Munich: It's not just beer, it's a tradition
September 11, 2003
Beer is a staple in Munich.
There are more than 100 beer gardens in the Bavarian capital and even more beer halls, pubs and restaurants where brew is served.
That does not mean the citizens of Munich are a bunch of drunks. Most handle their alcohol quite well, and beer, still brewed only with water, hops, malt and grain, according to a purity law established in 1487, is part of their culture. Sad to say most of the inebriated people you see at the Oktoberfest or at the Hofbräuhaus are tourists.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy the beer when in Munich, just do it responsibly.
Remember, in most beer gardens and halls and at the Oktoberfest, the beer, called a Helles, will be served in a liter glass, known as a Maß. Wheat beer — known as Weizenbier or Weissbier — is usually served in a half-liter glass but is more potent than a Helles. Most breweries also brew a Dunkles, a dark lager, that is worth a try. Another popular drink at halls and gardens is a Radler, beer mixed with lemonade. It usually is served in half-liter mugs.
Here are some of the favorite places to imbibe:
¶ The Hofbräuhaus is the most famous beer hall in Munich, but at night it is fully in tourists’ hands. The Hofbräukeller, across the river on Innere Wiener Strasse, on the other hand is popular with the locals and features both a beer hall and garden.
¶ The Augustiner Großgaststätte on pedestrian Neuhauser Strasse is popular with both locals and tourists and serves good food. If the tables on the street are full, check inside and in the beer garden out back. It is huge.
¶ The Augustiner-Keller, both beer hall and garden, on Arnulfstrasse north of the tracks running into the main train station, is full of locals, because the only tourists who show up here are the ones looking specially for it or those who take a wrong turn coming out of the train station.
¶ The Löwenbräu Keller at Stiglmaier-Platz on Nymphenburger Strasse is home to this popular beer that is brewed under license around the world. Both the beer garden and the restaurant are popular.
¶ The Hirschgarten, on Hirschgartenallee near Nymphenburg Palace, is a favorite and traditional beer garden.
¶ The small beer garden at the Viktualienmarket downtown and the one at the market at Elizabethplatz in Schwabing are great for their atmosphere.
¶ The beer garden at the Chinesischer Turm in the English Garden also is worth checking out.