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Larger than life Munich

 

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Even the Munich airport boasts a brewery and biergarten, Airbräu, which has tempted many travellers on both their inbound and outbound journeys.

By: Stephen Beaumont

 

Make no mistake: Munich is a very modern city. The Bavarian capital has all the contemporary amenities one would expect of a major urban centre, from five star hotels to luxury boutiques to shiny, modern restaurants and bars. To reach the heart of the city’s beer culture, however, one must travel back in time to Munich’s remarkable collection of beer halls.

 

Almost every traveller who visits Munich, beer drinker or not, will wind up eventually at the Hofbräuhaus, or so it seems. Once the court brewery for Bavarian royalty, it is now one of the most popular attractions in the city, and at times resembles more a caricature of a beer hall than an authentic piece of Munich brewing history. But make no mistake, the Hofbräuhaus is very much the real deal, from its consummately fresh lager to its numerous Stammtische, or regulars’ tables, to the calm efficiency of the servers, even in face of an onslaught of merry tourists.

(Hofbräuhaus, Am Platzl 9)

 

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The Hofbräuhaus caught in an atypically serene moment.

When wheat beer brewing moved from the royal court with Georg Schneider in 1872, he bought the Maderbräu brewery around the corner and set up shop there, years before the next generation moved the brewery again, this time to Kelheim, north of Munich. The former brewery is today the Weisses Bräuhaus, a classic of city centre beer halls, with a casual atmosphere downstairs and a more formal ambiance on the second floor, and exceptional food partnered with what many consider the definitive weissbier throughout. (Weisses Bräuhaus, Tal Strasse 7)


After the Hofbräuhaus, the beer hall most visitors will most likely stop at is the Augustiner Großgaststätte, an expansive, 1500 seat landmark in the well-trafficked Karlsplatz pedestrian zone. Nearing 700 years of age and seen by some as the most fiercely traditional of all the Munich beer halls, with Gothic ceilings and murals on its well-worn walls, it boasts not just acres of character, but also one of the best helles lagers in southern Germany, Augustiner Edelstoff!

(Augustiner Großgaststätte, Neuhauserstrasse 27)


When you decide to take a break from the city, do what Münchners do and grab the local train, known as the S-Bahn, to Herrsching station, from which it is about an hour’s hike or a much shorter taxi ride to Kloster Andechs, the Benedictine monastery with a stellar brewery and beer hall. While pleasant weather could – and should! – tempt you out to the biergarten (see the Biergarten feature), the inside is extremely hospitable when the wind or rain picks up, cozy when it’s cold and high-ceilinged enough that it’s also airy in the warm but rainy spring or late fall. You may find yourself never wanting to leave!

(Kloster Andechs, Bergstrasse 2)

 

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