After living in Asia for nearly three years, I had gotten used to the fact that I would never fit in. No matter how I dressed or how many cute accessories I piled onto my cellphone, I would always be a gaijin (外人), a gweilo (鬼佬), a foreigner.
Even as my travels moved me westward, I still couldn’t pass for a local–The Brits were quick know I was from the US and the Parisians immediately stuck their noses up when I scrambled to use my broken French with them.
All of that changed however, when we arrived in Germany.
Suddenly, people looked similar to us.
Suddenly, people would start using German with us, which left me stammering awkwardly as I don’t actually know any German.
And suddenly, people would come up asking me for directions and to find out where something was located.
Now, my mother’s side is 100% German, but I just never realized how German I was, until going to Germany.
Spending time on tours and with locals, they’d joke about typical German personalities being a little OCD, orderly, and always on time. Oh shit– that’s me, was all I could think with every next joke made. Everything about Germany’s lifestyle, people and culture just resonated with me. I finally found a country where I felt like I fit in, where I felt at home.
Except for one thing…
I hate beer.
That’s right, I said it: I hate beer. I can hold my own with any other type of alcohol, but there’s something about beer that I just can’t stand, no matter how much I try to condition myself to it.
So can I really call myself a German when I hate beer??
Beer seems to play such an integral part of life in German, especially in Munich. Every story, every famous building, seemed to somehow tie back to beer. Walking around at 10am, we already saw people enjoying their morning brew in the park, and I’m not talking about coffee.
Everyone seemed so excited to get out and try some of Munich’s famous beers, except for me. Upon admitting I didn’t like beer I was met with blank stares, followed by lots of questioning and recommendations.
Everyone was assuring me that once I tried the beer there I’d love it, as what I had been drinking in the US was simply put– “not beer”.
Sitting down at my first pub in Munich, I looked around. Every person had the same logo glass of beer in hand, so I figured it had to be good if everyone was drinking it.
I ordered myself a tall glass and taking a big sip… blehk. I could barely get the sip down. It was crisp, it was bitter, it was, everything I hate about beer. I continued to sit there, nursing that beer for almost two hours through dinner, and in the end I only managed to down one-fourth the glass.
I called defeat and went home, leaving the rest at the table.
The next day on tour, I was given even more recommendations. They, again, assured me that maybe I just needed a different taste. So that night I found the fruitiest, sweetest beer I could find.
It was, a little more tolerable, but I still only got through half the glass. Better than the previous night’s conquest I suppose.
But I was still standing by my original statement– I hate beer.
Our plans for the next day involved going to some of Munich’s most famous beer halls. More than anything, I wanted a photo with one of those ridiculous steins, but could I really justify paying nearly $10 just to get a picture since I knew I wouldn’t even be drinking the beer inside?
Flipping through the pages of their massive beer menu, something caught my eye– Ruß’n. A fruity white beer with lemonade. Fruity? Yes, please. Lemonade? I love lemonade!
So I placed my order and waited for the giant stein to be placed in front of me, and when it finally was, I must say, it was a bit intimidating.
Lifting up the stein, I could barely get it to my mouth. I have no idea how those beer maids run back and forth, often with three or more steins in hand. I’d always seen photos of steins, but they just don’t do them justice. Thinking about consuming a near liter of beer, especially when you hate beer, was actually kind of nauseating.
Getting thirsty from too much red cabbage and sauerkraut, I finally took a sip. It was… surprisingly, not bad! For once it actually tasted sweet and fruity, with just the slightest hint of beer. I continued conversing with the family we shared the table with, eating my meal, sipping away, and before I knew it, I had finished the stein. And in record time.
I couldn’t believe I found a beer I liked. The next night I went out and ordered another one, again, finishing it no problem. Can I finally say I like beer?
Ehhh, maybe not.
While I still don’t like most beers I’ve tried since then, it’s a start at least! Maybe it’s a good thing that I have yet to find another beer I enjoy outside of Munich, as it just gives me more reason to return. Watch out Oktoberfest, next year, I’m coming for you. ;)
Maybe I’m not such a bad German after all…[divider]