ALE Autumn 2001 No. 304

The Lambic Monster on tour in Munich

One Friday afternoon myself and my deputy bar manager could be spotted in Stansted Airport, for a weekend trip to Munich - in the interests of research, of course! We were travelling with GO, but we didn't GO on time. The plane for our flight out was late in from Spain, due to congestion at the airport it left; then there weren't enough baggage handlers on duty at Stansted to manage the luggage in time - and people moan about the railways!

Still, we were only an hour late, although by the time we collected our luggage, found the right train ticket, got to our hotel, dumped our bags and made our way into the centre, all the bars were closed.

Arrgh, we needed beer! Fortunately, we found a sausage snack shop still open, which was also selling Spaten beers. A couple of glasses of Spaten Hell, along with Bockwurst sausage, went down excellently. And then on our way back to the hotel we found a late-night eatery that was selling Schneider beers, so we just had to have a couple of Schneider Weisse and Helles to round off the evening.

Our lodging for the weekend, Hotel Einhorn, is recommended: a mere five minutes' walk from the station in Paul-Heyse str, and about 30 a night each for b+b.

As Bayern Munich were playing at home on the Saturday, we went out of town and away from any possible trouble - and in search of more beer. A Partner ticket allows travel for up to five persons for 5 for the day in inner rings 1 to 4. We got 2 of the outer rings as well for about 5.50 (LT eat your heart out!).

So off we set with the Graham Lees guide to Munich and Bavaria [The Good Beer Guide to Munich and Bavaria by Graham Lees, CAMRA Books]. As long as you don't mix up your U and S, the map is very easy to follow.

First stop was Brauereigasthof Gmeinder at Deisenhofen. We found the brewery after a struggle, as it is now called Privater Brauereigasthof Gambrinus, although the Gmeinder plaque has been retained on the entrance to the bar. It is a large eating house, but they don't mind you having a few beers. The menu looked good. The Weissbier is brewed and bottled in the brewery next door, and is very good, having a very slight tang. Worth the trip out to find it. The beer garden looked good, but as rain was threatening, we stayed inside.

Next stop was the Forschungsbraustuberl, at Perlach. The beers here were excellent, although after 4 p.m. you can only have steins of the draught beer. Both the St Jakobus Blonder Bock and the Pilsissmus were excellent. By this time the sun had come out, and it was very pleasant sitting in the beer garden. The waiters and waitresses wore traditional Bavarian clothing.

We eventually forced ourselves to move on to our next stop, the Fliegerbrau in Feldkirchen. The bar has a strong aviation theme, which appealed to me, as I am a private pilot. There are some excellent old photos, and you can also see the brewery. The food looked good, and the walled-in beer garden was very nice. The Weisse beer brewed on the premises was excellent, but we soon had to push on.

Next stop was Zum Alten Wirt at Krailling; to get there you need to get the minibus (no. 67) from the station at Planegg. Unfortunately, the Zum Alten was very closed, and looked like it has just undergone a massive refurbishment. Although we couldn't get any information, it looks as though it will remain a bar, so it may be worth investigating on a future trip.

So we trudged another five minutes along the road to Brauereigaststatte, which has a huge, and by now very welcome, beer garden. The bar is very old and is worth a look inside for the wood panelling. The beer range was Kraillinger Hell (Exportbier), Dunkel, Pils, Dark and Light Weisse and a special Herenbrau. It was worth the walk, and again, a good-looking menu, if rather pricy. Fortunately, just as we walked out, the bus came along and the travel ticket was valid, so it saved us quite a few steps.

While we were waiting for the train back at Planegg, we noticed that Hacker Pschorr has a distribution centre on one side of the road, and Paulaner on the other. There was also a bar by the station that looked inviting, but as we were pushed for time, we carried on. The next stop was Isarbrau Gaststatte in the old railway station buildings at Grosshesselohe. A lovely bar, if you like old railway memorabilia, and you can also see the brewing equipment. Again, a good-looking menu.

The weisse beer brewed on the premised was excellent: refreshing and not too sweet, unlike most weisse beers. We also tried the Hofbrauhaus Altbairisch Dunkel, which was very good.

Although we were beginning to flag at this point, we decided to head back to town, and went to the Unionsbrau Keller, just off Max Weber Platz. We are very glad we did. This is a smashing little bar, steeped in history. The unfiltered Helles was excellent, and a couple were quaffed. It was a fairly quiet place, although full of people. Don't miss this excellent bar.

Having been revived by this excellent Helles, we decided to try for the Bambergerhaus, which is supposed to be open until 1 a.m. Although we arrived just before midnight, we were told that they were closing and wouldn't serve us. Avoid this place, as it appears they are unsociable.

We then had a long walk in the rain, as we had missed the last tram back. However, as we were walking back, we came across the Alter Simple, a couple of minutes' walk from the no. 27 tram route. Although there is now no unfiltered wheat beer, the bar is very lively after midnight, the staff are very helpful and friendly, and it is well worth searching out if you want that late drink.

After a quick chat with the bar staff, we discovered that there is a night tram and bus service, so we managed to get a tram back to the Hopftbanhof, stopping for a quick bite at our eatery, which was still open, with a Aventinus to finish a very enjoyable day off.

On Sunday we decided to stay around town for the early afternoon, but we didn't have a very good start. The Weisses Brauhaus (Schnider Tavern) was closed for holidays, so we popped into the Hopfbrau, which is very touristy, although most people appeared to be locals. The oompah band were very good, so we had a quick one and admired the bar, then left and had a wander around the town centre. Some of the buildings are fantastic; even if you don't drink, it is worth visiting Munich for the architecture.

We then descended upon the Augustiner Gaststatte (Augustiner Tavern). This is a very old beer hall, which does not appear to have been mucked about with. The food is excellent, and the beer - well, they offer the entire Augustiner range. Enough said. A couple of steins of Helles slipped down while we ate and chatted and just soaked up the atmosphere. Again, don't miss this bar.

We moved on to do some sightseeing, and made our way out to the Olympia Park. Built for the 1972 Olympic Games, it is still very impressive. There is a massive market here on a Sunday, with beer halls, fairgound rides, etc. - like a very small version of the Octoberfest! Bayern Munich play here, and you could tell there had been a match on the day before.

As it was such a lovely afternoon, we then decide to head for a beer garden, so we went for the Hirschgarten. Although quite a ride on the tram, it is well worth it, especially if you have a family, as it seats 8500 people, and has a bit for kids to play in as well.

It sells Augustiner beers, so we very quickly got settled and relaxed with cold Helles, which came straight from wooden barrels, in the very hot sun.

A note of caution here though. Watch where you sit. We sat in a service area, but didn't realise it: when I wanted a refill, I walked up to the bar dispensing beer. You have to wash your glass first, or you won't be served. Once I had got my beer and sat down, the German waiter came over and was rather upset. He seemed mollified when I told him I was sorry, and that it was our first time in a beer garden. He wasn't too upset later though, as we gave him a good tip!

One interesting point is that they have a milk float for collecting the empty steins - it's a big place!

As well as the main bar, there are other stalls that sell food and beer. We spent a very pleasant late afternoon relaxing here.

On the way back to town we decided to take a detour, and headed out to Deutsche Eiche at Lochhausen. Although the beers are now all from the Kaltenburg Brewery, it was very nice, with an excellent beer garden, and one of the best menus so far, so we ate here, and very good it was too.

We moved on back towards town to the Ayinger Extra up at Munchener Freiheit station, but unfortunately this bar (now called Treff) was closed.

As we still wanted to try Ayinger beers, we headed back to town, and went into a bar across from the Hopfbrau we had spotted earlier called Ayinger am Platzl. The staff were very helpful, and I purchased a souvenir stein from here. The Ayinger beers were very good. The food and beer prices reflect the area though, being a little pricy.

There were many more bars we wanted to try, but ran out of time. There is also a little Andechs bar down Falkenturmstr, if I remember correctly, but we did not get back to this, unfortunately.

We then went back to the hotel, as we needed to be up for the train to the airport relatively early the Monday morning.

In all, a good weekend, and apart from a couple of exceptions, it appears that Graham Lees' guide is still useful. We also have had some interesting ideas for next year's Foreign Beer Bar at Cambridge.

There is another guide available to the bars of Munich, although we didn't get to buy one. If you are interested, see www.beerdrinkersguide.com.

Beware Munich, the Lambic Monster will return!

The Lambic Monster, on tour!


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