part of German culture. It is very common and acceptable to drink in public in Germany.
Moreover, there is no clause against public drinking in German law.
Is drinking alcohol acceptable in offices in Germany?
Would you like to drink alcohol at work? If the answer is yes, then you will love working in Germany. Many workplaces in Germany allow drinking alcohol on the work premises.
Many teams celebrate personal and professional milestones with a bottle of sparkling wine.
The celebration in Germany is incomplete without a beer or wine. The occasion doesn't matter, but celebrating it with a glass of wine or beer does.
After work drinking culture in Germany
German companies allow drinking during office hours. But it is not common for people to drink while working.
But going out to grab a glass of wine or beer after work is widespread in Germany. So teams plan such get together quite often.
It not only helps team members to bond but also has a good time together.
Taking a bottle of wine while visiting a German friend
Your German friend invited you to their house. But, you are not sure what you can gift your friend as a thanking gesture for inviting you. How about a bottle of wine?
Gifting a bottle of wine as a gesture to thank someone is very common in Germany. Moreover, the wine doesn't have to be fancy.
Any 12€ wine you can find in your local grocery store will suffice.
Drinking during the day is acceptable in Germany
In some cultures drinking during the day is unheard of or categorized as an alcoholic. Not in German culture.
You can see people drinking alcohol during the day in Germany. In short, drinking beer in Germany is like drinking Coca-Cola in other cultures.
You are not an alcoholic if you drink wine or beer in Germany
In many cultures, drinking alcohol is considered bad. Moreover, the community finds people who drink alcohol alcoholics.
But, this is not the case in Germany. Germans won't consider you an alcoholic if you drink beer or wine. Moreover, you can beer any time during the day.
Excessive drinking has a negative image in German culture
Yes, drinking is an integral part of German culture. But, you will not find Germans drunk on the street and making a ruckus.
Drinking alcohol responsibly is the first thing you will learn in Germany. On top of it, Germans do not like alcoholics or people drinking irresponsibly.
So, drink within your limits to have a good time with the locals.
Drinking customs and traditions in Germany
Your German friends or office colleagues are staring at you as you drink "Weiß" beer from the bottle. However, you have no idea what you did wrong.
Don't worry; you are not alone. We all have been through it. Here are some drinking customs and traditions in Germany.
1. Look in the eyes when you cheers
Always make eye contact while clinking your glass with others. Germans consider it rude and unfriendly if you don't do so.
On top of it, Germans have a superstition. If you don't see in the eye while clinking your glass, you are cursed with seven years of bad sex.
How crazy is that!!
2. Never drink Weiß beer from the bottle
Germans are serious about their beers and how you drink them. Weiß beer is a special beer that Germans drink only via glass.
There is a logical reason for this absurd tradition. Some of Weißbeer's content settles at the bottom of the bottle.
Thus, to ensure you drink it right. You first pour 90% of the beer into your glass. Next, you rotate your bottle to mix the content with the remaining beer. And then pour it into the glass.
So, you see, not everything is some crazy tradition.
3. Always finish your beer
In general, leaving your food or drink is a bad practice. But, as you may guess, not finishing beer is an offense in Germany.
Don't worry; no one is going to call the police. Only your German friends may point it out to you with a straight face.
4. If you are standing on the bench raising beer, don't sit before finishing it
Have you been to Octoberfest? It is the biggest beer festival in Germany. And the festival has its traditions.
One is to chug beer when you stand on the bench holding your beer mug.
5. You should be able to open your beer bottle with anything available
Every German knows more than one way to open their beer bottle. And they expect you to be able to open yours yourself.
Here are some of the ways you can open a bottle in Germany.
You can use the edge of the table to open the beer bottle.
Open one beer bottle using another.
How about using your teeth to open the bottle?
Germans even use their house keys to open a beer bottle.
How do you open your beer bottle? Mention your way in the comments down below. 😀
How much alcohol can you drink before driving?
Never combine drinking and driving. German law prohibits it for your and others' safety.
But, the law allows experienced drivers to drive after drinking a maximum of 0.3 liters of beer.
⚠️ WARNING: Different people respond to alcohol differently. Thus, irrespective of whether you drank within legal limits; if you were found driving dangerously, your alcohol consumption will be taken into consideration.
Political view on drinking in Germany
The Green party in Germany proposed to raise the legal drinking age to 18. However, the government does not see a strong reason to do so.
The German government have various awareness programs for young people. They counsel the youth about the harmful effects of alcohol on their health.
The government believes in teaching responsible drinking over raising the legal drinking age. The best part is that the data supports this belief.
The per capita alcohol consumption has declined in Germany. Moreover, alcohol consumption among young people (18 - 24 years of age) remained flat.
On top of it, fewer teenagers (13 - 17 years of age) admitted to consuming alcohol.
Thus, the German government rejected the proposal to raise the legal drinking age to 18. Instead, the officials decided to continue the awareness programs.
Alcoholic beverages in Germany are almost the same price as drinking water
Good news for those who love a cold glass of beer over coca-cola - the beer in Germany costs the same as a bottle of coke.
The table below shows Germany's average cost of beer, wine, non-alcoholic beverages, and water.
Water (1.5 liter bottle)
0.2 € to 1.00 €
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range)
3.00 € to 9.00 €
Domestic Beer (0.5 liter bottle)
0.53 € to 1 €
Coca-Cola (1 liter bottle)
If you are a wine lover instead of a beer fan, you can find a decent bottle of wine for 5 € in any local German supermarket.
So, not only do Germans welcome drinking alcohol, but the cost of alcoholic drinks is also low in Germany.
Is drinking alcohol for people under 18 healthy?
As per studies, the brain keeps developing till your mid-twenties. And drinking alcohol may risk damaging your developing brain.
The younger you are, the more risk of damaging your developing brain. Besides the known harmful effects on your health, here are some other side effects of drinking alcohol.
Drinking and driving increase the chances of fatal accidents.
You may involve in unsafe sex under the influence of alcohol.
So, even if drinking alcohol is acceptable in German culture, you should drink responsibly.
⚠️ Health Warning: Drinking alcohol may increase cancer risks and during pregnancy can cause birth defects.
Drinking alcohol is an integral part of German culture. However, drinking responsibly is a prerequisite.
I would love to hear your experiences on drinking culture in Germany. So, please share it in the comments down below. 😀