Gemütlichkeit. It’s a strange word where you just “know it when you feel it.” It’s a positive word with a funky pronunciation that many non-Germans can’t say. Google defines this German word as “cordiality and friendliness.” In my humble opinion, Gemütlichkeit goes beyond just cordiality and friendliness. It’s that feeling you get when you’re hanging out with your buddies at a Beirgarten or with your girlfriends drinking some rosé wine at a cafe.
Think Wholeness. Relaxation. Social.
You find it just about anywhere. Most people think of a Biergarten or Bar, but it’s often your backyard, a deck, or a patio. It could also be inside and around your dining table or coffee table. It can be anywhere where you feel relaxed and happy. The best part? You don’t need to add alcohol to feel it, you could as easily have some tea or coffee. However, since this is Beer/Wine blog, we’re going include the alcohol part.
Making your own Gemütlichkeit is not hard. You just need to designate a space where you can either 1) host people or 2) make your own personal space. Here are some simple tips on how to create Gemütlichkeit in your own space:
Find a space or an area to host in. You don’t need a beirgarten or some big fancy area. You just need a space where you can provide some comfortable seats, a small table, and shade if you’re outdoors. Some of my friends have opted for a newer version of the beirgarten benches for their 3 season room where they host BBQ parties if the insects get too bad. I have a small porch which a few seats, a patio table with and umbrella, and soon some hanging lights (see below).
Make your space festive! Add some hanging lights these are my favorites and decorate around the area. Add some potted plants if you’re outside but make sure your other decorations can withstand the elements. My uncle’s biergarten in Germany is a converted attic where he put in a few small tables, built a bar area, and decorated it with sport posters and games. He’s up there watching the latest soccer matches with friends and enjoying a few beers probably right now.
Add music but don’t overwhelm your guests with it! This one is a tricky one. In my youth I liked going to bars where bands were playing and they blasted the volume. It was cool back then but now I’d rather hang with friends and hear music at a more reasonable level. If you’ve ever been to an Oktoberfest where they have live bands playing, they’re usually a brass band that’s loud enough for everyone to hear but quiet enough for you to have a conversation across the table.
Gemütlichkeit is something that you can feel by yourself but it’s more fun with friends and family! It’s just fun to have neighbors, friends, family drop by your place for a beer or two. Sometimes that’s too random but you can always plan a small get-together. Here are some ideas to get the party started!
Host a Brewday. What I like to do is host a Brewday and have friends come over to help and hang out with a beer during the mash or during the boil. They turn out to be great fun days and we still talk about them to this day. Just make sure that the Brewmaster stays a bit clear in the head, you can ruin a batch of beer real fast if you mess up from having “too much party.”
Host a BBQ. This is the standard way, host a BBQ and invite friends over for some food and drinks in your Biergarten. The best part, you can offer your guests some of your homebrew, if it’s good. I can always tell which homebrew batch is my guest’s favorite, it’s the one where I have nothing left for myself!
Do a “Layover.” We’re always running from one place to another. If you’re planning a Ladies night out or meeting up with the boys later, how about meeting up with everyone at your “space” for some pre-fun activities. I shared just a few ideas and tips but there are probably 100’s more out there. Feel free to use these as a starting point but always remember that Gemütlichkeit is really about you and your happiness. It makes it so much better if you can share that with some friends, family, or a special person in your life.
Interested in brewing your own beer? Check out Brewer’s Friend for great recipes and how-to’s.