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What the Fugue is Gemütlichkeit?

Spring has arrived!  Days are getting longer, the snow has melted, and flowers are blooming across the city (much to the chagrin of my poor Midwestern allergies). Across Metro Denver folks are sipping beer on patios and laying out blankets in parks — there’s a general sense of Gemütlichkeit that’s leaving everyone feeling warm and fuzzy. But what the fugue is Gemütlichkeit anyway?

Gemütlichkeit is one of those German words that doesn’t have a direct English translation. Yes, it’s a word that can mean “the feeling of comfort,” but it’s actually much more than that. Gemütlichkeit is a sense of welcoming, it’s an invitation to sit at the table, a sense of solidarity and good cheer. One place you can experience Gemütlichkeit is in a German beer garden. Most German beer gardens are an outdoor space with many tables and benches gathered together with the sole purpose of meeting with friends and family to drink a cold brew.

Imagine being at one of these tables with your closest friends. You’re all drinking beer out of large steins and eating pretzels that you dip in the best mustard you’ve ever tasted in your life.  You’re cracking up over old jokes that only the people at your table could understand. The sun is setting, the café-style lights hung throughout the garden turn on and begin to give off a warm glow, live classical music is heard from the stage, and your crew is nowhere near ready to leave. That feeling, that essence that you’re surrounded by, is Gemütlichkeit.

If you’re on a Gemütlichkeit kick and happen to be in eastern Austria, another great place to feel that essence is at a Heuriger. In the most basic terms, a Heuriger is a (usually) smaller outdoor space where you can drink freshly-made wine during the growing season. To accompany your wine, you can grab a cheese plate or some freshly made spreadable liverwurst (seriously, this isn’t your standard bologna, this is the good stuff). Pair all of that with a mountain view, a guy playing guitar from table to table, the company of your friends, and BAM! More Gemütlichkeit.

So where can you find that sense of Gemütlichkeit around here?  The Prost! concert on April 7 is a great place to start. Be sure to stop by before the concert for some German dancing or a meal at the uClub. I look forward to seeing you there and sharing some Gemütlichkeit!

You can also experience Gemütlichkeit at the Biergarten Festival in Morrison July 7–9.  This annual fest turns 21 this year and is a great way to escape the city with live music, delicious German beer, and a gorgeous view of the foothills. But until then, pull up a blanket, bust out the solo cups, and I’ll keep an eye out for you at Wash Park. And don’t worry, I’ll bring the liverwurst (you’re really gonna have to trust me on this one).

William Reed

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