The food was to die for; we ordered chicken that Dr. Rosenfeld refers to as “slap your grandma in the face chicken” because it’s just that delicious. And to tell you the truth, it really was slap your grandma worthy, as it nearly melted off the bone.
The beer paired nicely with the variety of meats, cheeses, and breads we got to share with everyone. One thing about the drinking culture in Austria is that you must always pair it with delicious food to share. This way, you can try a variety of cultural treats and enjoy every bite without feeling too full.
Biergartens are open to everyone. They are simply a community of strangers brought together by delicious beer. The Austrians refer to this communal and friendly experience as Gemütlichkeit. The community aspect of these biergartens are what make the experience memorable. Our class was a group of strangers from a different country, but with a beer mug in hand we were welcomed as friends.
As we sat and enjoyed our liters of beer, we watched children playing with leaves and rocks around the tables. There was a playground in the back of the garten to entertain the kinder, and people brought their dogs to sit under the tables and beg for food and attention. People drank their beers, laughed around their tables, and enjoyed some quality time with family and new friends.
The coolest thing about the biergarten was that everyone was so enthusiastic and happy. Austrian men sat around big tables in lederhosen, and the young men would chant simultaneously before raising their beer mugs to clink together and cheers their drinks into a big foamy mess. We tried this a few times and would promptly yell Prost! – meaning cheers in German. The foam ended up all over the tables and splashed back in my face. It was truly the most exciting experience I’ve had so far!
We stayed at the garten and chatted almost until closing at 11 pm. Listening to the faculty on our trip has already taught me to value each experience in this unique and beautiful city, as they are all extraordinary. Learning about the history of the Ausgustiner while drinking the beer only has me more excited to really dive into my class on the history of brewing. Dr. Patterson and Dr. Carlson know so much about these beers and the culture surrounding them.
Hearing different languages softly intermingle during the night was incredible. Dr. Rosenfeld and some of the students who study German at the Mount got the chance to practice their foreign languages with Austrians and we all became a part of the community. The beers simply made us all more comfortable not only with each other, but also with the people around us.
As I’ve only tried four different types of Austrian and German beer at this point, I can already say that the lager from the Augustiner is my favorite. However, each beer is more delicious than any beer I’ve ever had back in the States.
Collectively, we must have finished gallons of beer and enjoyed countless laughs at the Augustiner. We created memories that I will cherish forever, and I have come to learn that building these memories is exactly what Austrian drinking culture is about. Getting together, laughing, and sharing stories and jokes has been the highlight of my experience so far – and I am just getting started!
These next few weeks soaking up the Austrian culture will definitely be a once in a lifetime experience. I cannot wait to take in every moment with a cold beer in hand while building friendships with people I’m so lucky to be traveling with. Austria is already so amazing, and it’s only been three days.
Don’t forget to check out #ThirstyThursday on the Mount Travel Instagram (@msmutravels) where I will be sharing quick facts about some of the beers we try.