It was gone 10am by the time Kieron, Brian and I landed in Munich, so well past beer o'clock local time. The city that will do her level best to get beer into you at all times in all places has a convenient brewpub at the airport and that was our first stop. Trade was sparse at Airbräu: just a handful of business types catching up over weissbier and pretzels, plus a couple of families fishing for weisswurst in giant steaming bowls and washing it down with yet more weissbier. Heathens that we are, we ordered the pils. Fliegerquell is served unfiltered, with a light carbonation which does wonders for its powers of refreshment and quick drinkability: perfectly engineered for the modern air traveller. Some lovely fresh citrus comes out on the nose and the flavour combines this with a dry wheaty spiciness. A great start to the three-day trip.
Having caught up with Barry who had travelled over from Baden-Württemberg and thrown down a few tasty wheat beers at Schneider's Munich tap, the next stop was lunch in a specialist sausage place next to the Victualienmarkt. It was a Hacker-Pschorr house and the speciality was Edelhell served from the holzfass, a small oak barrel behind the counter. It had a pleasant grassy noble hop aroma but was otherwise a rather dull affair: clean, bright, but boring. By the time Mark, Jon and Rudi joined our party I was ready to move on.
The main reason for our visit was BrauKunst Live!, a beer festival out at the MVG transport museum which filled the rest of the day and will feature in later blog posts, but on the following day our first port of call was the Ayinger Wirtshaus, just across the way from the Hofbräuhaus but altogether more classy, in both décor and clientele. I kicked off with the translucent yellow Ayinger Kellerbier, a lovely sweet and fruity lager with a hint of weissish banana to it. The Bayrischer Dunkel wasn't quite on the money, avoiding being heavy but a bit too fizzy instead and while the caramel flavours were nicely muted there was also a slightly unpleasant metallic twang.
To the suburbs next, and the Forschungsbrauerei: a rambling inn with an attached microbrewery set in a rather desolate semi-rural neighbourhood next to the train line. Seasonal of the moment here was St Jakobus, billed as a blond bock. I ordered one before remembering that pale German bock is consistently one of my least favourite beer styles. It's a whopping 7.6% ABV, though how blond it actually is remains a mystery as it arrived in a stein. The flavour is intensely grainy, like inhaling the dust from a maltsack. Thankfully the inevitable strong nettle flavour, which is what usually turns me off bocks, was subdued under the malt. At the same time it wasn't overly sweet, invoking cream soda and vanilla ice cream from the tasting committee around the table.
The two year-rounders on the menu were a pale lager and a dunkel. Despite the name, Pilsissimus is billed as an export rather than a pils, and it certainly has that warming fullness typical of the style. The highlight was the Naturquell Dunkel, a shade or too paler than would be normal for Munich dunkel and with a gorgeous smooth chocolate raisin flavour instead of caramel stickiness. Brian said he could have stayed there drinking it all evening and I'd have joined him.
But back to the city again for a bit of pub-hopping, between the cosy camaraderie of the Augustiner-Keller, the post-football insanity of Andechs Am Dom, and what's probably an every-Saturday-night insanity of the Hofbräuhaus and Schneider. The only new tick was Tegernseer Hell, quite a bitter version of a Munich helles, pale to the point of being almost green and pleasantly bitter and herbal. As we started winding things up on Sunday afternoon I noticed Löwenbräu Urtyp on a menu, a beer I wasn't previously aware of. It arrived bottled and is 5.4% ABV. It's another very full-bodied malt-forward golden lager but not especially sweet. It reminded me a lot of the Oktoberfestbiers and it's nice to know something like them is available out of season.
So that's the sort of thing one might get up to on a typical weekend break in Munich. But this wasn't just any weekend in Munich...
Westmalle Dubbel - *Origin: Belgium | Date: 2008 | ABV: 7% | On The Beer Nut: October 2007* It's a longtime favourite today. Westmalle Dubbel goes back to the very beginnings...
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