Tuesday, November 8, 2016
The Biergartens of Germany
Beer is a way of life in Germany and the neighborhood biergarten is a way of life in the warmer months when all the people want to do is go outside and enjoy the fresh air.
You can find them almost anywhere, especially in Munich where over 400 biergartens call the city home and are almost on every corner. They are more numerous there than Starbucks is in the states.
Here are some of the outdoor brewpubs we visited while we were in country, in the order we encountered them...
Luftgarten (German for Air Garden) sits on the perimeter of the former Tempelhof Airport. It's relaxing, sunny spot. You can even sit in their beach chairs. Shade is a bit of a premium here because most of the area is open field without too many trees. A barbecue trailer cooks up specialties such as currywurst and there's a nice selection of Berlin brews to choose from.
It's also quite a walk from the nearest U Bahn station.
Berlin Zoo has a biergarten in the center, next to the kid's playground. As in most, there's a nice, shady outdoor area to relax with your brew and a snack from the adjacent cafeteria.
Nice, but maybe just a step up from your average zoo snack bar.
Café am Neuen See is the 'biergarten in the tiergarten.' It shows up on many 'best of Berlin' lists including this 7 Best Places to Eat in Berlin from Wanderlust. I can't vouch for the food...we just had dessert and beer there...but it is an amazingly relaxing place with tables set around a small lake under a forest of nice, shady trees. One of the few biergartens we found in Berlin that serve beer in liter glasses.
Moving on to Munich, the biergartens multiply exponentially here. Literally, we'd find one around every corner.
We had two in the immediate vicinity of our hotel, one of which we made our local while we were there, the Alte Heide. I did pretty much an entire post extolling the virtues of this tiny neighborhood biergarten that serves the best food we've ever had in Munich.
The Aumeister Biergarten sits at the north end of the massive Englischer Garten. Dating from 1810, it's big but not as big as some of the other biergartens in town. Very traditional space with plenty of outdoor tables and snack stands along the beer line. One of the places you can get the very delicious Auszogne (also called a Bavarian donut), though here they use regular sugar instead of powdered sugar to coat it. My wife really likes the dough they use here best, however.
It's at the top of the very forested north end of the park where there are dozens of trails for hiking and biking. It's very popular with both of those groups as a place to take a break in their activities.
The Chinesischer Turm is a massive biergarten towards the south end of the park. The name means 'Chinese Tower' and is overshadowed by a 25 meter tall pagoda. Thousands of drinkers can fit here, sometimes listening to musicians playing up in the tower.
Several food stalls surround the beer stand with all kinds of goodies to eat. Know that your price for beer includes a deposit for the glass. Return it to the counter around the back to get your fee back.
After passing the south end of the park, past the surfers on the Eisbach, eventually you'll reach the city's main plaza, Marienplatz. Just another block or so beyond that is a destination that every traveler to Munich needs to visit, the Viktulienmarkt.
This 2-block long market is where you can find just about any food or drink you can imagine from individual vendor stalls. The New York Times said is was worth flying across the Atlantic just to visit this market and I have to agree, it's a wonderful place full of fascinating smells and tastes.
The biergarten in the middle of the market is where you can indulge in all those goodies you're going to buy from those vendors, along with food you can buy at several surrounding snack stands and, of course, the beer counter.
This is one of the best places to make friends with locals over a bier and a wurst.
Across from the Haupbahnhof (the main train station) is the expansive Augustiner Keller biergarten. One of our very favorites, this is the place to come for massive schweinhocken (pork shanks with very crispy and tasty skin) and a fluffy, pillowy Auszogne.
One of Munich's oldest breweries, Augustiner (not available in the U.S.) pours from old-fashioned wooden kegs into giant liter glasses.
Help yourself to a giant pretzel in the baskets near the cashier.
Eagle's Nest has a notorious past. This small, mountain top spot south of Munich on the border of Austria used to be Adolph Hitler's personal getaway. He was painfully afraid of heights so he only made the trip up here a few times.
Today, it's open to everybody and commands a spectacular view to go with your brew.
Back in the Schwabing neighborhood of Munich, there's another market that is as yet untouched by tourists. It's much smaller than Viktulienmarkt but Elisabethplatz still has everything you'll need or want, including a beer garden in the corner.
This is Wintergarten and serves some of the best sausages we had here, along with more great Augustiner beer.
There are hundreds more but the three of us can only make so much of a dent. The biergarten culture in Germany is alive and well, I only wish they'd export it over to us in the states.
Copyright 2016 - All Rights Reserved
Photos by Letty Musick
Copyright 2016 - All Rights Reserved