He’d lost his Tyrolean hat at some point during the evening but didn’t seem to notice as he lay in my lap mumbling, “Bella. Bella.” Since I don’t speak German and his English was poor, he decided to throw out some Italian, the international language of love.
Looking for an authentic beer hall experience in Munich? Try the Augustiner brewery for a chance to get up close and personal (maybe a bit too personal?) with the locals.
Oktoberfest is probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Munich, and the Hofbrauhaus is second. Cuckoo clocks? A distant third. So, after wandering through the festive Christkindlmarkt stalls in the Marienplatz, I rolled into the famous Munich beer hall and discovered something eerily familiar. But not in a good way. It looked just like the biergarten in Epcot Center. Oompah band. Buxom waitresses in dirndls peddling pretzels. To get a seat, you wander around and pounce the second someone begins to leave. It reminded me of a crowded mall food court. When I finally got a table, I was hardly surprised to find that the couple to my right was from Texas. On the left? Pennsylvania. I hefted my litre stein of dunkel (dark beer) glumly.
A couple of days later I took a guided day trip to Neuschwanstein, one of Mad King Ludwig’s residences and Disney’s inspiration for Cinderella’s castle. I rode up front and pumped the tour guide for information about the best beer hall in Munich. Without hesitation, she advocated the Augustiner brewery, located a short walk from my hotel.
Best Munich Beer Hall?
The place was hopping but, despite my lack of a reservation, the host said he’d fit me in and led me to a table where three gentlemen, one wearing lederhosen (the gentleman who wound up in my lap), were seated, The “RESERVED” placard on the table indicated the patrons were “Uli, Walter und Freunde”. Regulars get their own tables and, at some beer halls, store their personal steins in on-site lockers.
Although I prefer dark beer, my companions insisted I try the Augustiner Lagerbier Hell. The brewery claims to follow the production method originated by the Augustinian monks back in 1328. The beer is stored and shipped in wooden barrels, giving it a depth of flavor you don’t normally find in lagers.
When you receive your beer, the waiter makes a tick mark on your coaster to keep track of your bill. A quick glance at Mr. Lederhosen’s coaster revealed he’d had 11 beers, explaining his desire to burrow under my blouse and also making it very easy for me to roll him to the ground. His tablemates, Uli and Walter were delightful dinner companions. During my trip I’d found the Bavarians to be very reserved, but here at Augustiner everyone was quite loose and affable thanks to the constant stream of beer and pork knuckles. I bid the gentlemen “Auf Weidersehen” after a couple of steins; the high alcohol content of the beer was starting to make my head buzz and I needed to find my way back to the hotel.