Thursday 20th May 2010
In German the word Keller means Cellar, pretty obvious really. Yet how is it that the name is synonymous with Biergartens? Well, the history of the Hofbräukeller is a perfect example of how this came about.
Up to the middle part of the 18th century the Munich brewers tried struggled to store their beer at a reasonable temperature and the Hofbräu addressed the problem by digging cellars in the banks of the River Isar at a place known as Gasteig, some way from the brewery which was in the centre of the city at what is now the Hofbräuhaus am Platzl.
Horse Chestnut trees were planted to shade the roofs of the cellars and the river in winter provided a ready supply of ice.
In 1812 King Maximillian Josef I decreed that brewers could sell beer at the brewery. This was not permitted previously yet it was a law that was broken often and people bought beer to take away and just went around a corner and sat down beneath a tree and consumed it.
So breweries provided their own trees to encourage the public to sit and consume more beer. This happened at the Hofbräukeller even though there wasn't a brewery there, yet!
The city centre brewery had reached its capacity and brewed its last on 22nd May 1896. It was taken to the Keller for its second fermentation as was normal. A large pub had already been built at the site and opened in 1892. This was followed by the enlarged brewery which made its first brew on 10th August 1896. Now Brewery, Brewery Tap, Biergarten and Keller were all on the same site and the company prospered.
An interesting aside occurred on 16th October 1919 when Adolf Hitler made his first public speech in this beer hall. It was for the Deutsche Arbeiter Partei (German Workers Party). It was at this event, or possibly a later engagement here, that there was a bit of an altercation and a lot of beer mugs were thrown and Herr Hitler was sent the bill for the breakages. This has never been paid.
By the 1980s this brewery had reached its capacity. A new brewery was built in the suburb of Ried and brewed its first beer on 23rd November 1988.
The brewery and the fermentation vessels may have left but the beer hall complex and the very large biergarten remained, and this was what I was visiting on this day, although the latter was closed because of the bad weather.
It's a very good looking pub but both inside and out and was quiet when I visited, so I had a good look around some of the three main rooms, but there were others that weren't open. I sat in the room with the bar and noticed the carved wooden seats and the varnished tables. It is illuminated with electric chandeliers.
The beers offered were Hofbräu Original Hell (5.1%) (Light); Dunkel (5.5%) (Dark) and Münchner Weisse (5.1%) (Wheat) and a seasonal Maibock (7.2%) which I had and liked a lot.
An unusual feature is Kinderland which is a nursery for children. There are two trained staff to look after them and I like this idea a lot. It keeps them out of the pub. This is a very good pub and hopefully, when I visit again, the Biergarten will be open as I'm sure the beer served there comes from a wooden barrel.
Hofbräukeller, Innere Wiener Strasse 19, München Au-Haidhausen 81667
Open: Daily 10.00-24.00
The pub is about five minutes from Max-Weber-Platz which is a bit of public transport epicentre. It has a U-Bahn station served by lines U4 and U5 and on street level by tram routes 15, 19 and 25. However the most convenient stop is Wienerplatz where the 16 tram stops. It also stops at Max-Weber-Platz.