Prepping for a Beer Trip to Munich

by Billy Broas

munich-gateIn early May I’m taking a beer trip to Munich, Germany. You could say that I’m excited.

In 2006 I spent a day in Munich while traveling in Europe. I almost wish I hadn’t because it was so much fun I didn’t want to leave. It’s been a while, but I’m finally going back.

I want to make sure I do it right though, so I thought I would share with you my plan of attack. I also know that many BillyBrew readers have been to Germany and I’d be an idiot to not tap into that knowledge. I’ll be traveling with my photographer aka Dr. B aka Dad. He’s always wanted to go to Germany and I’m glad we can do this trip before he becomes an old(er) fart.

Here is the gist of the trip:

  • 7 days in Munich and visiting other parts of Bavaria.
  • Will use the excellent (and cheap) MVV public transportation system
  • Breweries – lots of them. There are the obvious ones right in Munich – Schneider, Hofbräuhaus, Spaten, Paulaner, etc. The tough part is narrowing down the ones outside of Munich to visit. Weihenstephan is a must. As is Ayinger. I’d also really like to see Kloster Andechs and Weltenburg. Salzburg isn’t even that far…
  • Beer gardens – lots of these too.
  • Will visit Bamberg, home of many Rauchbier producers like Schlenkerla as well the Weyermann malting company. Bamberg is a bit of a hike from Munich and I’m seriously considering spending the night there to take full advantage of it.
  • Frühlingsfest is like a mini-Oktoberfest and will be taking place while we’re there. It looks ridiculous and I don’t think we should miss it.
  • Assuming we survive to the end of the trip we’ll do a day that is (gasp) not centered around beer. I’m dying to visit Neuschwanstein Castle so we will travel there. Hopefully the castle tour serves beer…

How am I preparing for the trip? I’ve been doing my homework for sure. Here is what I’ve found especially useful.

Books and Blogs

How could do I do this trip without The Beer Drinker’s Guide to Munich? It has very detailed guides on breweries and beer gardens with maps and essential travel info. It doesn’t go much into the beer itself, but for an American traveler unfamiliar with the city it is as the cover says, indispensable.

Brewing with Wheat has also proved very helpful as has Stan’s blog of course.

Speaking of blogs, Beervana has been another great source of info. Lucky for me, Jeff is in the middle of writing a beer book and has had some stellar posts recently about Germany.

Beer

In the past I would glance at the German beer section, raise an eyebrow at the impossible names, and move on to the American craft beer selections. Sure I’ve had the flagships from the big names, but I never ventured much outside of that territory.

Lately, however, I’ve made an effort to drink my way through the entire lineups of German breweries. I want to be familiar with them when I’m there as well as answer that age-old question, “Is it really better at the brewery?” I’m guessing the answer is “yes”, but I want to find out for myself ; )

Duolingo

The German language is tough and I didn’t take it in school. I’m not expecting to be able to have a conversation in German but I would like to read basic signs, menus, etc. and know how to pronounce things correctly. I’ve been using Duolingo for language learning and have progressed pretty quickly. It’s been shown to be as or more effective than Rosseta Stone, not to mention it’s free. Do check it out.

Duolingo doesn’t focus much on beer though and those brewery names are tricky. I was able to find this gem of a playlist on YouTube with German brewery pronunciations. Don’t feel bad if you’ve been way off on some. I have too.

Any tips?

As I said above, I’d be foolish not to ask for reader feedback. Who’s been to Munich? Have any tips?

billybrew-hba-banner

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

David March 28, 2013 at 7:45 pm

AWESOME! I’m excited for you!

I also spent some time in Munich in 2006. I’m not sure how much this will help with your planning, but here’s a recap of my fairly ridiculous experience: http://www.localbeerblog.com/2011/09/remembering-oktoberfest-2006-in-munich.html

Have a great time, man! Can’t wait to read about it!

Reply

Billy Broas March 28, 2013 at 9:37 pm

Hey David, great post. Oktoberfest looks wild and it’s on my bucket list to go to it in Munich some day. I had an eerily similar experience to you when I was there. It was also in 2006 but in the summer during the World Cup. The place was nuts. We mainly hung out in the Hofbrauhaus and after three tries, managed to sneak out one of the liter mugs which I still have. My buddy and I were too cheap to get a place to stay so we also ended up sleeping in the train station. It was an unforgettable day for sure.

Reply

Jack Perdue March 30, 2013 at 7:45 am

Wow, you are going to have a great time. I took our family to Munich over Christmas 2011. A few things I would definitely recommend. To balance your beer drinking, whatever town you are in climb the cathedral’s tower. It may cost a few euros but the view and aerobic exercise will be forever memorable – be sure to take your camera. Do the Hitler’s Munich Tour (tickets at MarktPlatz). It will show you Munich like you would otherwise never see. And the tour guide is very knowledgable about local places to go. For example, he told me the Hofbräuhaus is for tourists and over priced and to go to the Augustiner Bräu near the domed church. Excellent choice (be sure to get the pretzel soup).

Yes, Neuschwanstein Castle is a must but you need to know there are two castles there, the other being Hohenschwangau. You will want to do both. Plan for it taking the better part of the day in that the lines were long. They do rush you through and you are not allowed to take pictures inside. It is a good drive from Munich, too. The autobahn is just fun.

If you drive you should understand the Germans take their driving very seriously. A few things to know, always stay in the slow lane until you need to pass. Do so, then get back in the slow lane. Always use your turn signals. Watch out for the B’mers and Mercedes coming very fast in the left lane. I learned the meaning of Dummkopf, literally stupid head, having been called that several times before understanding the rules of the road.

While you’re in that part of Bavaria you should look into Zugspitze. It is the highest point in Germany. The view is phenomenal and there is a beer garden there. Nothing like a Franziskaner at 9700 ft above sea level. Be sure to take the cable car rather than the cog train. The lines may be longer for the cable car but in the end it takes about the same time. Get a ticket for the cable car early, plan your departure you will be glad you did.

Hitler’s Kehlsteinhaus (Eagle’s Nest) is down that way too but was closed during the winter season.

We enjoyed Salzburg Austria so much we went back for a second day.

Being with my family I didn’t get to take in all the beer places I would have liked but it was a trip of a lifetime. Be sure, there is more to do than you will have days to do it, so do your research and plan accordingly.

Reply

Billy Broas April 3, 2013 at 8:50 pm

Jack, thanks for the thorough advice. Very helpful! We will visit the Hofbrauhaus because you have to at least once, but I doubt we’ll spend much time there. I’ve heard good things about Austiner Brau so it’s good to hear you confirm that.

It will be tough to fit everything in. Initially I thought about traveling to northern Germany in the same trip but there is so much to see in Bavaria I’m glad we’re not doing that. I’m sure this will not be my last trip there ; )

Reply

Paul March 30, 2013 at 8:18 am

I would add in the tour at the Erdinger brewery, it’s great.

Beer halls
1) Augustiner Keller
2) Hofbraukeller
3) Paulaner at Viktualienmarkt
4) Frankiskaner on Tal (bottom of marienplatz) for weissbier selection

Beer & food
1) Bratherzl at the Viktualienmarkt for sausages
2) Ayinger am Dom (opposite the Hofbrauhaus) for schnitzel

Beer gardens
1) Augustiner Keller
2) Hofbrau Keller
3) Seehaus or Hirschau in the English Garden and skip the Chinese tower
4) Hirschgarten

Reply

Billy Broas April 3, 2013 at 8:56 pm

Hey Paul, great lists! I completely forgot about Erdinger, thanks.We’re staying very close to the English Garden so I’m sure we’ll hit up all of its treasures. Can’t wait.

Reply

Ben April 2, 2013 at 10:37 pm

Sounds like you have it all planned out and will be doing it right! I was in Munich for Oktoberfest last year, and then again later in the year for some breweries (ie Schneider, Weihenstephaner, HB…all amazing). Life-changing for sure.
I’m sure there’s no time in your itinerary but I still want to HIGHLY push for Czech Republic if you have never been…obviously Prague is incredible and a bucket list MUST for all (where I lived the 2nd half of last year), but also Plzen is even closer to Munich in case you happen to have an extra few hours in your trip. Touring the caves of the famous Pilsner Urquell on my 30th birthday last year is something I will never…ever…forget. The unfiltered/unpasteurized stuff straight from the huge oak barrels is my fave beer on earth…period.
But yes, back to Munich – perhaps my fave beer city all-around – you can’t go wrong with all the knowledge you have…just ENJOY and do all that you can!!! Live it up :)

Reply

Billy Broas April 3, 2013 at 9:00 pm

Hey Ben, I remember you telling me you were going to Oktoberfest. Jealous! Great to hear the glowing review of Munich. If we can fit it we will definitely take the trip to Prague. That might wind up being its own trip someday though. I know who to talk to if it happens.

Reply

Ben April 3, 2013 at 9:18 pm

Awesome! Meant to tell you that if you do by chance get to Prague – take this bus: http://czech-transport.com/index.php?id=2604. It feels like flying first class, it’s so nice. And the trip is about 5 hours, so not too bad. Prost!

Reply

Flughafentransfer München April 4, 2013 at 9:25 am

I live in Munich and you should also try some of the smaller restaurants on the outskirts of munich. Its cheaper there and sometimes they even have their own beer.
You can also check this page for further information on tours through munich:
Flughafentransfer München
Cheers,
Paula

Reply

Billy Broas April 9, 2013 at 7:51 pm

Great to have the local perspective. Any specific breweries I should check out that an outsider might not know of?

Reply

John April 30, 2013 at 9:29 pm

I like the Augustiner Brau Gaststaette near the Karl’s Tor U-Bahn for best beer hall. Hofbrauhaus is too commercial and full of LOUD Americans. Andechs and Weltenbrau are great places to visit and eat. I think it was Andechs that only sold in the monastery (nothing shipped out) but I might be mistaken. IMHO, Oktoberfest is overrated (I think I have been 7 year, multiple times). My favorite fest in Munich was the Starkbierfest held during Lent. The smaller fests, even neighborhood fests) are much more gemuehtlich and typical German. The best fest i ever attended was a Stadtfest held in an apple orchard near the old border outside of Coberg. Is the English Garden still FKK?

Reply

Eddie Mac May 2, 2013 at 6:39 pm

Billy, I lived in Germany for 3 years and spent much time in Munich, Bamberg and the German Alps in the 90’s and was there last August with my family. Make sure you hit the Waldwirtschaft Garten “Wawi” on the outskirts of Munich. Don’t forget to try the schnapps and kasierschmarnn for desert as well. Augustiner is a great beer hall to hit as mentioned in other posts. Zugspitze, Neuschwanstein, etc. are all great places to hit.
If you have the time to hike in the Alps, check out this Alm(hut):
http://obere-maxlraineralm.de/
Prost,
emac

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: