Raise your glasses: The peculiarities of Dortmund pubs

Normally it’s pretty straightforward. Wherever you are, if someone says, “One beer, please,” they probably just want a beer. And that’s what you would get in Dortmund, too. You might also be asked whether you want a large one or small one. But don't be surprised if the guy next to you orders a “Stößchen” (a “little shove” or a “dash”) or a “Durch” (“pulled through in one”) – even other Germans get confused!

When you order a beer in Dortmund, you get a pilsner. Small usually means 0.3, large 0.4 or even 0.5 of a litre. But you only have one of those when you're really thirsty. In really traditional pubs, a beer is usually 0.2 of a litre. So about two mouthfuls! Real Dortmund beer is export though, so if you come from Bavaria, you might even like it a bit better than pilsner. While pilsner is drunk from tulip-shaped glass, export usually comes in what the locals call Willibecher or Willi mugs!

But you can get a pilsner in another type of glass too if you want. Don’t order a “beer” or, as the locals say, “ein Pils”, instead you have to ask for “ein Durch” (“pulled in one”). Then you get a really cold, freshly pulled pilsner that has been pulled quickly through the pump. The German saying that a perfect pilsner takes seven minutes comes from the tradition of slowly pulling the beer into a tulip glass. If you are in a hurry, you can order a "Durch", which is served in a special glass of its own.

The thing with the Dortmund “Stößchen”

Three glasses filled with beer. Capacity 0.1 litres. In Dortmund this is called a "Stößchen".
© DORTMUNDtourismus 3 "Stößchen", please!

And then there’s the Stößchen (“little shove” or “dash”, pronounced “sturs-chen”). How, when or why the Stößchen was invented has not been clarified by beer researchers yet. One thing is certain: It exists and it is popular because it can sometimes be very handy (more about this later on in the section on Schocken). To cut a long story short: A Stößchen is served in a tiny little glass, calibrated for some years now to 0.1 of a litre, but filled to about 0.15 of a litre.

In Dortmund pubs you can see a lot of people drinking Stößchen, especially at the bar. The advantage is obvious: the smaller the glass, the fresher the beer!

“Schocken” is the name of the game: drinking sport for young and old

“Have ya’ got a cup and thirteen beer mats?” is a popular request in Dortmund pubs. Of course the bartender has lots of cups, with three die in each, and plenty of beer mats, which nowadays are not actually real beer mats anymore, but specially made plastic discs stacked on a metal pin. This is the equipment you need for Dortmund’s most popular pub sport: schocken.

You can easily join an existing round of schocken if you want. After all, victims are always welcome. But be sure to check exactly which rules are being played before you join in.

People of all ages play. It’s a game that really unites people and the atmosphere at the table or bar is often almost as good as in a stadium.

While they play, many Dortmunders like to drink Stößchen instead of normal-sized beers. Simply because the loser has to buy everyone a round of beer. And if you win a lot and are a slow drinker, you may not be able to keep up with the others. That's where the little Stößchen can come in really handy.