Munich and Foothills of the Alps
- September 2018:
- Wed Sep 26 – Thu Sep 27
- 2 days for approx. $675 (actual price 550 Euros)
- current conversion to US $
Likely breweries, visits, tours, and meals:
Oktoberfest (in September), Starkbierfest (Strong Beer Fest in April), Klosterbrauerei Andechs, Löwenbräukeller, Weihenstephan, Giesinger Bräu, Zum Augustiner Großgaststätten, Hirschgarten, Viktualienmarkt, and more!
Tradition, Modernity, and Beer
To me Munich is the perfect blend of exciting and historical. As soon as I arrive, I head to a biergarten or a beer hall to grab a liter of shining helles lager and munch on a salty pretzel. Invariably, any time of day or night, I’m surrounded by locals and tourists doing the same. Nicknamed Italy’s northernmost city, this capital of Bavaria is international, cosmopolitan, and rich with centuries of history. And it’s obsessed with local beer.
Münchners I speak to are a paradox of modern and traditional. They love their rustic, outdoor biergartens, and have legally protected their right to bring their own comfort food from home with them to the city’s many biergartens. But at the same time, they might deride their rural cousins for living in old-fashioned wooden buildings. Businessmen in suits, elderly women, and families of all ages head to beer halls to break for Brotzeit (“bread time”), a weekday-morning second breakfast of weisswurst (white sausage) and weissbier. Brilliant. They’re proud of their art museums, churches, high standard of living, and, perhaps most of all, their beer.
Cradle of Lagers: Dark, Amber & Golden
Two fantastic beer styles bear the city’s name: Munich Dunkel (a chestnut-brown lager) and Munich Helles (a pale golden lager). Dunkels are the beers that made Munich famous, and they’re bready and smooth with hints of savory cocoa. Dunkel and its stronger, maltier cousins the Bock and Doppelbock developed because of the unique local water chemistry — part of Munich’s terroir. Munich Helles is the city’s answer to Pilsner, and has Munich’s trademark bready, malty character, which makes these pale golden, gently-hopped lagers as delicious as they are refreshing. Another Munich original, the amber Märzen lager, is harder to find these days. We’ll be able to enjoy a great Märzen, as well as an ice-distilled, 25% ABV Eisbock version of Märzen, at one of Munich’s craft breweries. Weissbier, Bavaria’s hazy, fruity-spicy wheat beer, is prevalent, fresh and delicious, and especially popular during morning Brotzeit.
In April, the Munich Immersion includes a visit to Starkbierfest.
Stark means strong in German, and Starkbierfest is a holdover from when nourishing, boozy brews would stem the hunger pangs of Lenten fasting.
In September, the Munich Immersion includes 2 sessions at Oktoberfest.
Beer fans from around the globe head to the biggest State Fair in the world: Oktoberfest. We’ll enjoy liters of Festbier, oompah bands, hearty food, Gemütlichkeit, amazing people-watching, and more liters of Festbier.
Special Beer Styles:
- Munich Helles: bready, pale-golden, quaffable lager; flows like water in Munich
- Munich Dunkles: bready, dark lager with hints of savory chocolate
- Doppelbock: strong, malty, slightly sweet lager, ranges from deep gold to tawny to mahogany; a specialty in winter and Starkbierfest
- Festbier: balanced, golden lager brewed for Oktoberfest, 6% ABV and sold by the liter
- Weissbier: refreshing, liquid bread, with banana and clove aromas created by the special yeast
- plus: lots of pilsners, a great Märzen, and an Eisbock, too
- Schweinhaxn mit Kloß: slow-roasted pork shank with crispy skin, served with potato dumplings
- Weisswurst: mild, white pork and veal sausage, served with sweet mustard and an almost-mandatory wheat beer
- Nürnburger Bratwurst: sauteed, herbed pork sausages, finger-sized (called “minis”), served 6 or 8 at a time with sauerkraut or potato salad; from Nuremburg, but equally popular in Munich
- Currywurst: sauteed pork frankfurter sausage, sliced and served with curry-ketchup and dusting of curry powder
- Obatzda: cheese dip of Camembert, quark, onions, paprika, and beer; perfect on pretzels or bread
- Zwiebelkuchen: Bavaria’s answer to Quiche Lorraine, but with less egg and more sweet onions
- Topfenstrudel: warm, flaky strudel stuffed with quark, vanilla, and raisins, served with vanilla ice cream
Local Customs We’ll Join In On:
- drinking beer in biergartens, gazing at the Alps on the horizon, as the breeze blows through the chestnut trees
- eating weisswurst and drinking weissbier, the traditional Bavarian Brotzeit snack, always with sweet mustard (and only tourists eat the casing!)
- making a beer and food “pilgrimage” to the Andechs Monastery and Brewery on “Holy Mountain”
- eating, drinking, and strolling through Munich’s amazing outdoor food market, the Viktualienmarkt
- visiting Oktoberfest (in Sept) or Starkbierfest (in April) for liters, oompah bands, half chickens, lederhosen, and dirndls
Local Non-Beer Sights We’ll See:
- Frauenkirche Cathedral, St. Peter’s Church, and Andechs Monastery
- Marienplatz, Odeonsplatz, Neues and Altes Rathäuser, and Karlstor Gate
- Schloss Nymphenburg (weather permitting)
- views of the Alps on the horizon, 35 miles distant (weather permitting)
Places I’ve Enjoyed Staying At:
TIP: Lodging in Munich is pricy during Oktoberfest, which runs each year from mid-September to early-October. If you’re thinking of joining the Munich Immersion, consider booking your hotel right away. Prepaid reservations are cheaper, but they don’t allow cancellations. If you’re on the fence, go ahead and get a *cancellable* reservation now just to be safe (just make sure you know the terms of cancellation). You can cancel it later if you have to.
- Hotel Eder, Zweigstrasse 8, Munich
- nice rooms and in-room modern bathrooms in a small, charming hotel, with elevator
- centrally located between the main train station and the Old Town and Marienplatz, and tucked down a side street just a block away from shops, restaurants, and bars
- from hotel: 5-min walk to the main train station; 15-min walk to the Marienplatz, which is the heart of the Old Town/Altstadt; 15-min walk to Oktoberfest
- Airbnb locations throughout Munich
- Airbnb: save some cash and join the sharing economy. I have stayed at Airbnbs in Munich multiple times and have had good experiences. Of course, each Airbnb listing is different, and will probably have both advantages and drawbacks. Click on the website link above, then enter in your dates and other preferences to see your lodging possibilities.
- Neighborhoods like Schwantalerhöhe and Sendlinger Tor are generally within 5- to 20-minute walk to both the Munich Main Train Station and Oktoberfest.
- Neighborhoods like Gärtnerplatz, Isartor, Marienplatz, and Maxvorstadt offer good options as well. While they are farther from Munich’s Main Train Station and Oktoberfest, they are bustling neighborhoods full of great sites, restaurants, shops, and nightlife.
- Munich’s public transit (U-Bahn and S-Bahn) stations are plentiful and the trains are safe and efficient. Of course, during Oktoberfest time, the trains are quite crowded, and I find walking to be preferable.
Giddy Up to Oktoberfest!
CONTACT RICH for information or to sign up!
Rich Higgins Beer Immersions
San Francisco, CA, USA
Registered California Seller of Travel #2130300-40