06 October 2005

More from Munich

A couple more notes on the beers I discovered in Bavaria last week.

Double bock beers are produced by the main breweries at Easter time each year. These are very sticky, rich, dark beers, not dissimilar to the Trappist dubbel style. Löwenbräu's version is called Triumphator, and has a sharp, burnt taste to it. Paulaner make Salvator which is extremely sweet and obviously loaded with sugary calories: a beerbelly in a glass. At the brewery-run pub in Erding, I discovered Erdinger make something similar, a "weizenbock" called Pikantus. This has all the rich flavour of the double bocks, but incorporates a wheatbeer softness that is very pleasant. And it comes in a clay mug: always a plus! Lastly on this front, I happened on Moncshöf Schwarzbier. As the name suggests it is stout-black and tastes something similar, though lighter and with more of a charcoal character.

In a town so dominated by big beer brands, I was lucky to find a brewpub, even if it is run by giant Löwenbräu. Unions-Bräu Haidhausen was independent until 1921, when it was bought by the big firm and closed down. It was reopened as a pub in 1991. They had two beers on tap: Helles and Dunkel. The former was cloudy, unlike any other helles I've found. It had a dry, light taste and was good but unchallenging. The dunkel had a satisfying richness to it often missing in German and Czech beers of this sort, though it was let down by a metallic tang.

The main impression I'm taking away from the beer scene in Munich is the absolute dominance of a few big players, and this, no matter how good the product is, will always rank it below somewhere where lots of operators make a wide variety of products: Belgium being the prime example. Munich the Beer Capital of Europe? I don't think so.

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