Years Back - Munich

There are 12 breweries in Munich, proper. Paulaner, Lowenbrau, Hacker-Pschorr, Augustiner, Hofbrau, and Spaten are the biggest. We tried to get to the beer halls or gartens of each of the big six and almost succeeded. We plain flat out couldn't find the Altes Hackerhaus which is supposed to be at Sendlingerstrasse 75. Oh well.

The Hofbrauhaus is undoubtedly the most famous pub in the world. If you doubt that, try to name the second most famous. It's big but not the biggest. It's old but not the oldest. It's empty at 10am and completely filled by 11am until it closes at 11pm. 2 gift shops. An oompah band. Pretzel sellers walking around (2.90€). Harried waiters in white shirts and waitresses in traditional clothes.
It was here Hitler made his first public speech to the German Workers' Party in 1919 before it became the National Socialist German Workers' Party. The political plots, speeches, rallies, etc. of the 1920 were at the Hofbrauhaus and the Burgerbrau Keller down the street (the site of a Hilton hotel now).
A bill for one of those rallies includes 2,360 pints of beer, 143 broken mugs, 98 broken chairs, 2 broken music stands, and 148 missing sets of knives and forks. They say it was never paid.
At the HB, a limited food menu has reasonable prices but the ham and wollwurstl at least are pureed and shaped. The kohlrabi potato salad is excellent and quite filling. Oh, and it sells beer only by the liter, known as a fass, (6.50). The lagers come in a big glass mug with a proper 4-knuckle handle.
There's no one talking on cell phones at the Hofbrauhaus - not a prohibition, you just can't hear them ring. Did you know the Hard Rock Cafe is right across the narrow street?
There's a small garten out back and plenty of big rooms upstairs that are only used at night or for special occasions.
Wilhelm V took the opportunity of a fire in his castle in 1589 to build a new brewery in downtown Munich. Sometimes he'd stop in with some friends and quickly the brewer set up a drinking room for the boss. It was 1610 before the public was allowed to drink Hofbrau beer when the brewery was expanded and a real brauhaus was added. A big reconstruction was done in 1828 and again in 1896 when the brewery first moved out of the building to make way for more restaurant seating.
In 1958 the operation became owned by the Bavarian government and a total renovation was started to repair war damage. The current incarnation dates to 1971 when this was completed. The beer is now made in Reim, about 10 miles east in a huge plant. Recently they opened new brewpubs in Cincinnati and Las Vegas.
  • Hofbrau Original
  • Hofbrau Dunkel - Dark. Reasonably malty. Almost mass-marketly thin body.
  • Kindl Weisse
  • Scwarze Weisse - Served from the bottle. Equally as dark as the Dunkel. Sweetish and bland.

An oompah band with a harp.

Gruss Gott. Prost.

Hofbrau's other famous outlet is the Chinesischen Turm (Chinese Tower) in the Englisher Garten. It seats about 6,500 people on a warm, sunny day and more stroll around the park with big glass HB mugs. This is where the Muncheners go on weekends.
An oompah band of course plays on the 2nd floor of the tower. We can't explain why they played Volare.
Food stands are cafeteria style serving German stereotypical dishes of herring, schnitzel, pork knuckle, and of course pretzels.
You pay a 1 deposit on the glass mug and get a plastic chip. Turn both in at numerous washing stations to get your money back.
  • Hofbrau Urbock - darker than the Origional but still mass-market beer with a fairly weak aroma, taste, and attack. The bitterness is stepped up quite a bit though and there are some fruit notes that could be apricot.
  • Hofbrau Munchner Sommerbier Naturtrub - Not a radler (shandy) but certainly light with citric notes from the wheat that must be in the grain bill. A bit of a green tinge also gives that away. There's a big late push of bitter that sort of dries the mouth.

Salvator Keller is the home tap of the Paulaner Brauhaus. It's adjacent to the brewery on Munich's southeast side Nockherberger neighborhood. A big garten with an even bigger and grander hall just perfect for rainy days such as this.
  • Dunkel - Malty with edges of differentiation between malty, sweet, and bitter. Dry finish. Low carbonation.
  • Hefe-weissbier Dunkel - Dark reddish. Spicy clove, lemon, and leather follow green hedge aroma.Reasonably thick. Low carbonation.
  • Nockherberger - Unfiltered keller beer served only at this pub. Very fresh, almost green. Springtime light unfiltered helles. Just a touch of cloudy. Has a nice alcoholic kick.
  • Also available are Premium Pils, Hefe weissbier,a Roggen (not on right then) and Radlers made with lemonade and the Pils and Salvator (heresy if you ask us).
They are the only brewery house we've seen in Europe that offers a sampler. It's 7.90 per person for 2 people minimum. This gets you five .2-liter servings and if you guess all five you get a "conaisseurie la biere" certificate. At almost $20 we passed on the offer.

There's a 675k panoramic picture available of the bar.

Two blocks from the HofbrauHaus and just outside the city gates 3 blocks from Marienplatz (where the Glockenspiel chimes) is Schneider's big Weisses Brauhaus. A lovely, crowded front terrace serves the best beer in downtown Munich.
Schneider is made in Kelheim about 50 miles north so it's not a Munich beer but still very much southern Bavarian.
  • Schnieder Original - Hefeweizen. Dark almost to dunkelweizen standards. Long-lasting white head. Chewy of malt rather than wheat. Balanced - not tart, bitter, sweet, just drinkable. 5.4%
  • Aventinus WeizenStarkbier - A bit darker and a lot bolder but a very similar taste. 8%
  • Weizen Hell also on tap.
  • Bottled selections include Kristall, Leight (3.3%), Alkoholfrie, Aventinus Eisbock (12%), Braugirgl Dunkel, and Donau Pils.

The Augustiner Gaststatte is just west of Marienplatz and is the most pretty and ornate inside. An ancient hall and rear garten with lots of "small" rooms that hold 70 to 200 people each. There's an impressive leaded glass skylight dome in the center room which is decorated with pebbles and shells, possibly modelled after a similar display at the old royal Residence.
  • Dunkel - Lightish brown with a tan head. At first sharp and edgy, almost metallic. Quite a lot of bitter sets in but after a few swallows is more malty, balanced, almost drying.
  • Edelstoff Hell - Deep yellow. Nicely bittered. Light bodied. Nice bitter belch.
  • They also have bottled weissbier, pils, and a "schnitt" which the waiter poo-pooed but we don't know what schnitt means.

In the basement of the Rathaus is the Ratskeller which is Lowenbrau's downtown outlet. There are little nooks that seat 4 people to 4 tables and a big hall dominated by a 9-foot high wine keg. The emphasis here is on the food and the heavy wine menu but we found a special beer that of a style we couldn't find on tap anywhere else in town - Triumphator dopplebock.
  • Swarzbier - Very dark red black lager. Little smell and a little bitter and a little roasted malt.
  • Triuphator - Dopplebock. Brewed in the spring and gone from taps everywhere else. Pure black with a white head. Sweet raisin and plum aroma with red grapes, smoke, and leather. The first taste continues the grapes and leather, all in the roof of the mouth and very strong. Quick to a finish that's sweeter with raisin. Long dark fruit lingering end. Wonderful stuff.

Around the corner from the east gate and a block from the Weisses Brauhaus is the Viktualienmarkt, an open air farmer's market with permanent stands. Each of the big 6 breweries take turns supplying beer there. A must-stop. Pick up your food at a stand or get a bunch of radishes and wash them in one of the fountains, then head for the beer stand for your beer.

Not all the cafes and brauhauses in Munich are tied to one brewery. One we stopped at served Fraziskaner, Spaten, and Konig Ludwig side by side.
  • Franziskaner Dunkleweiss - Turns out to be from a bottle and is the same as in the U.S.; excellent.
  • Franziskaner Weiss - Very weissy with tons of banana sweetness.

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