Monday, 24 August 2009

Munich, Germany - July 2009

I was on the 8.30am flight out of Stansted on Tuesday June 30th 2009 and bound for Munich (7th largest airport in Europe) and arrived there at 10.50am (local time) on a lovely hot morning. It was a €10 ticket to take me on the S-Bahn 1 into the City and then the U-Bahn 6 (underground) to Harras (a lovely quiet area of the City) where I was staying at the K+K Hotel am Harras. All went according to plan and a lovely room at this four star hotel was ready for me. With some 47,000 beds available the City offers a wide range of accommodation for all tastes and budgets.

Travelling on public transport in Germany is a sheer delight as every thing is so efficient and clean. As the underground was immediately outside the hotel I got the train to Marienplatz and had a look round the City and its lovely buildings. Louise and Grant were travelling from Edinburgh and were due to arrive at the airport at 4.50pm and we were to meet up at Marienplatz after they checked into their hotel.

In July last year I had stayed a few days with Louise and Grant in a flat they had rented in the City and had a great time in this lovely City and a days visit to Tegernsee where Grant and I got to the top of Mt. Wallberg at 1,722m. Grant is to be in the City once again to “worship at the alter of hops” and make an in depth study of beer halls, gardens and monasteries!! He is an expert on Bavarian beers so here again I was hoping to “sup a few”. While waiting I did decide to visit a couple of our old haunts to try out the beers.

Grant and Louise are to be in the City until Tuesday 7th July when they return home and I leave on Sunday 5th July for three days in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, returning to the UK on Thursday 8th July. We are in the City to have an enjoyable and relaxing time, visit some of our old haunts and find new ones, in the City and out with. Tollwood Summer Festival 2009 (18/6 – 12/7/09) was on at the Olympiapark and we did enjoy a lovely evening there on Thursday 2nd July. Our visit to the Marrakech Tent (part of the festival) was very memorable. The park was created for the 20th Summer Olympic Games in 1972. This is a beautiful sports landscape with sweeping roofs, a 290 metre high tower and an artificial lake. On Saturday 4th July we started at the Waldwirtschaft Großhesselohe (Wa-Wi.) beer garden, above the ISAR Gorge, south of Munich, famous for its Jazz. We wandered down stream to visit Grant’s mate at the Seehaus Hinterbrühl and went to watch rafts (the Bavarian pastime of Floßfahrt) race down the River Isar where lots of people were having ever so much fun. The Isar River comes down from the north mountains to flow through the city to the south. The river’s banks and floodplains are ideal for walking, bicycling, jogging, relaxing and sunbathing.

Munich and Bavaria is a great place to visit all year round but May to September is the main tourist season. More than 60 million people from all over the world visit Munich, the capital of Bavaria, every year. It is the most visited city in Germany. Bavaria is Germany’s largest and most southerly state (sprawls over 70,550sq.km.) – “the land of Lederhosen and laptops.” Munich has a population of 1.5million people and is one of Europe’s busiest and liveliest places – “Munich Sparkles”. High quality art and music offered by internationally renowned museums and world famous orchestras attract enthusiasts of all countries. Few cities in the world offer so many star-studded classical concerts. Shopping facilities are wonderful with such a relaxed atmosphere. It boasts 58 theatres, 46 museums, 82 cinemas and 130 libraries and is a powerhouse of the IT and film industries, BMW, and Siemens but its centre retains a small-town feel. Munich is twinned with Edinburgh.

In Munich or in Bavaria you are never far away from a jar of amber ale. Internationally Munich is undoubtedly the Number One beer metropolis. Beer is Germany’s favourite drink and German brewers turn out around 4,000 distinctively different beers from some 1,300 breweries. More beer is consumed in Bavaria than anywhere else in Germany. German beers enjoy a loyal following around the world.

Most towns and larger villages have a brewery. There are spring and autumn beer festivals in virtually every town in Bavaria. ‘Prost’ is the toast. The Mass is a tankard that holds a litre. Beer has become an art form and is served with the greatest of care in specially designed elegant glasses for different styles of beer, suited to gracing the most sophisticated of dining tables. Beer in Germany may only be brewed using barley, hops, yeast and water. Brews are broadly divided into two categories – bottom fermented or top fermented – which simply means the yeast works from the bottom or at the top. Most German beer is bottom fermented.

Munich Oktoberfest began in 1810 and is the world’s “biggest keg party” for 16 full days between Sept and October each year. It starts on the 3rd Saturday in September, 19th this year. There are some 3,000 “Sister” – Oktoberfests spread out all around the world. If you cannot make the festival, you can still enjoy beers by the City’s six local beermeisters in a boisterous beer hall or a convivial beer garden.

Monasteries have produced some fine quality brews since medieval times and today’s monks very much continue to hold this tradition. Eleven German monasteries continue to produce beer. Kloster Weltenburg nr. Kelheim, north of Munich is the world’s oldest monastery brewery. Benedictines in Andechs nr. Munich produces Doppelbock Dunkel which is among the world’s best. Grant says it is the best although he does have another favourite - Augustiner. Founded in the 10th Century this lovely hilltop monastery has long been a place of pilgrimage, although more visitors come to “slurp” the Benedictines’ fabled beers. The nearby Braustuberl is the monks’ beer hall and garden. There are six varieties of beer on offer from the rich and velvety Doppelbock dark to the fresh unfiltered Weissbier. We enjoyed our visit here last year and again this year. Grant had such a thirst that he got to the hilltop (having walked from the station some three quarters of an hour away) ahead of me.

The world’s oldest brewery established in 1040 is the Weihenstephan Benedictine monastery in Freising, which is believed to be the oldest working brewery in the world. It is now part of the University of Applied Sciences, where the brewers go to get trained.

We take enjoyment in visiting beer halls and beer gardens and here are some in the City:
• Waldwirtschaft (Grobhesselohe) – a favourite with Grant and here top Jazz bands play all summer.
• Augustiner Braustuben (Hackerbrucke) – This is a very enjoyable beer hall with roof terrace selling Augustiner, one of Germany’s best beers and the food is traditional, tasty, plentiful, well priced with excellent service. My second visit and I look forward to going back.
• Andechser am Dom
• Braunauer Hof
• Hofbrauhaus (Marienplatz) – one of the few bustling beer halls left in the City. This is a traditional beer hall and beer garden for up to 3,000 guests. Probably the most famous beer hall in the world. I found the food good and if you want to dance this is the place to go.
• Hirschgarten – seats some 8,300 drinkers at one time.
• Augustiner-Grossgaststatte
• Hofbraukeller
• Augistiner Ustiner am Platz - another favourite in the centre of the City.
• Ayinger am Platzl (also just opposite the Hofbrauhaus)
• Viktualienmarkt - a good beer garden selling good beer in the City Centre Market area by Marienplatz.
• Löwenbräukeller
• Augustiner Bräustuben, part of the brewery complex, no 1 beer hall.
• Paulaner Keller
• Paulaner Bräuhaus
• Zum Flaucher
• Menterschweige
• Michaeligarten
• Fasanarie
• Hinterbruhl
• Franziskaner Keller
• TaxisGarten
• Weisses Bräuhaus
• Jodlerwirt
• Franziskaner Garten
• Harlaching Einkehr

This year we spent a day in the Englischer Garden, the biggest City owned park in Europe. Created around 1789 it stretches to 373 hectares (900 acres). Here there are a number of beer gardens:
• Chinesischer Turm – very famous beer garden and restaurant and enjoyable. The Chinese Tower was built over 200 years ago.
• Aumeister
• Seehaus – viewed by many as a tranquil island in midst of the pulsating city district of “Schwabing”and located on the shores of Kleinhesseloher lake.
• Hirschau – our first visit and very enjoyable.
• Osterwald-Garten
Further a field there are:
• SchloBgastatatte Leutstetten
• Waldwirtschaft GroBhesselohe
• Bräustüberl Tegernsee

Giant Breweries in Bavaria are:
• Paulaner
• Lowenbrau
• Hofbrau

As already mentioned there are over 4,000 different types of beer but here I mention a few:
• Pilsner (Pils) - most commonly drunk beer. Fermented beer of the lager type. Light coloured with a strong hoppy taste and aroma and a long dry finish.
• Hell or Helles – delivers a mild hop character with a touch of malt sweetness and is pale or light in colour.
• Weizenbier
• Maibock – spring beer. Actually called Starkbier in Munich, brewed for lent. The best is brewed and sold at the Paulaner Keller.
• Doppelbock – very alcoholic, smooth and complex and can be light or dark in colour.
• WeiBbier – a wheat beer. Available in two varieties – Hefe (cloudy) where the yeast is retained and Kristall (clear) when the yeast is removed. Both are full flavoured, spicy with a complex taste.
• Weizenbock – strong winter wheat beer with malt and fruit flavours.
• Berliner Weisse – white beer.
• Dunkles Weiß
• Dunkel – dark lager beer and brewed using aromatic malts. Tawny to black in colour, it has a full bodied flavour that is refreshing, enjoyable and full of character. Consumption, if slurping rather than sipping, needs to be watched!!
• Festbier – amber appearance and full flavour with a delicate malt sweetness.
• Bockbier – smooth, malty and warming – a delicious winter beer.
• Schwarzbeir – dark beer top fermented.
• Rauchbier – light smokiness.
• Spezi
• Kellerbier
• Alt – like the UK ales being amber in colour, smooth and well balanced.
• Kulmbach (nr. Bayreuth) comes up with the strongest beer in the world at 22% proof.

If you have not been to Germany then I would recommend that you do give it a try. Berlin is another City I would like to visit.

10th July 2009

1 comment:

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