Monday, 31 August 2009

Munich - Some Highs and the Odd Low

The eight days my son and I spent in Munich were mainly, but not exclusively devoted to beer sampling. There was of course the odd bit of sight-seeing, some shopping and just generally chilling out, but the real highs were sampling the excellent products of Forschungsbrauerei, our day trip to Tegernsee in its glorious mountain lakeside setting, plus a return visit to Kloster Andechs.

The lows, were not really lows but slight disappointments. Arriving in Holzkirchen only to find that it was a Ruhetag (rest day) at Brauerei Gasthof Oberbrau and not being able to sample Holzkirchen Oberbrau; no real worry here, we travelled on to Tegernsee instead. The other disappointment was travelling to Geltendorf, at the far end of S-Bahn Line 8, and discovering that buses to Kaltenberg (home of Prinz Luitpold of Bavaria, as well as his castle-cum-brewery), only seemed to run when there was an "r" in the month. Small matter, we travelled back into Munich and visited Maisacher Brauerei instead.

I must expand a bit more here about Forschungsbrauerei. We visited on a Saturday, which was the only rainy day of our trip. A moderate S-Bahn ride to Perlach station, followed by a short walk, through the rain, saw us arriving at this renowned brewery shortly after 4pm. The biergarten was obviously closed, due to the inclement weather, so we made our way inside the cosy Braustuberl. After being shown to a vacant table we ordered a half litre each of Pilsissimus, the brewery's everyday 5.2% lager bier, only to have it pointed out to us that after 4pm beer is only served in litre mugs! No matter, we settled for a mass each of this tasty brew, it arriving at our table in traditional, stone-ware mugs which have the advantage of keeping the beer cooler for longer on hot days (not that it mattered that day!) The place began to slowly fill up, by which time I at least, although my son chickened out, decided to try Forschung's other product, the legendary St Jakobus Bock. This is a beer that doesn't take any prisoners, and at 7.5% is not really a beer to be drank in litre quantities. Having said that though this brew ranks amongst the finest beers I have ever drank, being intensely malty with a well-balanced hoppiness. The Pilsissimus was also a superb drink, with a wonderful, almost peppery bite from the whole-leaf hops used. Both beers were by far the best we sampled on the entire trip, and looking back I regret not making a return visit later on in the week.

A word of advice if you are planning to visit Forschungsbrauerei; it is closed on Mondays, and only opens for seven months of the year, from March to mid-October. During the other five months brewer Stefan Jakob and his uncle Sigmund Steinbeisser concentrate their skills on brewing research for other breweries. This is still a real family-run enterprise, and I cannot emphasise enough how, despite my somewhat limited German, we were made to feel really welcome, and left feeling we had sampled a true taste of Bavarian hospitality.

That's all for now; more about Tegernsee, Kloster Andechs, plus a bit about some of Munich's hidden beer gardens in future posts.

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