Monday, 4 August 2014

It's a Bit Different In Munich

The Augustiner Keller is a classic of its kind and best of all, it is very handy for the centre of town when in Munich and an easy walk from the main railway station. In Munich the word "keller" generally denotes a beer garden and this is a classic of its type. Huge, sprawling, but nonetheless cosy enough, with its dozens - or is it hundreds - of benches set under chestnut trees, while an oompah band plays folksy German tunes in the background. On a lovely Monday evening in July it was seductively attractive.

It helps to know the form here. The place is split into two areas. One is self service in that you go in via a turnstile, choose your food from a number of counters and then separately your beer (Edelstoff from a wooden cask in my case), which is handed to you and hence, cafeteria style, to a till where you settle up. Otherwise you go to the other half of the keller, where a waiter will eventually wander over and take your order. In the posher bit, like many German restaurants, the tables will all have either people sitting at them or reserved signs on them. If you make it clear that you wish to eat, then, usually,  a table will be found for you. If you just want a drink, well its more hit and miss and you may have to find a table to share, which is normal there. It's all very jolly and civilised.  No children running wild, no shirts off tattooed drunks and just the buzz of conversion (and the band who are not amplified) to accompany good beer. Oh and another thing. In the self service area, unless you choose wheat beer, the smallest (indeed only) measure is a litre. Just get on with it. In the "waited on" area you can have half litres. Go figure.

We started off in the self service part and as we intended to dine, moved to the waiter service area where a reserved sign was removed for us.  We looked and I tried to estimate how many people were there.  It was hard to say, but I'd guess quite a few over 800.  We discussed this and couldn't think of any location at all in the UK, where, on a Monday night, without it being a special event or location, that so many people were eating and drinking out in such a relaxed and casual manner.

The German beer garden is a thing of wonder, as is how it all works and the incredible wealth and social cohesion that sits behind it.  It was a smashing night of a kind you can only really get in Germany and more specifically, in Bavaria.

Unfortunately the weather then turned and more or less ended our outdoor drinking.  If you want good weather in Munich, find out when I'm going and don't go then. I've a bad record in that respect.


Cooking Lager said...

of course it was busy, people were out to spot the famous blogger.

Matt said...

Spent a sunny afternoon under the shade of the trees in the Augustinerkeller when I went to Munich a few years back. A couple of Maß of Edelstoff and a plate of Nurnberger Bratwurst, perfect.

Matt said...
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Paul Bailey said...

The boy and I are off to München on Sunday, and I for one can't wait! If the weather’s good I expect we’ll be calling in at Augustiner in the evening. If it isn’t, then it's Weisses Bräuhaus, followed by the Hofbräuhaus.

I’m hoping though that it will be beer garden weather, as there’s nothing better than sitting out under the shade of the chestnut trees, enjoying a Maß or two, and we’ve a rather full itinerary of gardens to visit that we’ve mapped out.

Another favourite which serves Edelstoff from a wooden cask, is the Hirschgarten; reputed to be Europe’s largest beer garden. We’ve been there a few times and it’s unbelievably busy, and seems especially popular with younger people. As you say, it’s all very civilised, with no Chavs, or overly loud people making a nuisance of themselves.

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Cooking Lager said...

Chavs? snobbery alert !

Erlangernick said...

It *is* a lovely place, and yes, there's something special about the civilised Bierkellerkultur in Bavaria (and in Franconia, of course).

Has anyone ever made a litre-sized gin & tonic, diluted down to 5.5% ABV and added a drop or two of yellow food colouring? Wonder how that would compare to a Mass of Edelstoff, either from the wood, bottles, or keg.

Paul Bailey said...

When you live as close to Chatham (the home of the original Chavs), as I do Cookie, you know how to spot them a mile off. Definitely snobery, but then I don't want to be drinking in the company of coarse and vulgar people!