3 Bavarian Breweries To Visit Near Munich
Munich is a haven for beer lovers. Six big breweries dominate the beer scene in Munich: Hofbräuhaus, Löwenbräu, Augustinerbräu, Paulaner, Hacker-Pschorr and Spaten. These are giant breweries and difficult if not impossible to visit the actual brewery itself. Further outside of town, Ayinger, Kloster Andechs, and Weihenstephan Breweries can be found at different points along the regional train network in Munich via the Munich S-Bahn system. Located in Upper Bavaria, this threesome of historic beer towns, aristocratic breweries, and monastery beer gardens are just a short trip away from Munich proper You can combine a couple of these as day trips from Munich.
WEIHENSTEPHAN: THE WORLD’S OLDEST BREWERY
Weihenstephan is a place known for great beer. The very name of this historic old brewery is associated with some of the finest wheat beers in the world, including Hefe-Weissbier and Vitus, a smooth Weizenbock. If you have ever had a wheat beer from any brewery in the world there is a very good chance that the yeast they used came from Weihenstephan. Weihenstephan is not only home to one of the world’s most prestigious brewing schools, it is also the oldest brewery in the world.
WEIHENSTEPHAN: A ONCE MONATIC BREWERY OVERLOOKING FREISING.
Freising is located near the Munich airport. The history of today’s brewery dates back to the year 724 when St. Korbinian gathered twelve companions and established a Benedictine monastery atop the Nährberg Hill, Freising, a place destined to become a powerful and prosperous religious center. The monks could have begun brewing during the medieval period when there weren’t many written records, we do know some of the local farmers paid their tithes with hops and the only thing that hops can really be used for is to make beer but it wasn’t until 1040 that Abbot Arnold received the privilege of brewing and selling beer from Otto I, the bishop of Freising. It may seem like a long time to wait for brewing privileges, but no matter: Weihenstephan will be able to claim the title of the world’s oldest brewery on the reception of these privileges as they have written records of the beer produced every year since 1040.
The owner of a hop farm in the neighborhood of the monastery was required to pay a tithe to the monastery, which, according to the records from 768, he did in the form of hops. (Source: Bayrische Staatsbrauerei Weihenstephan.)
The monks had their fair share of difficulties in their early years. The monastery burnt down four times, was ravaged by plague and famines, and found itself in the path of European wars. It was even shaken by an earthquake. During the secularization of the Napoleonic era, the monastery had passed into the hands of the Bavarian state in 1803. So no more monks after 1803 however the beer tradition continued on.
A few decades later, the state took steps to elevate Weihenstephan’s importance in brewing history: it moved the Central Agricultural School from Schloßheim to Weihenstephan in 1852 — establishing a brewing school as well.
Before it became known for brews brewed on the Weihenstephaner Berg, Freising was a religious town with more influence than Munich from the cathedral on top of the Domberg. In this sense, Freising is a tale of two hills that have left permanent marks on the town of 45,000 people, many of them students. This is a picturesque town, a mix of narrow, Gothic lanes and opulent Baroque structures, pastel buildings punctuated by grand church spires.
The twin-steepled Mariendom, which towers above the Old Town, is the town’s most prominent landmark. The elegant interior of the Mariendom was designed by the same brothers responsible for Weltenburg monastery church, Cosmas Damian and Egid Quirin Asam. During the eighth century, Freising became a bishopric, which it retained until 1821, when the diocese was transferred from Freising to Munich. Today, the Mariendom on top of Domberg is the co-cathedral of the Munich Archdiocese and the Archdiocese of Freising.
In Freising, as with other Bavarian towns of its size, there are multiple breweries. Locals prefer the Hofbrauhaus Freising, while tourists gravitate toward the more famous brewery at the top of the hill. If you are in Freising for longer than a day, stop by the quaint Weißbräu Huber with its small garden and the Hofbrauhaus Keller a half kilometer away. Both have beers from the Hofbrauhaus Freising.
VISITING THE WEIHENSTEPHANER BRÄUSTÜBERL AND ITS BEER GARDEN
Once you have gotten to know the city and visited the Mariendom, you might have worked up a thirst. Taking a taxi or a bus from the train station or from the town center of Freising is best done by taking a taxi, Uber, or bus as it is somewhat hilly and does take a little time to walk it. It takes about 25 minutes to walk from the center of the town up to the brewery, time I would rather enjoy drinking. The route leads around the campus of the school, past the Weihenstephan beer gardens, and on to the Bräustüberl. The Bräustüberl at Weihenstephan is a cozy pub with wooden floors and dark wood furniture found right next to the brewery.
Craving food and liquid sustenance, as a pilgrim of beer, you may want to stop off before entering the inner sanctum of the brewery. However, I advise waiting until the end of the tour. If the weather is fine the panorama of the dark green shade of the Bräustüberl’s beer garden is impressive. The prices in the beer garden are also cheaper than going into the Bräustüberl.
BEER FROM WEIHENSTEPHAN
Now, some decisions should be made regarding beer. Since Weihenstephan’s non-wheat beers are seldom available in bottle shops, start with the 1516 Kellerbier or the Edel Pils. I am a big fan of Keller Beers. The hazy Kellerbier is like golden liquid caramel and is a well-hopped beer. Herbal notes converge with spicy pepper flavors before blending with malt notes reminiscent of graham crackers. This full-bodied beer is smooth, round, and lightly carbonated.
Edel Pils has a slim body that is crisp and refreshing. It does have one characteristic in common with the Kellerbier, though. It’s the hops — noble hops that are fragrant, spicy, and peppery. The spicy hops change into a bready maltiness and a hint of honeyed sweetness, followed by a round bitterness on the finish. In addition, Edel Pils looks super fine: crystal-clear in its tulip glass, with tiny bubbles bursting upwards as fireworks. Super.
The traditional Hefe-Weissbier is a soft blend of mild banana and apple cinnamon, with subtle clove, vanilla-accented light brown sugar, and custard dusted with nutmeg. On the palate, its peppery effervescence is matched with honeyed malt and a sugary note before it is followed by a crisp and spicy finish. People may think that there is banana or clove in the beer but the flavor and aroma is totally derived from the yeast. When fermented at different temperatures the yeast flavor and aroma changes, the cooler it is fermented the more clove while the warmer it is fermented the more banana. Weihenstephan is more banana forward IMHO.
If you would like something stronger, try Vitus, a honey-colored Weizenbock. There is a strong aroma and flavor that reminds one of a Hefeweizen, but the beer is more than that. The captivating aroma of this ale is bright brown sugar combined with marzipan, banana custard, and clove in a toasty base, with a sweet honey sweetness and tempered by a cheerful effervescence.
WEIHENSTEPHAN BREWERY TOURS
Generally, tours are conducted by advanced students of Weihenstephan’s brewing programs. However if you are in the beer business the tour might be conducted by the head brewer or the head of export. The brewery tour is a standard affair: There is a recounting of the history of brewing and an explanation of how beer is made, as well as a great deal of glittering stainless steel surfaces added in from that point — completely in contrast with the traditional identification projected by Weihenstephan’s branding of being the world’s oldest brewery. The brewhouse tour isn’t built on nostalgia: there are no polished copper kettles or trips to historic cellars as with Pilsner Urquel, in fact all 3 breweries in this blog are very modern. For an extra fee of 3 euros, you can participate in a guided tasting of Weihenstephaner’s brews. It is well worth the few extra euros. Alternatively, if you are an old hand at brewery visits, you can just enjoy the ambience at the Bräustüberl without taking the tour.
I must confess, I have never done the public tour. Since I was previously in the beer business I always had private tours. When I owned Papago Brewing in Scottsdale we sold a lot of Weihenstephan, in fact the U.S. importer personally relocated from the east coast to Phoenix because of us. I toured the brewery so many times that once the head brewer who was giving a tour got called away, and asked me to conduct the rest of the tour.
If available, inside the Bräustüberl you can sometimes find a liquor called BierLikor. This is actually somewhat difficult to find in Germany. It does not taste anything like beer but is a sweet and malty dark beverage.
They have a bottle shop and gift shop just below the restaurant and beer garden.
HOW TO GET THERE:
Freising is located approximately 40 km north of Munich. Depending on which train you take, you will need to travel 25 or 40 minutes from Munich’s Hauptbahnhof. If you plan to take the S-Bahn, take the train bound for the terminus in Freising rather than the nearby airport as the train splits along the route. Especially if you have a small group the Bayern Ticket is a very good option for day trips from Munich.
The Milchhäusl in the English Garden Munich – is a small beer garden in the English Gardens that serves Weihenstephan.
Kloster Andechs occupies a prominent position in German brewing history. Kloster Andechs was founded by Benedictine monks in 1455, and since that time has provided hospitality for weary pilgrims. The Benedictine Abbey of St. Boniface is now in charge. Kloster Andechs is the largest of the few original monastery breweries that remain in Germany. While it doesn’t carry the Trappist designation as some other countries breweries do as it is a different religious order it is very much just as holy. Although Kloster Andechs hosts upwards of one hundred religious pilgrimage groups per year, the monastery also hosts scores of visitors who are drawn to pilgrimage for a different reason: the world-class beer.
One of these days, hopefully—not too soon, you can raise a Mas in my memory. I plan to have my ashes spread out in the beer garden there someday. That is how much I think of this place.
FROM THE HOLY LAND TO THE HOLY MOUNTAIN
Had the Count Rasso of Diessen not been an adventurous sort, there would not have been holy relics that would have attracted pilgrims, no monastery, and no beer. It all began during Rasso’s own pilgrimage to the Holy Land in the tenth century during the crusades where he was reputed to have received relics from Christ’s crucifixion including a thorn from Christ’s crown of thorns, the veil his used to wipe his face, and a piece of the actual cross. The relics were buried on a fortress called Holy Mountain, the site of Kloster Andechs, so they would be protected against marauding enemy forces.
The fortress at Andechs eventually became the residence of Rasso’s descendants in the 12th century when King Berthold II forced his subjects to visit Andechs once a year to venerate the relics. Pilgrims flocking to the site prompted the construction of a church to provide for their spiritual needs. The first fresh beer was brewed in 1455, after the Benedictine monks of Tegernsee replaced the Augustine canons on top of the Holy Mountain on Duke Albrecht III’s command. Pilgrims soon were provided with more than spiritual sustenance, since hospitality was a tenet of the Benedictine order. What people consider to be Trappist beer is brewed by the Cistercians.
A HISTORY OF BENEDICTINE HOSPITALITY
Since the Middle Ages, Benedictine monks have extended hospitality to travelers. Beer was an integral part of that hospitality as it was safer to drink than water. In the 9th century the Benedictines owned and operated the monastic brewery in St. Gallen, an excellent example of monastic beer culture that foreshadowed modern brewing.
Benedictine monks were uniquely qualified to cultivate the brewing culture since they were commanded by the Rule of St. Benedict to live by the work of their hands. In practice, this meant monks were able to devote their full attention to crafts such as cheesemaking or brewing. The monks, unlike the peasantry of that time who brewed beer intermittently in the village brewery, amassed experience by brewing almost every day. In the Middle Ages, monks were also among the few who could read and write. They recorded their observations and experiences regarding the brewing process, sharing their knowledge with other monasteries in written and oral form.
As the pilgrimage attracted a great many pilgrims, the Benedictine monks succeeded in making it through the upheavals of the Reformation and the Thirty Years’ War without getting knocked off their stride. In 1712, with the monastery prospering and its brewery prospering, the monks were able to remodel their church in a Baroque style. In the wake of the secularization of the Napoleonic era, monastic activities in Bavaria were discontinued, but pilgrimage and the resulting beer were of too much economic and social importance to be neglected. Private owners continued to operate the brewery and its inn.
Eventually, the monks’ time away behind the brew kettles proved to be only temporary. King Ludwig I acquired the monastery in 1846 and envisioned that the income that it provided would enable him to build the Abbey of St. Boniface in 1850. In line with King Ludwig’s founding charter, the monks of Andechs continue to support the charitable work of the monastery in Munich with their business enterprises. While brewing is the largest enterprise among these, monks also distill schnapps, make cheese and bake bread with the spent grains from brewing. The monastery also has a butcher shop. It is really a self-contained area as much as possible.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE RELIGIOUS TO MAKE A BEER PILGRIMAGE TO KLOSTER ANDECHS
Although Kloster Andechs itself is still a popular religious site, beer pilgrims are numerous, particularly during a sunny summer of early fall weekend. Loaded with picnic baskets and backpacks, these modern-day pilgrims from Munich flock to the nearby town of Herrsching on any sunny weekend. A short taxi or bus ride up to Kloster Andechs is available from Herrsching or opt for a hike from the shore of the lake. If you have 4 or more people a taxi is cheaper than the bus and may even drop you off higher up on the hill. If you have a Bayern pass it can be used on the bus.
At the top of the hill, you can find a beautiful Baroque church where Carl Orff – the composer of Carmina Burana – is interred or head straight to the 2000 spots reserved for Kloster Andechs’s liquid bread lovers: the Andechser Bräustüberl with its huge beer hall, the terrace with its spectacular view of the surrounding fields; or the beautiful beer gardens in the shadow of the church.
Personally, missing the church would be a crime even if you are just going there for the beer. Don’t be afraid to explore any open doors you may find. The church has some smaller rooms that are worth visiting if opened. For military history buffs at the entrance to the church is an impressive memorial to local residents who died in the World Wars. seeing how many people died and seeing the size of the local town is an eye awakening experience to see how devastating the wars were.
THE BIER OF KLOSTER ANDECHS
The Andechser Bräustüberl does not serve the full Kloster Andechs beer line, but it occasionally serves seasonal beers on-site only (such as a winter beer and an Easter beer) in addition to the regular beers offered on tap. (They also have wine).
You can begin with a glass of Andechser Spezial Helles, a rich and flavourful beer reminiscent of freshly baked bread balanced by a subtle herbal hop cone note. Elegant, balanced with sweetness from graham crackers and a touch of spicy hops, with a beguiling hint of slate-like minerality reminiscent of stone fruits and a whiff of sulfur.
Then enjoy Andechser Weissbier Hell with clove and banana custard with cinnamon, brown sugar, crème brûlée, and floral perfume in the background. As a result of its creamy effervescence, this beer is suitable for those hot summer days in the beer garden when you gaze at the rural countryside.
And now for one of my favorite beers in the world. The deep copper Andechser Doppelbock Dunkel with its rich ruby red highlights is among the best there is — dense and luscious, like a loaf of dark bread topped with dried figs and dark cherries. An intricate combination of cinnamon, anise, and cardamom spice aromas adds complexity. Pleasantly effervescent, it is robust yet velvety, strong yet silky, yet malty the way it should be. Dopplebocks are traditionally only brewed by German Breweries only for the Spring season for Starkbierfest. Andechs however brews it year-round.
All of these beers pair exceptionally well with the food available at the Andechser Bräustüberl, which carries on the monastic tradition of provisioning travelers. with a variety of local favorites including giant pork knuckles (Hax’n), crispy roast pork in its juices, sausages from the onsite butcher, and giant fresh-baked pretzels.
Kloster Andechs offers tours of the brewery, but these tours are fairly standard affairs and not very often given in English. About the coolest part of the brewery tour is that it looks like a barn and not a brewery. Photographs are not allowed on the brewery tour but you can take pics in the church.
Getting to KLOSTER ANDECHS
The S8 S-Bahn train travels from central Munich to Hersching every twenty minutes. The trip takes approximately one hour.
You can choose to do what many people do and walk from Herrsching directly to Kloster Andechs or as mentioned earlier take a taxi or a bus that is timed for the train’s arrival.
If you don’t have the time to make it out to Andechs visit Andecher am Dom a few blocks from the Marienplatz. The food and beer there are just as delicious albeit it totally misses the ambience of visiting Kloster Andechs itself.
AYINGER, SMALL VILLAGE BREWERY WITH BIG TASTE
AYINGER : A QUICK GLANCE AT THE PAST
Ayinger is affectionately referred to as Munich’s “country brewery,” and we can see why. When you travel by train out of Munich, the cityscape gives way to an industrial fringe and then suddenly you find yourself on a broad green plain with gradually rolling hills to the north and the snowy peaks of the Alps to the south. Only 30 minutes away from the city, Aying is the perfect place for slowing down!
The brewery rises up on the outskirts of this picturesque village, where wooden chalets with their own individual character surround a white onion-domed church. Aying and its brewery present an interesting contrast. The rustic Ayinger Bräustüberl in the center of the village serves up hearty Bavarian fare like Tellerfleisch, a boiled brisket with veggies and horseradish, and Käsespätzle, a nice local specialty. However, the delicious beers that accompany the traditional food originate from a modern production facility that seems a long way from the carved wooden balconies and flower boxes that dot the town.
To get to the town you have to walk past the brewery.
Ayinger has been owned and operated by the same family since its founding in the nineteenth century, making it a relative newcomer on the German beer scene. Ayinger may not have the same kind of religious history as other breweries in the region, but it has risen among the German beer elite for a number of years.
Johann Liebhard had an entirely practical reason for establishing his brewery in 1878. He had inherited Zum Pfleger from his parents, which included a forest, farm, tavern, butchery, and butcher shop. He was now responsible for over a dozen farmhands and servants, and each of them was entitled to two liters of beer per day as part of their contract. Five years prior, another resident of Aying faced the same situation and simply founded his own brewery at the nearby Sixthof estate. Johann then followed suit.
By the time the brewery was transferred to the next generation, Johann had already acquired the Sixthof, which now houses the Ayinger Bräustüberl. The inn that now the Ayinger Brauereigasthof was built in 1923, and Franz Inselkammer of the postwar generation furthered Ayinger’s presence in Munich by acquiring the Platzl Folk Music Revue across the street from the Hofbräuhaus that today houses Ayinger am Platzl..
Most beer drinkers in North America first came to know the brewery as a result of its acclaimed Celebrator Doppelbock, You know the beer in which a goat is wrapped around the neck of the bottle. While this beer is good, there is much more to it. Even if you are not the most intrepid beer traveler, you will find it easy to board a train in Munich and get to Aying, walking the few minutes to the brewery or Bräustüberl, with its beer garden.
Aying is an easy day trip from Munich, or it can be a half-day excursion with a brewery tour and lunch that will have you back in the city by late afternoon. There is another way to enjoy Aying that is even more relaxing if you are willing to spend a few more euros: the Brauereigasthof Aying, next to the former brewery of Ayinger. The Inselkammers and their ancestors not only focused on brewing top-notch beer, but also on converting Aying into a complete beer experience, with good gastronomy and luxurious lodging. It isn’t cheap to stay there but it may be the nicest experience you have in Europe.
The location of the Brauereigasthof Aying is only a short distance from the parish church that bears the name St. Andreas. As the rooms overlook the Ayinger Bräustüberl, they tempt you with the seductive sound of its buzzing beer garden called Liebhards.
The dilemma is an entrancing one: a high-end meal featuring fresh local ingredients prepared with a cosmopolitan flair at the Restaurant August und Maria next door, or the traditional Liebhards Bräustüberl across the street. You might prefer to have your evening meal in the more casual setting of the Bräustüberl and reserve the more formal Brauereigasthof dining room for the deluxe breakfast buffet. If the ribs are cooking at Liebhards they would get my vote but I am a rib junkie.
The evening meal in the hotel restaurant though is quite extraordinary. During the day you may find deer roaming in a nearby park setting…waiting to be devoured in the future by future diners.
In addition to dining dilemmas, there is another reason why you may want to consider staying away from the hubbub of the city for one night: relaxation. Arrive in Aying in the afternoon, walk in the countryside and work up a thirst spend the early evening in the beer garden, eat, and then go to sleep before the tour of the Ayinger brewery the next morning. From the Brauereigasthof Aying, the distance is less than a kilometer, which certainly beats having to rush from Munich in time for the brewery tour.
A MODERN BREWERY TOUR WITH TRADITIONAL BAVARIAN BEERS
The tour offers a fascinating contrast between the past and present. The brewhouse was constructed in 1999 with a focus on sustainable practices to minimize the brewing’s impact on the environment. On the bottling line the pallets of beer are stacked on robots. Automated systems work to pump beer through miles of pipes that link the mash tun, decoction kettle, brew kettle, fermenters, and tap tanks, all in order to bring you beers with names that hark back to a bygone era like Altbairisch Dunkel or Kirtabier, a beer brewed for the Kirchweih church festival.
The tour guide will lead you into a maze of glistening fermenters to taste some young and yeasty beer, which will be pulled from the Zwickelhahn, a coiled tap directly connected to the fermentation tank. Ayinger’s approach to brewing is guided by deep-rooted traditions, none of which are visible here. In the beer, however, you can feel the commitment to tradition as evidenced by the malt body that can only be achieved through decoction mashing. As you ascend a few flights of stairs for the tour to reach its climax, you will see the tops of the open fermenters, another nod to tradition. The open fermenters are used for Ayinger’s luscious wheat beers.
Ayinger’s dozen or so beers are made with water pumped from an underground aquifer 176 meters beneath the village. The water is also packaged as mineral water and is rich in carbonates. This makes it an optimum choice for darker, maltier beers. The grain is sourced from farms not more than 50 kilometers from the brewery. Ayinger exclusively uses hops from the Hallertau region, located just to the north — Ayinger’s brightly aromatic and peppery Bairisch Pils is one of the finest Pilsners in Bavaria.
The brewery also produces a delicious beer called Jahrhundert Bier, first brewed in 1978 to commemorate the brewery’s centenary. Ayinger’s bready Lager Hell is quite rich, but the Jahrhundert Bier tips the balance in favor of spicy-herbal hops and smooth bitterness. The malt is more than a mere spectator here, as its layered complexity accentuates freshly baked bread, honeyed graham crackers, and blanched almonds.
Ayinger’s wheat beers are some of the best available. Urweisse is an amber Weissbier with orange zest and banana custard bolstered by toasty and sweet tones reminiscent of crème brûlée. Try Bräuweisse as well. This lemon-gold Weissbier is hard to find outside the brewery walls. It has the same flavor profile as the Urweisse but with a lighter body and more prominent citrus and orange blossom notes. If you are fortunate enough to visit during the winter months when Weizenbock is available on draft, you will be served some of the best wheat beers you have ever had. The beer is a delicious combination of banana custard, honey, nutmeg, vanilla, and orange goodness.
Ayinger’s Alt-Bairisch Dunkel represents the darker side of the color scale. Darkly hazy with a chestnut-ruby sparkle, this lightly hopped and malty brew promises fresh baked pumpernickel, toast, and malted milk with hints of coffee roast. Take some Ayinger’s Altbairisch Dunkel Unfiltered from the brewery’s gift shop for a special treatfor the S-bahn ride back to Munich. (Yes-you can drink on the train).
In addition, Ayingers’ Celebrator is a double bock beer with taut malt and notes of bitter chocolate, a beer that needs no introduction to anyone familiar with German beer. This dark brew is quite famous all over the world. However, Ayinger’s Winterbock has a rounder and smoother on the palate, with notes of cocoa and liquorice layered over a bouquet of dates, figs, licorice, and dark cherry.
The unfiltered and yeasty Kellerbier, brewed in tribute to Ayinger’s founder Johann Liebhard, and the tan Kirtabier is another beer to keep an eye out for. This is an unfiltered version of Ayinger’s wonderful Oktoberfest-Märzen, which is available in North American bottle shops during fall.
GETTING TO AYING
Aying is located about 25 kilometers southeast of Munich. In order to get there, take the S7 from Munich toward either Kreuzstrasse or Höhenkirchen-Siegertsbrunn and get off at Aying. The ride takes approximately thirty-five to forty minutes. The Bräustüberl, with its beer garden, is about a kilometer and a half from the train platform (no station), whereas the brewery is less than a kilometer away on foot. It is advisable you leave your heavy luggage in a locker in Munich.
Brewery tours are offered in German every Tuesday at 11:00 am, every Thursday at 6:00 pm, and every Saturday at 10:00 am. Tours in English can be booked privately for 150 Euros per group of up to 15 persons, and for 10 Euros per person for groups of more than 15. You can also e-mail ahead to see if you may join a group.
I am going to list two options in Munich. The first is the most well-known. Ayinger am Platzl is located across the street from the infamous Hofbrauhaus. The food is excellent and they tap a fresh wooden cask of Helles daily at about 5:00. Unfortunately, they no longer serve Horseradish soup like they once did, which was one of my favorite dishes.
The second option is a small hidden hole in the wall place located next to the Sparkasse bank near the Marienplatz called Jodlerwirt. It is not on any tourist radar even though it is located steps away from the Marienplatz. It is a good place to visit if you want to relax and listen to some local music.
Beer Garden Tips
1. In Germany do not order a “beer”
In Bavaria, what most people consider a Pilsner type of beer “Beer’ is generally called “Helles”. Most beer gardens stock beer a Helles, a Dunkles (a darker Amber colored beer) and a Weiss Bier (Wheat Beer). Order your beer by the style of the beer you want.
2. Be cautious when ordering “drinks for everyone”
In Munich beer gardens, beer is traditionally poured into a one-liter mug, or the Maß, or stein. Due to the fact that a full stein alone weighs over two kilos, novices will have trouble carrying more than three glasses.
3. You can bring your own food.
Munich brewers began serving beer directly at their breweries in the 19th century. To avoid rivalry with the innkeepers, King Maximilian I of Bavaria issued a decree in 1812 that allowed the serving of drinks in beer gardens, but not the sale of food. Even today, visitors to a beer garden can bring their own food, although they are now allowed to sell food.
4. Make room for strangers by moving up as far as possible.
Pre-Covid “Gemütlichkeit” (or coziness) is as much a part of beer gardens as the beer itself. Or, as stated in the Beer Garden Ordinance, “Beer gardens fulfil an important social and communicative function”. Because of this, you should move up if there is room, introduce yourself using your first name, toast one another, and make yourself at home. Since beer gardens have yet to reopen I am unsure if this tradition will continue or not in the foreseeable future.
5. The exception proves the rule
In terms of sociability, there are some exceptions. One cannot simply sit down at one of the Stammtische, because these places are reserved for regulars. Instead, you have to earn the right to be there. A Stammtisch can only be joined if an individual has been explicitly invited to do so.
6. Please do not request a fish knife.
Steckerlfisch (fish grilled on a stick) is traditionally eaten with your fingers or with a wooden skewer. Nothing needs utensils for eating it– the same is true for the Obatzden (the Bavarian cheese spread). The spread is often eaten with the pretzels directly.
7. There is an assumption that no one intends to drink alone.
You might get away with doing so in Prussia, but not in friendly Bavaria. The rule of thumb is: We should toast 10 times per stein. After that, however, you should decide whether or not to drink from the mug immediately or set it aside for a while. Unless you want to get trashed I suggest drinking no more than a Mas per 30 minutes.
8. Take care not to drain your glass.
The last mouthful in the glass is known as the “Noagerl” in Bavarian, and that is where it belongs in the glass, according to the Bavarians. Those who still drink it are called “Noagerlzuzler” – which isn’t an insult, it is one! Basically, leave your backwash behind.
9. Wash your mug.
Although this only applies to certain Biergartens such as the one in the Hirschgarten in Munich, it is also another wonderful Bavarian tradition. In order to save the staff some work, washbasins are provided so that patrons can rinse their glasses before getting a refill. You will see one of these in Kloster Andechs that the locals use for their own steins.
10. Please be considerate of closing time.
No matter how fine the night might be, a bell rings every evening at around 10:30 p.m. (earlier at Andechs) to indicate closing time. When the lights come on and go off at most for half an hour, it really means that is it. In the end, it is best to conclude on a high note.
If you enjoyed our content, we'd really appreciate some "love" with a share or two.
And ... Don't forget to have fun!