Friday, September 18, 2015

The Hofbrauhaus

When most people think of Munich, the first thing that pops into their mind is undoubtedly beer. In the capital of Bavaria, this beverage is more than just as a drink- it’s a way of life! Every September, the city hosts a sixteen day festival called Oktoberfest, where a whopping seven million liters are served. But if you want to celebrate beer year round in Munich, then you have to go to the Hofbräuhaus, the world’s most famous beer hall.
The Hofbräuhaus was founded in 1589 by the Duke of Bavaria, Wilhelm V, when he and the city council were not happy with the local beer. ‘Hobrau' means royal beer and ‘haus’ translates to house, but in 1828 King Ludwig opened the Hofbräuhaus to the public. This beer hall’s history is just as rich as its beer.  The Hofbräuhaus saved Munich during the Thirty Years War when the Swedes occupied it in 1632 and they agreed to not destroy the city in exchange for 1,000 buckets of beer; Mozart claimed to have written his opera ‘Idomeneo’ here;  it was the headquarters of the communist government of Munich in 1919;  the first meeting place of Adolf Hitler and the National Socialists in 1920; and Vladimir Lenin frequented the hall in the years leading up to World War II. Sadly, the Hofbräuhaus was almost entirely demolished by the Allied bombs in April of 1944 and only a small section of the original remains. The Hofbräuhaus was rebuilt to its original style and reopened in 1958 in honor of Munich’s eight hundredth birthday. 

Stepping through the doors, I was greeted by the sights of packed wooden tables, giant salty pretzels, steaming food, and jolly people clinking their pitchers. There was live music being performed by an Oom-pah band, some guests were even tipsily singing along, and the waiters and waitresses were wearing traditional lederhosens and dirndls. Many may infer from this that the Hofbräuhaus is a tourist trap, but it’s actually a beloved eatery for the regional people. The name for the regular locals who reserve tables weekly, some even daily, are called Stammgäste. An easy way to spot these people out is by their old fashioned Bavarian garments, which they wear to celebrate their heritage and pride collecting their steins from the Hofbräuhaus' stein vault, which is just left of the entrance. 

The night I went I ordered the Spaetzle egg noddles with Tegernsee-style grated cheese mix and fried onions. When you translate spätzle, it means ‘little sparrow’, but it is essentially is German mac’ n cheese. This meal dates back to the at least the year 1725, but medieval drawings show that it has likely been around for much longer.  The spätzle had a good consistency to it, and I found every bite of it to be silky and smooth, except when I devoured the crunchy, crisp fried onions. Since German meals are heavy with meat, carnivorous dishes the Hofbräuhaus offer up include pig knuckle, bratwurst, and weiner schnitzel. Overall, the food here is real soul food- hearty and generous in portions. 

To accompany my comfort food, I ordered the Hobrau Dark Beer, which my menu described as ‘the origin of Bavarian beer.’ I found this beer to be smooth with a light hop character and rich malty taste. Dunkle is the German word for dark, and dunkle beers typically range in color from amber to dark reddish brown. They have an alcohol content of 4.5% to 6% and are produced using Munich malts which give the dunkle its color.  Other beers the Hofbräuhaus serves include include Radler (a beer with lemonade), Muncher Weisse, and the Hofbrau Original.

The Hofbräuhaus isn’t just a Munich-must, but a place I would recommend everyone put on their own bucket lists. This is a restaurant you can seriously bring anyone to- people watchers, historians, travelers, and of course beer enthusiasts! But putting it’s iconic status aside, the reason I think people should go here before they die is because of its experience. The Hofbräuhaus can seat up to 5,000 people at a time, but sometimes it can get so packed it is not uncommon for strangers to sit together, making it a rather communal experience, something you  don’t just seldom get at a restaurant, but in life. Regardless of what the future holds for the Hofbräuhaus, it is guaranteed to always be a fun time. 

Platzl 9, 80331 
München, Germany
+49 89 290136100

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