Tuesday, 9 September 2014

What We Did on Our Holidays

First beer of the day at Kloster Andechs
We did a fair bit of travelling around whilst we were in Munich last month. I have already described our trip into the Bavarian Alps, visiting Kloster Ettal and Mittenwald, but we also did some exploring closer to the city centre. These more local trips took full advantage of Munich’s excellent integrated public transport system, and of the real value-for-money group tickets which the local public transport authority (MVV) has available. An ordinary day ticket or Tageskarte, is value enough in itself, but the authority also issues a Partnertageskarte which, as its name suggests, allows more than one person to travel on the same ticket. In fact up to five adults can use the ticket, providing of course they all travel together. In addition a number of children can also travel on the ticket.

Lunch option at Kloster Andechs
We visited some favourite out of town destinations, such as Aying, Kloster Andechs and Forschungsbrauerei, but also used the Inner Ring ticket to search out some more unusual places closer to the city centre. Kloster Andechs of course, needs little in the way of introduction to regular visitors to Munich, with the monastery and Bräustüberl perched on top of the Holy Mountain, over-looking the Ammersee and the brewery just below. A train trip to Herrsching, right at the end of S-Bahn 5, followed by either a 10 minutes bus ride, or an hour’s walk up through the woods, takes you to this popular, and at times heaving watering hole. Because of its popularity, Kloster Andechs is best visited mid-week. The sun was shining when we arrived, so we sat enjoying our first beer of the day in the small beer garden, about two thirds of the way up the hill, before adjourning to the sheltered terraced behind the Bräustüberl. Both the Helles and the Doppelbock Dunkles were in fine form, but given how crowded the place was, even for a Tuesday, we decided to eat elsewhere. 

Steamer setting off from Seehof
We caught the 14.20 bus back down into Herrsching and made for Seehof; a largish restaurant over-looking the lake, with a separate self-service beer garden area complete with tables set right at the water’s edge. With a glass or two of Hofbräu Original, a plate each of O'bazda and a ringside view of the calm and serene Ammersee against the backdrop of the surrounding hills, I can think of few better places to spend a sunny afternoon. We watched the steamers coming and going from the adjoining jetty, and got chatting to a lady who lived the other side of the lake, but who had cycled right round to Herrsching. After a glass of Hofbräu, and a bite to eat, she was planning to return back by ferry with her bicycle. We had an interesting chat, primarily in English because she wanted to practice her language skills; but what a nice lady, and what a fantastic way to spend your day, cycling around the shore of a beautiful and scenic lake, stopping for lunch at a beer garden over-looking said lake, and then taking the ferry home!

Ayingerbräu, who brew in the village of Aying, a 35 minute train journey to the south of Munich, like to promote themselves as “Munich’s favourite country brewery”. It is well worth making the 30 minute S-Bahn trip out to Aying and then walking up to the village centre and the brewery inn and guest house, known as Liebhards. Previous visits have been evening ones, but this time we made the trip at lunchtime. It was our first full day in Munich and the grey-leaden skies were pouring with rain like it was never going to stop. We got soaked just walking up to the pub from the station, but once inside the rustically furnished, but surprisingly large inn, and with a half-litre mug or two of Ayingerbräu’s excellent, unfiltered Kellerbier in front of us, all thoughts of the inclement weather outside vanished.

We arrived at around 12.30pm and the pub was quite quiet, but not long. After we has sat down and ordered our drinks, several parties of mainly elderly people came in. Like us, they seemed glad to escape from the rain, and like us they ordered some food to go with their beer. Actually we only ordered some soup, as we were planning on eating something more substantial in the evening, but the chicken noodle soup and the dense, dark local Landbrot that went with it, were just right for lunchtime.

If you don’t want to make the trip right out to Aying, the company’s beers can be found in several outlets in Munich itself; including the Ayinger am Platzl, opposite the Hofbräuhaus, right in the city centre. The latter is run by a member of the Inselkammer family, who also own and run the brewery.

Liquid refreshment at Bräustüberl Tegernsee
Two days later, under equally wet conditions, we took a trip out on the BOB train to Bräustüberl Tegernsee, right on the shores of the Tegernsee itself. Like at Kloster Andechs the previous day, the beer hall was packed, but we were able to sit outside in the dry under the extensive canopies in front of the Bräustüberl. Just feet from where we sat the rain cascaded down in biblical proportions, obscuring our view of the lake, but we were fine as we quaffed our Brauhaus Tegernsee Helles and Dunkles, and got stuck into our lunch of potato cakes with sauerkraut.  It was fortunate that we arrived early, as the number of spare places under the canopies began to steadily diminish. It really is amazing where all the people come from, but I expect the excellence of the beer and the food, coupled with the attractive lakeside setting have a lot to do with it.

Hinterbruhl Gasthof
We had set aside Friday for shopping, but had forgotten that August 15th  is a public holiday in Catholic Bavaria, celebrating the Feast of the Assumption of Mary. Consequently all major shops and most small ones were closed, so shopping went out of the window. Instead we did some more exploring of pubs and Biergartens within Munich’s inner zone, starting with trip by underground to Thalkirchen, the stop for the city’s zoo. A short bus ride, followed by a walk through the trees along the banks of the Isar River, brought us to Hinterbruhl, an impressive looking Gasthof built in the style of an Alpine chalet.

We sat out on the terraced, self-service beer garden which overlooks the river, hoping that the earlier intermittent rain was finally clearing. Fortunately it was, so we got stuck into a half litre each of Hacker-Pschorr, before heading off elsewhere. This was our second visit to Hinterbruhl, but on neither occasion have we ventured inside. For the history buffs amongst us it is worth recording that this guest house was used, from time to time, as a convenient and tucked-away, out-of-town meeting place by senior Nazi officials during the early days of World War II. The likes of Goering, Goebbels, Himmler and even Hitler himself would gather here on occasion, away from prying eyes and ears. I wonder if they bothered to sign the guest book!

Re-tracing our journey back to Thalkirchen, we headed west by underground and then due south by S-Bahn to Höllriegelskreuth, where by following the directions and map in The Beer Drinkers Guide to Munich, we managed to find our way to our lunchtime stop of Brückenwirt. The map took us through some woods and we then followed a series of steeply descending concrete steps down towards the river, and then to Brückenwirt pub, right on the river bank, just below the impressive, high-level road bridge across the Isar valley.

Löwenbräu was the beer here, and I have to report their Urtyp Hell was very good. By the time we sat down in the small beer garden at the side of the pub, the sun was shining so it was off with the fleece and on with the sunglasses! There were several Floß, or rafting parties moored up; we had heard the noise from their on-board Oompah band whilst we were still high up in the woods, but one by one these large rafts, and their parties of itinerant drinkers, cast off their moorings and set off to float down the canalised section of the Isar, down towards the city. 

Floß party setting off from Brückenwirt
For those interested, the Floß trips start at Wolfratshausen and end at Thalkirchen, close in fact to Hinterbruhl where we had been earlier. The total journey is around 30 kilometres (18 miles). The rafts weigh around 22 tonnes, and can hold up to 60 people apiece. These float trips are not cheap, but the price includes pick-up from, and return to central Munich, lunch and beer en route at somewhere like Brückenwirt, and also beer on the raft. They certainly seem very popular, and with a good crowd, and some decent dry weather, I imagine the whole thing could be a hoot.

Our final outing was on our last evening in Munich and took us to the village of Perlach; home to the well-respected Forschungsbrauerei. This was our third visit to Forschungs, and I have to report it has changed somewhat. Actually it had changed on our previous visit two years ago, but not as profoundly. Forschungs is unusual; the name Forschungsbrauerei translates literally as “experimental brewery” and that is how the company started out.

Forschungsbrauerei, Perlach

It was founded by Gottfried Jakob in 1930. Gottfried had trained at the world renowned Weihenstephan Brewery, and had started out making beer on a small 44-gallon brewery, trying out various recipes on family members and close friends. His efforts met with approval, and encouraged by this success, Gottfried started a commercial venture, by building a brewery with a capacity of 500 gallons, along with a small restaurant. He deliberately kept the operation at this size, as his aim was to develop new brewing processes without compromising the quality of his existing products, whilst at the same time keeping the whole operation manageable and within the capabilities of his family. 

After his death in 1958, his son Heinrich took over the business, helped by his father-in-law, Sigmund. For many years the pub was only open between March and October, as during the winter months the pair concentrated their skills on brewing research for other companies. Heinrich’s son, Stefan continued this tradition, helped by his uncle and other family members, but in October 2010, Stefan Jakob terminated the lease and for a while the future of the brewery, and the adjoining pub, looked uncertain. Fortunately new owners took over the business in August 2011 and made several improvements.

The pub is now open year-round, 7 days a week, and the beer range has been revamped. Long-time brewery mainstay Pilsissimus Export is available year-round, as is a new Dunkles (dark) beer.  The excellent flagship brew St. Jakobus Blonder Bock (7.5% alcohol), is now only available some of the time, (not at the time of our visit, unfortunately). In addition, a new, slightly weaker summer Helles is available from May to October. Finally, there is a special Weizenbock (strong wheat) and Christmas edition dark lager available in limited batches during the Christmas season. Beer is now available in half-litres as well as traditional litre mugs, (it was litres only in the pub and beer garden after 4pm; not always a wise move with the 7.5% Bock!). Finally, there are weekday lunch specials, and regular evening entertainment.

Finally, one other pub with a beer garden attached that is worthy of a visit, is Waldgaststätte Bienenheim which, as the first part of its name suggests is in the middle of a forest. The second part of the name translates as “bees’ home”. Situated just outside the suburb of Lochhausen, Waldgaststätte Bienenheim is two bus stops, plus a short walk away from Lochhausen S-Bahn station. Its main attraction for the beer lover is the beers from Maisacherbräu; a local brew from a company based in the village of Maisach, a few stops further down the line. 
Entrance to Waldgaststätte Bienenheim

The pub is simply furnished and quite rustic in nature, and the beer garden itself is quite small. Don’t make the mistake that we did of following the waitress’s recommendation to try the “spicy, full beer”. It was very nice, but turned out to be an unfiltered 6.3% pale Bock; not the beer to be starting an evening’s drinking on! The unfiltered Maisacher Kellerbier was a more sensible, but equally good tasting alternative.

There are of course, many other interesting places to drink in and around Munich, and lots of interesting beers to enjoy as well.

What We Did on Our Holidays is the second album release by the band Fairport Convention and was the first to feature Sandy Denny. The album showed a move towards the folk rock for which they later became noted.


Martin, Cambridge said...

Enjoying your Germany write-ups Paul.

I'm making a return to Nuremberg soon. If I make a day trip to Munich (my first), what would you recommend I visit ?

Paul Bailey said...

Pleased to hear you’re enjoying my posts about Germany, Martin.

Recommendations for a day trip to Munich? I’m assuming you will be going in summer, so it would be good to experience a typical Munich beer garden, and one of the best is Augustiner Keller, on Arnulf Straße. It is just a short tram ride (No.17) from the Hauptbahnhof, or you can walk there in about 15 minutes.

If you have a bit more time and the weather is sunny, head for the Englischer Garten and the Chiesischer Turm. Hofbräu beer, and seating for 7,000 people. There is a fantastic atmosphere there, especially on a warm and sunny afternoon.

No visit to Munich is complete without calling in at the Hofbräuhaus which, despite it featuring on virtually every tourist itinerary, still functions as a traditional beer hall. It’s busy, it’s bustling, it gets invaded regularly by coach loads of bemused tourists, but there’s a great atmosphere there, especially when the band is playing. No matter how crowded it is you will always find a seat. People will budge up and make room for you, and soon you will be clunking your Maß Krugs together with your new found friends.

If you are still in Munich come the evening, and want something good to eat, Augustiner Großgaststätte, in the pedestrian zone leading up from Marienplatz back towards the station, is a fine traditional, Munich beer hall offering good beer, good food and good service.

Have a great time. Paul