Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Some Different Beers Whilst Abroad

Most beer tourists to Munich will be familiar with the city's "Big Six" breweries: Augustiner, Hacker-Pschorr, Hofbraeu, Loewenbraeu, Paulaner and Spatenbraeu whose products can be found and enjoyed all over the Bavarian capital. Yet with a bit of detective work, and a bit of travelling around, it is possible to track down beers from a number of other Bavarian breweries.

I have already mentioned Forschungsbrauerei and its excellent beers, as well as Erharting, whose beers we enjoyed on a trip out to the Walderpach area of the city, but even when one first arrives in Munich, it is possible to sample beers from a brewery you will not find anywhere else. Airbraeu is situated just off the open concourse which lies between terminals 1 and 2 at Munich's international airport. It is a brew-pub-cum-restaurant-cum-beer-garden, offering house-brewed beers at very competitive prices.

As our flight got in just before 11am we wasted little time after re-claiming our baggage in making for Airbraeu. It took a bit of finding; Franz Josef Strauss International Airport is a big place and we took a number of wrong turns. Eventually we located it and took a seat in the outdoor drinking area before ordering ourselves a half litre each of the unfiltered helles-style beer called FliegerQuell. It was a good way to start the holiday and a good way to combat the sweltering heat which we would have to get used to. The beer was full-bodied and tasty, and at 2.30 Euros for a half litre was extremely good value.

The village of Aying, which is about a 35 minute S-Bahn journey on line S6, is home to another "out of town brewery". Ayingerbraeu, (named after the vilage), brew an astonishingly wide range of beers and it is well worth making the short journey out to the suburbs to enjoy them at Liebhards, which is the brewery tap. We have done this on the last two trips, but our most recent visit was cut short by a thunderstorm which rapidly emptied what had been a pretty-packed beer garden! For those not wanting to make the trip, Ayingerbraeu beers can be enjoyed at the Wirtshaus, right opposite the world-famous Hofbraeuhaus, in the centre of Munich.

Another brewery whose beers can be found in the centre of town is one that needs little introduction to beer tourists. Kloster Andechs, situated on a hill overlooking the shores of Ammersee lake to the south-west of the city, is one of the few remaining monastery breweries in Germany. People literally come here on a beer pilgrimage in order to sample its range of well-regarded beers, and I have made a point of visiting the "Sacred Mountain" on all three visits that I have made to the Bavarian capital. To reach Andechs you need to travel to Herrsching, at the southern terminus of S-Bahn line S5. From here it is either a short bus ride up to the monastery or, for the more active, a pleasant uphill stroll through the woods; a walk that takes about an hour to complete. It is very satisfying to do the walk and you will feel well-rewarded when you reach your destination. (You will certainly appreciate your beer more!). Having a teenage son for company on the last two occasions meant we ended up getting the bus, although we did walk back from the monastery on the previous occasion!

The first time I visited Andechs, having only seen small groups of people on my walk up to the monastery, I was stunned by the sheer numbers packing out the sun-terrace and the Braeustueberl on my arrival. After sampling the brewery's Helles, Dunkel and Doppelbock beers I could understand why Kloster Andechs is so popular. Again if you don't want to make the journey, or if your itinerary doesn't allow enough time, then Andechs beers can be enjoyed in the city centre, at Andechser am Dom in the shadow of Munich's impressive cathedral - the Frauenkirche.

Travelling a bit further afield takes the beer tourist to the picturesque town of Tegernsee, overlooking the Alpine lake of the same name. The town is home to the Herzogliche BrauhausTegernsee , whose prodcts can be enjoyed at the impressive Braeustueberl which adjoins the brewery and overlooks the lake. Independent rail operator, Bayerische Oberland Bahn ("BOB" for short), will transport you all the way to Tegernsee from Munich's central station, or you can do what we did, and transfer on to "BOB" from the S-Bahn at Holzkirchen. (We had stopped off at the latter town to sample the beers of the Holzkirchner Oberbraeu, only to find the brewery tap closed for its Ruhetag, or rest day!). The Braeustueberl itself is a former monastery and royal palace. We visited on what was probably the hotest day of our trip, and were glad to sit in the cool, vaulted beer hall enjoying some of the excellent beers brewed next door.

Another "out of town beer" that we tried tracking down was Kaltenberg. Some of you probably remember the TV ads from the 1980's, promoting the brewery's Diaet Pils. The ads made great play of the fact that the beer was "brewed by a prince". What they didn't mention was that the prince was none other than Crown Prince Luitpold, heir to the Bavarian throne and a direct descendent of the Wittelsbach dynasty that had ruled Bavaria until 1918. Today the prince operates a number of breweries under the Kaltenberg banner, including ironically enough the aforementioned Holzkirchner Oberbraeu!

We wanted to visit the original brewery at Kaltenberg itself, situated in Prince Luitpold's picturesque castle. We consequently travelled out to Geltendorf, at the terminus of S-Bahn Line 8. From here we planned to catch a bus to Kaltenberg but, much to our disappointment discovered that the buses were very infrequent, especially during the schools holidays. We toyed with getting a taxi to the castle, but there still appeared to be no buses back. We gave up and caught the S-Bahn back into Munich. Had I done my homework correctly I would have discovered that Kaltenberg have a brewery at Fuerstenfeldbruck, five stops back up the line on our way back into town!

We finally got the chance to sample Kaltenberg beers on the last day of our trip at a beer garden called Muenchener Haupt'. A short S-Bahn ride to Mittersendling, followed by a short walk, brought us to this large shady beer garden, situated next to an impressive 19th Century mansion. Although it was litres only here, both the Helles and the Dunkel were well worth the wait.

Our journey out to Geltendorf was not a complete disaster though, as approaching Munich we were able to transfer trains and put Plan B into action. We travelled out to the small town of Maisach where we located Maisacherbraeu, whose impressive tower-style brewery dominates the main road out of town. The brewery buildings had the appearance of an English country brewery, although I couldn't quite put my finger on which one! The beer garden was closed until 4pm, but there was a small terrace area at the rear of the Braeustueberl which overlooked the brewery yard. We sat out here sampling several Maisacher beers, including the interesting Raeuber Kneissl a Dunkel that is named after a notorious 19th Century robber.

We managed to track down one more unusual brewery on the last evening of our visit. Unionsbraeu was a fairly substantial Munich brewery that was taken over by Loewenbraeu in 1922. Brewing returned to these impressive buildings in 1991, but on a much smaller scale. Unionsbraeu is situated a short walk from Max-Weber-Platz U-Bahn station. We sat out in the small, but pleasant beer garden at the rear of the pub, enjoying a couple of glasses of the unfiltered Unionsbraeu Helles. It was a fitting place at which to end our sampling of some of Munich's more unusual beers!


Tandleman said...

Excellent Paul. I enjoyed this and it brought back memories plus you have given me a few more tips.

Paul Bailey said...

Glad you enjoyed my write up, Tandleman Had time allowed, we would have liked to visit Kloster Reutberg and also journeyed in the other direction to Freising. I managed a brief visit to the latter on my first visit to Munich, and enjoyed sampling a few Weihenstephan beers at the brewery tap. I understand though that there's another brewery in the town (Hofbrauhaus) as well as a brew-pub.

Tandleman said...

I have to say I liked the Hofbrauhaus Freising more than its better known rival.