Reviewed by Shanky
Platzl 9, 80331 München,
+49 89 290136100
Hours: 9 am to 11.30 am
In the olden days, beer was brewed in Bavaria only with royal consent in brew houses licensed by the court. Now thankfully, things are simpler, but the Bavarian legacy still remains – in the Hofbrauhaus. Hofbrauhaus carries a weighty legacy. It is often called the most famous beerhouse in the world, and is certainly the most famous in this most famous of beer cities. For those who speak German (and, as I’ve said elsewhere, for those who don’t) Hofbrauhaus literally means Court Brewhouse. This onetime hangout of Bavarian gentry was started by Wilhem V, Duke of Bavaria in 1589 and is one of the oldest brewhouses still in existence. Luckily, it has been open for a good long while to the common man. The state owned Hofbrauhaus is located in the Am Platzl, just off the impressive Maximillian Street and a short walk from the Opera House or the München Rathaus. This is a small tiled street full or pubs, even a Planet Hollywood right opposite the Hofbrauhaus. But back to the basics.
My first entry into the Hofbrauhaus took me up a grand flight of stairs lined with huge portraits to what I later discovered was one of the many sections in the place. This section is called the Pub, and has wooden floors and a ceiling, nice round table seating for four or more, and is quieter than the more boisterous taproom section downstairs. The taproom, downstairs and with a separate entrance , is an altogether different affair – bench-style seating and live music. Its most notable feature is a huge arched painted ceiling. This is the boisterous part of the brewhouse, and has a great view of the fountain in the centre of the courtyard. In summer and good weather, one can sit outside, around the rather elaborate fountain which, I hear, flows with beer during the October Festival. Then, there’s a third section, above the taproom and accessible from the courtyard. This is smaller than the main pub section, and also features bench-style seating, but is quieter and overlooks the fountain and the tables below. All this adds up to about 3,000 seats. The most impressive portion of the brewhouse – the ballroom – is alas only open for events and parties and not for regular service.
This place serves beer from its own brewery, as befits a brewhouse. You have a choice of pale or dark beers, very refreshing crisp beers with only mild bitterness and excellent body. I confess to being more partial to dark beer, with all its caramel and roast undertones. Service; its very patchy here, the one big drawback of this place, but the basic beer order lands up quickly enough. Food is the usual combination of meats and potatoes, competently done and served in the usual generous portions. Prices are moderate. I would say the Hofbrauhaus has a slightly more commercial feel to it – a place that knows its attraction as a tourist centre. The other pubs were warmer and more welcoming, somehow. However, the beer is excellent, the seating – specially the courtyard or the place above overlooking the fountain – is very nice. And the place does have history.