In early May I'm taking a beer trip to Munich, Germany. You could say that I'm excited.
In 2006 I spent a day in Munich while traveling in Europe. I almost wish I hadn't because it was so much fun I didn't want to leave. It's been a while, but I'm finally going back.
I want to make sure I do it right though, so I thought I would share with you my plan of attack. I also know that many BillyBrew readers have been to Germany and I'd be an idiot to not tap into that knowledge. I'll be traveling with my photographer aka Dr. B aka Dad. He's always wanted to go to Germany and I'm glad we can do this trip before he becomes an old(er) fart.
Here is the gist of the trip:
- 7 days in Munich and visiting other parts of Bavaria.
- Will use the excellent (and cheap) MVV public transportation system
- Breweries – lots of them. There are the obvious ones right in Munich – Schneider, Hofbräuhaus, Spaten, Paulaner, etc. The tough part is narrowing down the ones outside of Munich to visit. Weihenstephan is a must. As is Ayinger. I'd also really like to see Kloster Andechs and Weltenburg. Salzburg isn't even that far…
- Beer gardens – lots of these too.
- Will visit Bamberg, home of many Rauchbier producers like Schlenkerla as well the Weyermann malting company. Bamberg is a bit of a hike from Munich and I'm seriously considering spending the night there to take full advantage of it.
- Frühlingsfest is like a mini-Oktoberfest and will be taking place while we're there. It looks ridiculous and I don't think we should miss it.
- Assuming we survive to the end of the trip we'll do a day that is (gasp) not centered around beer. I'm dying to visit Neuschwanstein Castle so we will travel there. Hopefully the castle tour serves beer…
How am I preparing for the trip? I've been doing my homework for sure. Here is what I've found especially useful.
Books and Blogs
How could do I do this trip without The Beer Drinker's Guide to Munich? It has very detailed guides on breweries and beer gardens with maps and essential travel info. It doesn't go much into the beer itself, but for an American traveler unfamiliar with the city it is as the cover says, indispensable.
Speaking of blogs, Beervana has been another great source of info. Lucky for me, Jeff is in the middle of writing a beer book and has had some stellar posts recently about Germany.
In the past I would glance at the German beer section, raise an eyebrow at the impossible names, and move on to the American craft beer selections. Sure I've had the flagships from the big names, but I never ventured much outside of that territory.
Lately, however, I've made an effort to drink my way through the entire lineups of German breweries. I want to be familiar with them when I'm there as well as answer that age-old question, “Is it really better at the brewery?” I'm guessing the answer is “yes”, but I want to find out for myself ; )
The German language is tough and I didn't take it in school. I'm not expecting to be able to have a conversation in German but I would like to read basic signs, menus, etc. and know how to pronounce things correctly. I've been using Duolingo for language learning and have progressed pretty quickly. It's been shown to be as or more effective than Rosseta Stone, not to mention it's free. Do check it out.
Duolingo doesn't focus much on beer though and those brewery names are tricky. I was able to find this gem of a playlist on YouTube with German brewery pronunciations. Don't feel bad if you've been way off on some. I have too.
As I said above, I'd be foolish not to ask for reader feedback. Who's been to Munich? Have any tips?