München (Munich), Bayern (Bavaria):
Bräustüberl zum Spaten
Thursday 20th May 2010
This is a lovely little pub a short distance from the München Hauptbahnhof (Central Station) and is on the same street and within sight of its parent Spaten Brewery. Although the brewery's premier outlet in the city is the Spatenhaus near the Opera, that pub/restaurant is a bit snooty, so this small pub must be regarded as the tap, mainly because of its proximity.
With companies such as Spaten I do like to provide a background of history simply because Bavarian breweries have so much of it. The Welser brewery (Welserbräu) commenced its long life at Neuhausergasse 4 in 1397. This is now a main route from the railway station to the centre of the city.
It changed ownership many times until it was bought by the Starnberger family. This dynasty retained ownership for 101 years from 1522 to 1622 when the Spatt family took over the reins until 1704. During their tenure the present name was adopted. Spaten is the German word for spade or spades so, because of the similarity to the owners' surname, this title was adopted and it is appropriate, as spades are always used in malting barley. Eventually the Siessmayr family gain control and their period lasts until 1807.
It was then that Gabriel Sedlmayr purchased the company and it was in his period of control that the Spaten brewery became a world leader and earned its place in brewing history. His son, also Gabriel, travelled Europe during the period 1820 to 1830 looking at ways to improve the domestic production which was then a dark beer, similar to the Dunkel of the present day.
In England he found a scientific approach to brewing that didn't exist in Bavaria. The science involved in production of beer in the UK was regarded as chemistry, with continuous monitoring, and this approach was taken back to Munich. This, in turn, lead to the use of paler malts, thus enabling a lighter beer to be made.
The importance of these developments cannot be underestimated as it leads directly to the lager beer that rules the world today.
The younger Sedlmayr's new production methods were taken up by his acquaintance Austrian Anton Dreher who, in the period 1840 to 1842, delivered the first lager beer in the Viennese style, a mid brown/red offering with low hop attenuation.
The most important disciple however, was fellow countryman, Josef Groll of Pilsen, now Plzen in the Czech Republic, but then Austria. In 1842 he produced the first light lager, thereafter known logically as Pilsener (or Pilsner or Pils), a hoppier beer. The worldwide domination of type of beer (and its poor, not hoppy, imitations) is well documented.
Back to Munich, we find Gabriel Sedlmayr Senior, died in 1839 and Gabriel Junior and his brother Josef inherit the brewery. Josef leaves in 1842 when he bought the Leist-Brauerei, referred to later. However Spaten remains in the family's hands up to the 1990s.
In 1851 the site of the current-day brewery in Marsstrasse is acquired and in 1854 it opens. In parallel to this the Leist-Brauerei buys Franziskaner-Brauerei, a name that is still with us. In 1884 the distinctive logo with the spade is designed by Otto Hupp. In 1922 the Leist-Brauerei is merged into the company and Franziskaner becomes the brand name for Wheat Beer.
The final major change occurs in 1997 when they merged with Löwenbräu, Munich. Löwenbräu's brewery is actually in the next street, so before long, they were connected and nowadays the two are fully integrated, whilst retaining each brewery's separate brews. Sadly, this joint company lasted only until 2003 when was taken over by Inbev, now Anhauser-Busch-In Bev.
I am not sure how old the Bräustüberl zum Spaten is, it certainly looks as if it has been there some time but Munich is a deceptive place and a lot of buildings were rebuilt in earlier styles of architecture after the devastation of the last war.
Inside, the lower walls are wood-panelled and there are pillars in the middle of the room with animal heads and old brewery signs on the upper walls.
Hop bines hang from the ceiling and there are the scrubbed pine tables that are the hallmark of Bavarian pubs.
There are three regular beers and they are Spaten Pils (5.0%), Spaten Hell (5.2%) and Franziskaner Hefe Weissbier Hell (5.0%).
Since this article was written the pub has closed, not permanently I hope. In October 2012 the lease was still being advertised as available, so let's hope the pub lives again, as it is very good indeed.
Bräustüberl zum Spaten, Marsstrasse 16, München 80835
Open: Daily 11.00-24.00. See above.
It is less than ten minutes walk from the Hauptbahnhof (Central station) with its many modes of transport.