Munich and beer go hand-in-hand. In fact, it’s almost impossible to separate the two. The beer halls are iconic. The beer gardens are miniature pastoral escapes within the city. The beer flows endlessly as local denizens, beer lovers, and tourists gather, “prost!”, and revel.
With Oktoberfest only two weeks away, there’s a chance you’ll be hitting Munich very soon. Seven million people are going to descend upon the Bavarian capital to drink copious amounts of the sudsy stuff at the Theresienwiese. While that beer fest is the pinnacle of beer experiences, there’s still a long list of great beer spots all over the city. So, by all means, go to tents at Oktoberfest and have a hoot. Just don’t sleep on the other amazing beer stops while you’re in town.
Below are ten beer destinations that feel essential if you’re in Munich. They’re the epitome of great beer paired with super comforting Bavarian food — the kind of food that’s a necessary fortification for a day (and night) of heavy beer drinking.
The best tour of Munich should begin and end with an Augustiner Lagerbier Hell. The light lager has a straw hue along with the perfect balance of bready sweet malts and subtly sharp local hops. When it comes out of a wooden keg as fresh as can be, it’s transcendent. Then there’s the Edlestoff with its refined edges, soft texture, and higher alcoholic kick. Both beers are absolute delights and you won’t find them poured better anywhere else in the world than in Munich and at places like the Augustiner Keller.
This 5,000-seat beer garden is a Munich institution. We’d go so far to say that if you don’t hit this garden up at least once, you’ve failed at Munich. The beer garden has a small but very effective menu of Bavarian classics from local cellar cheese to crispy pork shanks to the must-try Steckerlfisch. That’s a marinated mackerel that’s put on a stick and roasted over a fire. Add a little fresh rye and a huge mug of Augustiner Hell and you’re set.
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There are a lot of beer halls to choose from in Munich. You could easily spend a weekend just hopping from Augustiner to Lowen to Pschorr to Hofbräu and so on. If you’re going to go to just one and love hefeweizen, then your choice has to be Schneider Bräuhaus. Schneider brews some of the best hefeweizens in the world. Their line of hefes ebb and flow between classic, citrusy, hoppy, heavy, and light. The common thread? They’re all delicious.
The beer hall is everything you want it to be. The walls are decorated with hunting lodge aesthetics that give way to wood paneling and booths and long tables sitting at the ready. Their menu is a great place to start your Bavarian food odyssey with charcuterie board full of funky cheeses, piquant sausages, musty salamis, and local hams all served with plenty of pickles and homemade rye bread. It’s the perfect way to sustain yourself while you down all that delicious wheat beer.
American-Style craft brews have started making in-roads in lager and hefe-centric Munich. Crew Republic takes the heady styles of England the U.S. and filters them through a very Bavarian lens. The intensely high-quality ingredients and terroir of Bavaria shine through their session IPAs, imperial stouts, and barleywines. While many of us go to Munich for the lager and hefe, it’s very enlightening to feel and taste these styles beers in a part of the world that’s mastered all things beer.
The brewery and taproom are actually just outside of the city, up north in the town of Unterschleissheim. You’ll need to take an hour-long ride on the S1 S-Bahn (public transport) train or snag a bike and pedal for about an hour to get there. Trust us, it’s worth the jaunt. The taproom comes alive with beer lovers and locals flocking to the bar to taste the best Crew Republic has to offer. Plus, it’ll get you out of the city for a couple hours. All good things.
The Hirschgarten (Deer Park) is a lovely corner of Munich a little bit west of the center. The massive, 8,000-seat beer garden serves Augustiner from the Holzfass (wooden keg), König Ludwig (which is fine), and Tegernsee (which is a refreshing lager that hits the spot). There’s even an actual deer park with a small herd of roe deer you can feed in between mugs of beer.
Hirschgarten has an attached restaurant that does a solid Sunday brunch and serves all the Bavarian classics: Pork shanks, heaps of sausages, pretzels the size of your head, and Leberkase. That last one’s a sort of Bavarian meatloaf with the texture of a fine hot dog. It’s amazing with a dollop of sharp mustard and coleslaw. Once you’re full of great food and beer, you can walk off all those calories in the huge park that’s part of the beer garden. It’s the perfect stroll to end a long drinking sesh.
Tap-House is where you post up if you want to taste the best of the best. This joint has 42 rotating taps and over 200 bottles available from Bavaria, Germany, Europe, and further afield. It might feel a little intimidating at first. Don’t worry. It’s a chill spot with a convivial staff who are there to help you along your beer journey with plenty of well-cellared beers and eclectic bottles.
Tap-House is very easy to get stuck in. The beer list is so long that’ll you be enticed to try another and then another until, suddenly, it’s dark outside. Order yourself a Flammkuchen (a cracker crust German pizza) and one more funky, fun beer. You’ll stumble out into the Munich night with a smile on your face.
South of the city center, you’ll find a nice little spot pouring some serious beer. Giesinger’s Pils and Märzen are the highlights of the taps. Both posses that deft skill of being filling yet light. The local malts add a sweetness that compliments the earthy hoppiness of the neighborhood brew. These are “ahhh” inducing glasses of beer.
The atmosphere is clutch. Inside the Bräustüberl (beer bar) is a cozy bar next to a brewing room. The cooking malts and hops waft over from time to time enticing you to stay for just one more beer. The outdoor patio sits right across from a small city park and furthers the allure of this place. Then there’s the food that celebrates all things veal, pork, gravy, and pickle — dishes every bit as local as the clientele.
Forschungsbrauerei is another small-time neighborhood brewer that gets the job done. The suburban brewery has been brewing up great beer for the locals for almost 100-years. Their lager and hefe are wonderful examples of those styles, but it’s their Blonder Bock that brings the crowds to their beer garden and beer hall. The bock has a 7.6 percent ABV kick with a sweet balance of local malts and echoes of fresh summer hops. Just be careful ordering these ones in one-liter glasses: you’ll get wasted fast.
The brewery, beer hall, and beer garden are all in one neighborhood spot here. You’ll have to jump on the S-Bahn to Perlach station, which will take you about 30 minutes on the S7. Otherwise, if you still have your bike, it’s about a 30-minute cycle from the city center. Once you’re there, order a beer and a plate of the Forschungsbräu ogmachta Kas. It’s their version of obazda which is a soft camembert mixed with butter, beer, and plenty of paprika. It’s served with pickled radishes and plenty of rye or pretzel and is, far and away, one of the best cheeses on earth to pair with beer.
A stroll through Munich’s Englischer Garten to the Chinesischer Turm is another essential part of the Munich experience. You can’t miss the Chinese Pagoda tower if you’re walking anywhere in the park, so this one’s easy to find. They serve Hofbräu beer at this 7,000-seat beer garden. Stopping here relieves you from having to also stop at the very touristy Hofbräuhaus in the center of the city. Not that HB isn’t awesome, this place is just cooler.
You’re really here for the atmosphere. You’ll find families, elderly couples, business folks after work, tourists, and local kids who look way to young to be drinking (the drinking age in Germany in 16) all gathered in one beautiful place to grab a big beer. Find a seat, order a huge pretzel, and heave a maß (one-liter glass) high. You’ll make new friends, get drunk, and eat too many pretzels. It’ll be a blast.
Biergarten Viktualienmarkt is a touristy place. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t drop in for at least a beer … or three. The huge maßes of beer flow all day and there’s a whole farmer’s market around this beer garden that allows you to sample an array of great food options from the region — and stock up on fresh meats, fruits, and veg if you’re Airbnb-ing.
Grabbing a beer here is about location. It’s as central as you can get. Der Pschorr beer hall is a few steps away and the Viktualienmarkt is worth wandering around pre or post beers. Think of this as a great place to meet your crew, plot your course, and then head out in the wild of the Munich beer scene.
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We said up top they best trip to Munich starts and ends with Augustiner, so here we are. Zum Augustiner is more than a single stop. It’s six beer experiences in one central location in a dope Belle Epoch setting.
Depending on your mood you can post up in the old arched restaurant, under the leaded glass ceiling of the Muschelsaal, in the hunting lodge Bierhalle, outside in the baroque Arkadengarten, or, if you’re in a group, in two of their larger halls. Our advice is to have a walk through and find the spot that suits you and snag a big table that’ll allow others to join — that’s how you make friends on the road. Order some sausages, cheese, or huge hunks of pork or duck, and then start downing those beautiful Augustiners. Munich, done.