Saturday, 9 August 2014

Return to Munich

A welcoming Maß
The boy and I are off to München tomorrow. This will be my fifth visit to the Bavarian capital in the last nine years and I have to say I’m really looking forward to it. We’ve a rather full itinerary of places to visit that I’ve mapped out, including a few old favourites, such as Kloster Andechs, Liebhards (Aying), Tegernsee and Forschungsbrauerei, but I’ve also included somewhere a bit further a field; namely Mittenwald – right on the border with Austria, and home to the highest brewery in Germany. En route we’ll hopefully get the chance to stop off for a few lunchtime bevies at Kloster Ettal as well.

Beer from the wood
I’m hoping that it will be beer garden weather for the duration of our eight day visit, as there’s nothing better than sitting out under the shade of the chestnut trees, enjoying a Maß or two, However, the 10 day forecast for Munich is looking very changeable at the moment, with cool temperatures for the time of year and quite a lot of rain. Never mind; we’ll just have to revert to indoor drinking instead!

Tandleman wrote recently about Bavarian beer gardens; specifically Augustiner Keller, and if the weather’s good when we arrive Sunday on evening I expect we’ll be calling in there. If it isn’t, then it's Weisses Bräuhaus for dinner, followed by a Maß at the Hofbräuhaus; and that is the beauty of Munich – so many places to choose from that, come rain or shine, we’ll find somewhere to slake our thirst and satisfy our bellies.
Kugler Alm - right out in the sticks

As on previous trips I’ll be including my now rather battered copy of “The Beer Drinker’s Guide to Munich”, written by American Larry Hawthorne, and although it is now in its 6th edition, in probable need of updating. Nevertheless the book is still an indispensable guide to tracking down the best beer gardens Munich has to offer, especially when one considers that many of them are quite tucked away and are largely only known to locals.

On our last two trips we visited some excellent establishments, including Menerterschwaige, Waldwirtschaft Groβhesselohe (Wa-Wi), Hinterbrühl, Hirschgarten, Alter Wirt, Insel Mühle and Kugler Alm to name but a few. Hirschgarten is reputed to be Europe’s largest beer garden, and serves Edelstoff from a wooden cask. We’ve been there a few times and it’s unbelievably busy, and seems especially popular with younger people. There are also several well-known beer gardens in the Englischer Garten (Munich's equivalent of Hyde Park), including Seehaus, Osterwald and the famous Chinesischer Turm.
Chinesischer Turm - Englischer Garten

Gardens such as Insel Mühle, Menerterschwaige, Kugler Alm and Hinterbrühl are all a bit more tucked away, but part of the fun is tracking them down and getting there; a task made easy with the help of Larry’s book and Munich’s excellent, fully integrated public transport system.The system offers various options, depending on the number of people travelling, zones one wishes to visit and also includes a three day option. All tickets allow easy switching between rail (both suburban rail as well as underground lines), buses and trams, and makes getting around the city a breeze.

I have written before about Bavarian beer gardens, so I won’t repeat previously published information here, apart from saying the beer gardens are great social levellers, attracting people from all ages and from all walks of life. Some allow patrons to bring their own food along, as long as they buy beer from the garden, of course. Most offer inexpensive and hearty food, as well as the choice of self-service or waiter/waitress service.

They are popular with people on their way home from work, and at weekends they are equally popular with families, keen to escape the confines of hot apartments and escape into the fresh open air of the beer garden. There are around 180 such places in the city, ranging from small local gardens, serving a particular area, right up to the aforementioned Hirschgarten, which can accommodate up to 8,000 people!
Empty wooden casks at Hirschgarten

Here’s hoping we spend at least some time drinking outdoors in a few of these excellent establishments; but we are also looking to track down some Bavarian craft beers, as well as enjoy a few beers brewed out in the more rural regions of Bavaria.

For those interested in learning more about Munich's Beer Gardens, click here and the link will take you to an interactive site which lists most of them in the city, and the surrounding area.

Kloster Andechs
I had also intended putting up a link to the Beer Drinker's Guide to Munich website, but my virus checker blocked the link, as it appears the site has an infection. If you are reading this Larry, you need to check your site urgently, as it's been attacked!

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