Five rules for German beer hall etiquette: Tips on what to do

Germany's most famous tavern, Hofbräuhaus, was built in Munich in 1589, and is where Lisa-Marie Maurus works as a waitress. Her favourite part about working there is meeting the mix of customers, whether regulars or visitors from all around the world, see hofbraeuhaus.de

STEP ONE

When entering a beer hall, don't wait to be seated on the ground floor area. Just go in and look for a place at one of the tables. If you see a sign on a table saying "stammtisch", the table is reserved for regulars. You are more than welcome to join other people at their table when you find a free seat there – people sit together at big tables, they drink together, they laugh and sing together, and hopefully become friends. The Hofbräuhaus has even received letters and emails from people who met here and later got married.

STEP TWO

Beware of the size of the beer. Each comes in a one-litre stein. In Bavaria, we have a saying – "live and let live". It's OK to get a little drunk but there is no need to exaggerate, just behave and have fun. It's better to enjoy the good beer and be able to remember it the next day. Perhaps order a radler (a shandy) to keep going longer.

STEP THREE

To toast, saying "Prost" is fine, "Ein Prosit" is even better. It is good etiquette to look people in the eye when clinking glasses, and especially to cheers with gusto. Leave your smartphone in your bag – what's better than Wi-Fi are the real people. Note that you may smoke only outside. Instead, you can do as many locals do and use traditional Bavarian snuff at the table.

STEP FOUR

Munich is the home of Oktoberfest: dress in authentic clothing to blend in – white blouses, dirndl dresses and aprons for women, lederhosen for men. The Hofbräu-Festzelt (Hofbrau tent) is the largest of Munich's 34 beer tents, and is known as the party tent, with a capacity just shy of 10,000 people inside and out. Try to reserve a table in any of the tents beforehand, or get there early to get a seat, and bring cash as credit cards are not so readily accepted at the festival.

STEP FIVE

Don't eat before you visit. Not only are the one-litre mugs big, but so are the portion sizes of the homemade food served at the beer halls. Consider visiting before noon to experience the traditional Munich breakfast of white sausage, pretzels and a wheat beer.

Munich's 186th Oktoberfest runs until October 6, see oktoberfest.de. In Australia, Oktoberfest in the Gardens runs in Melbourne (October 19) and in Sydney (October 26). See oktoberfestinthegardens.com.au

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