Coat of ArmsI spent a recent long weekend on a visit to Munich. The following is not by any means a “Beer Guide to Munich” because we simply did not have enough time available to us to visit all the best places. But we did manage a number of brews in several excellent venues.

When one shops at Munich’s Marienplatz Christmas Market, it doesn’t take long to generate a thirst. Our first stop for beer was Der Pschorr, a fine recently renovated place just at Viktualienmarkt. This was an ideal oasis located close to the main centre of activity. It has high vaulted ceilings (as nearly all Bavarian bierhallen seem to have), but has quite a modern feel to it. And so, my first ever beer on German soil was a Hacker Pschorr Dunkel, quite a pleasant brew in a pleasant location.

MunichLater that evening, after dining, our second stop for beer was Wirtshaus Ayinger Speis und Trank, located directly across the road from the Hofbraühaus. This establishment is a fairly posh affair by Munich standards, as it is part of the Platzl Hotel. We sat up at the bar here and I spotted Winterbock on the blackboard, so I had one of those, but it was a lot less spicy and challenging than I had hoped. Then my attention was drawn to the sound of a loud hammering noise, as I saw the barman tap a wooden cask of Helles Holzfass (lager). So of course, we had to have several of those! The following morning, we visited the Altes Pinakothek art gallery and afterwards adjourned to the nearby Löwenbraükeller, where we had a fine lunch (Schweinshax’n) and a couple of beers (I had a Triumphator and a Franciskaner weissbier dunkel). I thought that this was a great place; a large central area, broken up into comfortable areas, and with other rooms leading off it. I noted a fine stained glass window complete with a figure clutching steins of Löwenbraü. There was no English menu, but our waiter was more than happy to practice his English and translate for us. The portions of food were enormous, more like dinner than lunch. 

That evening we mostly stayed at the Schneider Weisses Braühaus, just past the Isartor. This was my favourite place in Munich of the ones we visited. To have an Aventinus on tap (already one of my favourite beers) was a fantastic beer experience, served in a beautiful glass (I bought one for €2.52). After the Aventinus (probably not the best first beer to have, but I couldn’t resist it) I switched to the Schneider Helles. This place has a very nice atmosphere, good service and is a great place for food; we had a cheese plate at an early stage and later had another substantial snack.

HBAnd so to the Hofbraühaus. I had deliberately stayed away from this place over the busy weekend. I had heard many stories about the place, mentioning “tourist trap”,  “rudeness”,  “football crowd”, “great craic” etc. so I was a little worried. We entered this enormous hall at about 6 pm on the Monday evening. Of course it was busy (I think it almost always is) with Bavarian band in full swing, but it was definitely not mayhem. We managed to find a table, and avoided sitting at a “stammtisch” – a table reserved for regulars. We were served our first litres by a Sandra Bullock look-alike waitress. She was fairly unfriendly, but improved considerably in demeanour when we ordered our second round. To sit back in the Hofbraühaus is quite an entertaining experience. There seems to be an endless flow of Japanese tourists that come and go, the majority of whom never even buy a beer. I even saw one of them ask a pretzel girl if she would pose with him so his friend could take their picture together. She agreed to this, even managing a nice smile. After the picture was taken, he shook her hand warmly and left; not so much as a euro tip! At €6.60 a litre, the Hofbraühaus is not bad value when considering the live entertainment and waitress service. I bought a large pretzel for €3.20, so they probably make about €3 profit on each one!

AugustinerOn our last day, we had lunch in the fine Augustiner Grossgastätte. This was another great beer hall, buzzing with lunchtime activity. The Augustiner Edeldoff tasted so much better on tap than the version I had had in a bottle in Dublin. I had also very drinkable Helles, and later a Dunkel to wash down the lunch. Our last venue in central Munich for a quick beer was Nürnberger Bratwürst Glockl am Dom, at the back of the Frauenkirche. This is a dark atmospheric pub that is almost like an Amsterdam “brown bar”.

On the morning of my departure, I made a quick visit to the local off-licence on Landwehrstrasse and selected five bottles of beer to throw in the suitcase. I bought 500ml bottles of Andechser Hell, Andechser Bergbock Hell, Paulaner Salvator, Augustiner Weissbier and Augustiner Dunkel. I handed the shopkeeper €20 and he proceeded to hand me back a little over €15 in change. This meant the beers were on average less than one euro each!

Even when we got as far as Munich airport, Airbraü awaits. Yes, there is even a brewery in Munich airport, and they serve some pretty decent beer for the princely sum of €2.20 for a half litre! I’ll be back!

John Stephens Dec 2007