Monday, November 1, 2010

Drinks Around the World: Hofbrau - Bavarian for Beer (Munich, Germany)


For most visitors to Munich, a trip is not complete without a visit to the world-famous Hofbräuhaus and a Maß of Hofbräu. While it has a mild reputation as a place full of young drunk backpackers, I discovered very little of that. However, the beer hall is extremely Germanic. An ompah band replete with players in leather shorts and feathered felt hats pumps out their traditional brass band German music with lots of people with lowered inhibitions singing along swaying to the rollicking tunes, rich with Bavarian gemütlichkeit. Bar women skilfully dart around the tables holding several large glasses (Maß) of beer, each a litre in volume.

The main beer is Hofbräu, a malty refreshing quite bitter brew. While nowhere near as exotic as many boutique European beers (such as smoky beer from Bamberg or the monastic beers from Belgium), Hofbräu is far tastier than most nations' commercial offerings. A darker dunkel beer is also on tap along with a variety of other beers.

Matching hearty German food is available including melt-in-your-mouth crackling pork knuckles and sausages (and several other pork dishes) served with vegetables that seem to be a variation of either potato or cabbage (potato balls, potato pancakes, sauerkraut, red sauerkraut). Don't they grow other vegetables in Germany? Staff wander the tables selling large pretzels if only a snack is required.

The beer hall has a shady and remarkable history. Hitler espoused his racist and incendiary propaganda outlining the principles of what became the Nazi Party in the main hall (and the quare outside) in the early 1920s and unsuccessfully attempted to seize power in 1923.

While the Hofbräu is touristy, it is a worthwhile afternoon or evening diversion during a visit to Munich and a chance to enjoy a tasty beer, good food and see a little German history (see the Hofbrauhaus short history video for more).
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At the start of every month, Travel Wonders highlights a characteristic drink experienced on his travel. Three previous beers have featured in this series: the Belgian classic monastery beer, Chimay, the unusual Lambic beers of Belgium and the most northern beer in the world (Mack Pilsner).

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13 comments:

Sherry Ott said...

Can you believe it - I still haven't been to Germany yet - but visiting beer houses is one of the main reasons I want to get there! Great post on history!

Anil said...

My father visited this beer hall years ago and highly recommended it to me as well. Haven't been there yet unfortunately but am fascinated with the history of it.

Mark H said...

@sherry: Get to the small breweries and you'll have a great tasting experience.

@anil: The history is so much of the appeal to my mind.

Heather on her travels said...

I passed by this beer hall when I was there with my parents last December - I was there to see the Christmas markets. My Dad had last been there as a young man with his friends 50 years ago. If you want somewhere nearby that sells hearty Bavarian food, try Haxnbauer http://www.heatheronhertravels.com/haxnbauer-munich-bavarian-specialities/

Mark H said...

@heather: Fifty years ago. I wonder what your father would have made of the beer hall today.

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