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Munich, Germany, November 2008

In November 2008, I went on a work trip to Munich, Germany. This is an extract from my blog.

10-13 November 2008

10 November

At Zurich airport on my way to Munich for the Electronica exhibition. Unsurprisingly, I'm sitting at a bar drinking a glass of Ittinger Klosterbrau. This 5.6% beer is brewed in Switzerland, but by Heineken. It is an amber colour with not a lot of flavour. At least I've got some German beers to look forward to when I arrive.

I arrived safely and on time in Munich and got to my hotel, which is quite nice but was surprised to see it making a big thing about the fact that they would SELL you bubble bath if you needed it.

I basically arrived, hung up my suit and shirts and decided to have a Augustiner night. Augustiner is Munich's oldest brewery and had three outlets close to my hotel, so it seemed a good place to start.

My first port of call was Augustiner Gro■gaststatten. This is a restaurant and beer hall on the pedestrianised Neuhauser Straße in the city centre and was for 500 years the site of the Augustiner brewery before it moved in 1885. I ordered a beer and some sausages, and the barman put some pretzel shaped bread on the table which I munched as I drank and ate the sausages. I presumed that the bread was free, as is the norm, but when I was given my bill, he then scrawled in biro an extra 1.8 euros, which he said was for the bread I'd eaten. I smelt tourist rip-off and complained, and eventually got that removed from the bill. It cost him a tip, as I then paid the bill exactly.

This rather soured what was a nice bar; the sausages were good and I had a drinkable glass of the Augustiner Edelstoff Hell, a light coloured 5.6% pilsner style beer, slightly sweet with a hint of metallic aftertaste, probably caused by it being served so cold.

On then to Augustiner Braustuben, the real brewery tap, attached as it is to where the brewery really is these days. This is a smaller beer hall, and less touristy as it is the other side of central station from the city centre. I opted for the Augustiner Ruß'n, which the bar maid told me was a white beer with spices. This was light and cloudy, very sweet with a hint of ginger.

The final bar of the evening was Augustiner Gaststatte at 81 Bayer Straße. The sign outside claimed it was a sports bar, though there was nothing particularly sporty inside. I did later discover it had a small telly showing Eurosports. This was near the bar and too small to be seen by most of the pub.

This was a small bar for a beer hall, seating perhaps 70 around small wooden tables. It was brightly lit with yellow and brown murals. Like most German bars, it seemed more geared up to serving food than beer. I tried the Augustiner Hell vom Fass, a very pale beer with a light taste, slightly bitter.

I grabbed a glass of Schöfferhofer Weizen from the hotel bar to take to my room and drink while blogging. This is light and cloudy in a tall thin glass, and not very nice - metallic and sour.

11 November

Not much to report today. Had a boring day talking to work related people at the exhibition, and got a bit stressed with one particular appointment that wasn't what it should have been (boo to Analog Devices). In the evening, I went to the Fujitsu do, which turned out to be an incredibly long multi-course meal accompanied by a poor band - I never realised that Message in a Bottle could be done that badly.

I returned to my hotel and had a night cap in a local bar. This was Multi Cafe-Bistro, a small cafe bar at 18 Arnulf Straße, just north of the central station. The bar was a friendly local that seated about 30 around tables and another 17 at the bar, though when I was in the total never reached double figures.

The beers on offer included draught Helles v Faß (which the barmaid said was about 3.7%) from Thurn und Taxis and a bottled beer from the same brewery plus various Paulaner bottled beers.

The Thurn und Taxis bottled beer at 4.9% was just called Thurn und Taxis Pilsner and was clear and bright, and slightly hoppy, better than most basic German pilsners. The Helles v Faß was refreshing but nothing special.

12 November

I started off at an Indian restaurant, in which I washed the meal down with a bottle of Cobra, before heading for my first port. This was the Unionsbrau brewery and pub at 42 Einsteinstraße next to the Max-Weber-Platz tube station. The upstairs is a restaurant, so I headed down to the beer hall in the cellar. It was packed when I went in as there was a function in the main bar where the brewery is, so the rest of us were shunted into a side room. Service was thus slow, and I felt a bit sorry for the solitary waiter.

I started with the Unions-Bier Hell at 5%, and I needed it after waiting 20 minutes for it. This is a light, cloudy unfiltered lager. Fairly basic in taste, not a lot of flavour but just a hint of bitterness that rescues it.

I then went for the Unions-Bier Dunkel, also at 5%. This was a dark red beer, but clear though it too is meant to be unfiltered. The burnt flavour you'd expect from a dark beer was there, but as more of a gentle back-of-the-throat aftertaste. This was much better than the Hell, but that's not saying much. It did grow on me a bit.

Back to the city centre and to Ayingers am Platzl. I did visit this bar the last time I was in Munich but I arrived just before closing time and didn't really give it a proper go, something I am glad that I have now rectified. It is on Am Platzl opposite the famous Hofbråuhaus and is the main Munich outlet for the Aying brewery.

I started with the seasonal beer, which goes a long way to explain the following day hangover. This is the Winterbock at 8%, a very dark beer with a smooth bitter taste, even the burnt flavour is smooth. There's a malty aftertaste.

Next up was Ayingers Naturally Stout Cellar Beer at 4.9%. Despite the name, this is not a stout but a very pale beer, unfiltered hence its slight haziness. The distinct bitterness is reminiscent of a Czech pilsner.

The third of the seven beers available that I tried was Ayinger's Original Dark Wheat Beer at 5.1%, a cloudy light-brown beer, sweet, refreshing and very nice.

I was then met by a fellow journalist who took me off to some other bar that I remember very little about.

13 November

Finally, a quick mention of the bar on the airside at terminal two of Munich Airport, where I had my hair of the dog. This is called Käfer and I started with the Hofbräu Premium Pilsner, a fairly standard pilsner. I followed up with the Kummulus Weißbiere, which was light, cloudy, sweet and sharp.


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