I’m convinced Munich is heaven on Earth. Any city on the planet that features beer gardens and beer houses on their maps (marked with massive, overflowing steins) is a place for me. I encourage you to check out several different beer halls when you’re in Munich (they’re all over the place — in the middle of the park, smack dab in the center of a street market — literally everywhere), but you MUST stop by the world famous Hofbrauhaus.
Munich was the final stop on my trip to Europe back in June. Germany was the eighth country my mom and I visited on our whirlwind 20 day trip, so I was starting to wear down a little bit. Don’t get me wrong — I could have stayed in Europe forever, but I just couldn’t stomach another art museum or fancy church. I just wanted to eat, drink and be merry in the capital of Bavaria.
My mom and I were doing our best to trek around like tourists on our first day in Munich, but then the rain started dumping down. We’d already stopped at a beer garden in the middle of Englischer Garten, so I figured a pit stop at Hofbruahaus was the next logical step (it makes sense, right?). My mom wasn’t quite as excited about it as I was (she’s not into drinking, so she loves to see me guzzling beers — please note the sarcasm) We walked in the door and the Hofbrauhaus was exactly what I expected. There was oompah music blaring, beer flowing and people everywhere.
You can order your beer “helles” (light — Hofbrau Original), “dunkles” (dark – Hofbrau Dunkel), “weisse” (white (or wheat) beer — Munchner Weisse), “radler” (half light beer and half lemonade) or “russ’n” (white beer with lemonade). The light beer, dark beer, radler and russ’n are typically served in liter mugs at Hofbrauhaus (that’s 33 ounces — equivalent to almost three cans of beer), while the weisse is usually served in a smaller half-liter glass. Be warned — German beers are stronger than American beers. Hofbrau Original carries a 5.1% alcohol content (Hofbrau Dunkel is 5.5%), while a Coors Light is 4.2%. You can get knocked around pretty quick if you aren’t careful.
The common food at a beer house or beer garden in Munich is sausage (I’m partial to bratwurst), sauerkraut (with bacon), large pretzels and pork knuckles (exactly what it sounds like). The menu at Hofbrauhaus goes well beyond that though. It’s a real restaurant and a beer hall. While I stuck with the pork knuckle for dinner, my mom order some spaetzel noodles with cheese (egg noodles with Tegernsee-style grated cheese and fried onions). In my opinion — you can’t go wrong with Bavarian food. It’s the best!
Hofbrauhaus is committed to its regulars (many who still stroll around in lederhosen). If you take the time to walk around the beer house you’ll see the regulars’ steins locked away in the back. It’s basically a parking spot for their glass when they’re away (locked down like Fort Knox — literally called beer stein safes). There are also reserved tables labeled ‘Stammtisch’ — those are for the regulars/groups that frequent the Hofbrauhaus. You want to avoid those tables if you can. My mom and I knew that when we were there, but the place was packed (which is amazing because it can serve up to 5,000 people at a time). We were forced to sit at a reserved table (or leave — and that wasn’t an option), and no more than 25 minutes later one of the regulars showed up (we could tell by his fancy stein and the look he gave us when he arrived). We offered to leave, but he didn’t understand much English. He shook his head and waved his hand telling us we could stay. It only got awkward when the Hofbrauhaus server showed up and made it very obvious that we were at the guy’s table (even though we understood that before he showed up). It wasn’t a problem though (since it was his reserved table after all); we just got up and moved to another spot.
That’s another one of the great things about Hofbrauhaus — all the awesome people you meet. Before the regular showed up to claim his spot, I was clanking glasses (Prost!) with the guys at the table next to us. I’m not even sure where they were from, but I’m guessing it was Austria (I have no idea though). At the next table we went to, my mom and I met three guys from New York City who were in Munich for their friend’s wedding. After they left, two guys (they were photographers) from Brazil sat next to us. They weren’t the most talkative, so I sparked conversation with two dudes sitting nearby. It turned out they were from Buffalo, New York, in Munich for business. It’s easy to make friends at Hofbrauhaus and it really adds to the experience.
If you’re a drinker or not — you need to visit the Hofbrauhaus in Munich. It’s the most famous beer hall on the planet in a city where beer is king (just look at Oktoberfest – born in Munich — for crying out loud). The Hofbrauhaus is the best of Bavaria all rolled into one location.
Have you ever been to Hofbrauhaus? What did you think of it? I would love to hear from you! Simply leave a message below or connect with me on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Don’t forget — if you can’t travel the globe; experience the world with me at http://allaroundtim.com!