BEER IN MUNICH -- BEYOND THE HOFBRAUHAUS




The summer months are a great time to visit Munich, as most of the restaurants put tables outdoors and people flock to the outdoor beer gardens. On a visit to Munich in August several years ago, Maureen and I enjoyed sitting in the warm sun and sampling beers and wursts at many of the restaurants in the old city center. Among our favorites were Spockmeier, which serves Paulaner beers just steps from the Marienplatz, Munich's main square, and the historic Augustinerbrau restaurant, located on the main pedestrian-only street, Neuhauserstrasse.



HOFBRAUHAUS




When first-time visitors to Munich head out on the town for a beer, most automatically head for the Hofbräuhaus, the most famous beer hall in the world. The state-owned Hofbräu Munchen brewery is also known for having the liveliest tent at Munich's Oktoberfest, the most famous beer festival in the world.

As we approached the Hofbräuhaus, located on Am Platzl square, and heard the music and crowd noise, it was easy to trace the incredible appeal for tourists from around the world: the Hofbräuhaus is like Oktoberfest all year round. The cavernous main floor is a non-stop festival, with an oompah band playing all day and night and everyone swaying to the music at long wooden tables while hoisting large glass beer steins. For a bit more quiet setting but similar atmosphere, the Hofbrauhaus also has a restaurant on its second floor. All told, the Hofbrauhaus has seating for over 4,000 people and serves about 1.5 million liters of beer every year.

To get a little taste of what a Bavarian beer garden is like, search out a table in the Hofbräuhaus' small outdoor garden, which has seating for 400 people. From the garden you can still hear the music and sing-a-longs from inside while enjoying the cool shade of the leafy chestnut trees.



HOFBRAUKELLER




What isn't well known to first-timers is that Hofbräu Munchen also owns a beer garden in Munich, the Hofbräukeller, that was named "best city beer garden" in a 1998 city-wide survey. A visit to the Hofbräukeller is a great way to enjoy the terrific Hofbräu beers in a low key, traditional outdoor beer garden setting surrounded by locals instead of boisterous tourists.

The Hofbräukeller is located in the Haidhausen section of Munich on the east bank of the Isar river, about a 15 to 20 minute walk from the Hofbräuhaus (or a 5 minute walk from the Max-Weber-Platz station on the U-Bahn, Munich's excellent subway system).


While it doesn't have quite the long history of the Hofbräuhaus, which was founded in 1589, the Hofbräukeller does date back to 1836. It also isn't as large as the Hofbräuhaus, having seating for just 1,800 people. But whatever the Hofbräukeller lacks in lineage and size, it more than makes up for with charming surroundings, as the large chestnut trees supply ample shade by day and at night provide the framework for a festive canopy of lights. While there is sometimes live music on the weekends, on most evenings the beer garden is filled with just the steady buzz of lively conversation. The Hofbräukeller is definitely family-friendly, with a small playground available for children.

The Hofbräukeller has separate seating for waiter service and for self-service, where the food is served cafeteria-style. Self-service proved to be the best way to go, with a variety of traditional offerings available at very reasonable prices. I enjoyed a succulent haxn, a pork knuckle roasted so it is crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside, served with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes, while Maureen enjoyed a delicious rotisserie chicken served with french fries. We accompanied our meal with the famous Hofbrau beers, including the smooth pilsener and refreshing wheat beer.


The Hofbraukeller is open from 10 in the morning to 10 or 11 at night all year round, weather permitting. First-time visitors to Munich should make sure to put the Hofbräukeller next to the Hofbrauhaus at the top of the list of must-see destinations.



Hofbräuhaus
Am Platzl 9
Phone: (089) 422-1676

Hofbräukeller
Innere Wienerstrasse 19
Phone: (089) 459-9250








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