Was in Munich again this year for the Oktoberfest but arrived earlier than my friend coming on the bus from Switzerland. So having dropped my luggage at the hotel I headed off to the central bus station (right by Hackerbruke S-Bahn station). We had decided to meet in the Augustiner Keller gardens which is a great place to meet or just to go. Although this is just about 1Km from the fest it was completely deserted Sunday lunchtime.
Significantly the price of a beer is much less than at the fest but of course there is no atmosphere. Also they sell halves which might be important if you are “recovering”. This was my first beer of the day and I have to say was delicious. We later found that it tastes even better from the earthen ware jugs. I made sure that I sat under an umbrella here as the conkers are a problem (and painful). Returned here on our last day for lunch before boarding the bus, the front entrance with waitress service is recommended for eating.
There is a separate part of the fest called the Oide Wiesn which you pay to enter, but here there is a separate, calmer, world with two or three tents, old fashioned rides and crucially beer in earthen ware steins. One of these tents is an Augustiner tent if it’s your favourite like mine. Music is also tradition and we saw a remarkable demonstration of musical whip cracking – see this old youtube clip.
Just 10 more years to the 700th anniversary of this brewer – Be there!
So normally I would list a beer and some notes about it but this week I have been working my way through a box set I was give on my birthday. They’re all the rage! This time the box set is a box set of beer and they are all excellent. They fit my criteria of being not too strong and great tasting. Some of them are reviewed elsewhere on the site but I want to mention some which were more unusual or anyway unknown to me.
Banks’s Bitter, this one from Wolverhampton, slightly darker and strangely slightly less strong at 3.8%. I ready on the back that “A bitter that resonates with tangy and refreshing flavours that only Fuggles and Goldings – the twin masterpieces of the English hopgrower’s artn can deliver”. Well I don’t know about that but the it makes a wonderful accompaniment to a BBQ (I don’t mean the eating bit I mean the blokes standing around burning things), something else with the eating maybe. Excellent.
Next, Jennings Cumberland from the Castle Brewery. It is called a Deep Golden Ale, I don’t know if the water from the lake district or what but I found this a really refreshingly different beer – maybe a perfect summer drink at just 4%. Definitely recommended.
Anyway they are all good and I’m off to find any other box for the weekend barbie!
Two weeks ago (no I haven’t just recovered) we had a local beer festival and there is another up the road this weekend. There were 14 beers on offer and could be bought in 1/3, 1/2 and 1 pints. This meant that they could be tasted and you still get home in a sensible state. Cronx http://www.thecronx.com/ and Clarence & Fredricks http://www.cfbrewing.co.uk/were represented, neither of which I had heard of but are local Croydon breweries. I’m not going to go through all the beers here because I’m not sure I can review them sensibly but what it has done is given me some new names that I can sample in a more objective way. There were some old favourites here as well from Youngs and The Westerham brewery as well as many I hadn’t seen; my wife was a little surprised when I ordered a Long Blonde (http://www.longmanbrewery.com/).
This was the 40th year since I first went to Oktoberfest in 1972 after the Olympics, and I’ve been most years since. Then I was in a VW camper with a bunch of guys and we had been driving around Europe, spending a month or more in Greece with the hippies. On the way back we went through Hungry and Czechoslovakia (as it was until January 1st, 1993). We re-entered Germany on the Nuremberg road and picked up an Australian hitch hiker who told us that the Oktoberfest started that day – so off we went. We lasted a whole week in those days now we are down to a few days!
So as usual flight from Gatwick at crack of dawn and checked into the hotel (need to do this first or else!). We went straight to the Hippodrome tent and sat in the garden, Sparten is one of my favourite beers and we always start here. I was very nervous about the weather but it all held up well for the three days we were there. My travelling companion is a smoker and there is no smoking in the tents anymore. The Hippodrome is a smaller tent but the size of these things has to be seen to be appreciated and there are great videos of them putting the site together on Youtube.
We sampled three or four more tents and their beers including the Paulaner Weissbier, I can’t remember seeing this little corner that sells only Weissbier before but it makes a refreshing change. Unfortunately at this stage I can’t remember which of this family of beers we actually sampled but it sure wasn’t one of the no alcohols ones! I also forgot to take pictures!
This went on for two more days and and on the day we were to go to the airport we went for our favourite location for lunch: the Lowenbraukeller (go to Stiglmaierplatz station or walk from the Hauptbahnhof). This is without doubt the best place to drink Lowenbrau – maybe it doesn’t travel I don’t know but it’s great here. Try the sausages, Wiener Schnitzel or if you feel like a family roast for four to yourself the Schweinshaxe (actually you can now get a cut down version). Brilliant. I apologise for drinking half litres here but it was the third day, and I didn’t have just one.
Now normally at this point my drinking companion would head for the station and I would head for the airport but for once he had decided to fly so we headed out to the airport together. The airport has grown and grown and now has two terminals with a large covered open area between them (I don’t normally venture here but we were flying from different terminals) and what did we find there but micro brewery Airbrau with its own beer garden – where else in the world is there an airport with a microbrewery? And it’s 2/3 the price of in town drinking so why not just stay there.
One last thing when you fly to Munich seek out one of the helpful assistants at the S-bahn ticket machines and make sure you get the best tickets for your stay – we bought a family (several adults and children and a dog) go anywhere 3 day ticket because we wanted to go out to he lakes south of the city for less frantic lunches but there are many options and its worth getting help as you can save a fortune. These family tickets make sense even if there are only two of you but with three or four its a big save.