München (Munich), Bayern (Bavaria):
Thursday 20th May 2010
Löwenbräu was very well known in the UK from the 1970s to the 1990s and early 2000s when the beer was brewed there under license. Even though it was produced under the German Rheinheitsgebot (Pure beer law) it was never as good as the original and some of this was attributable to the enormous amount of CO2 that British pubs put on draught lager beers. The remainder, I suspect, was because of the lack of proper lagering and the use of non authentic malt.
Löwenbräu is yet another Munich brewery that has been around for a very long time and can trace its origin, it is believed, to 1383. In 1524 brewer Jörg Schnailter is mentioned as operating from 17 Löwengrube, hence the origins of the name.
The present day logo is taken from a fresco that adorned the brew house in the 17th century.
In 1818 it was purchased by Georg Brey who, between 1826 and 1851 moved it to its present site. By 1863 it was the largest brewery in Munich. His successors sold in 1872 and it became a limited company.
After the Great War all businesses in Germany were having a hard time financially and there was much consolidation. Löwenbräu absorbed Unionsbräu and Bürgerbräu in 1921, yet this did provide them with more outlets when times improved.
After Second World War, during which, in one night, much of the brewery was destroyed by bombing, the company struggled to recover. However, this was complete by 1950. There followed a period of growth and the next major event was when in 1997 they merged with the Spaten brewery. See photo above where, on the left, you can see the bridge that connects the two breweries. 2003 was the end of independence because they were bought by global giant InBev. Ironically, one of the reasons for the 1997 merger was to make the company bigger and stronger to fight off a takeover like this.
The very modern buildings of the Löwenbräu administration are on the other side of the road to the brewery tap. On to the tap itself, the Löwenbräukeller, the land for which was purchased by Ludwig Brey in 1861. However building work did not commence until 1882.
The building and biergarten were opened to the public on 14th June 1883 and were a revelation inasmuch that tablecloths were provided for the first time in the city and drinkers did not have to wash out the mass krugs (one litre ceramic jugs) themselves, as a fresh one was provided each time.
In 1894 it was rebuilt for the first time acquiring the tower that overlooks Stiglmaierplatz to this day. It then could hold 8,000 drinkers and diners inside and out. 1911 saw it being re-modelled again.
It reopened in 1950 after the war-time damage was repaired with the capacity cut in half to a mere 4,000. On 23rd July 1986 there was a huge fire and the banqueting hall, the small side tower and other parts of the building were destroyed.
The building was slowly restored and then in 2008 it had a complete make-over when new roof gardens were added.
The place is huge and on my two visits I haven't seen all of it. It is so big that it is a venue for corporate events, conferences and concerts. In fact the view of the strange but rather beautiful building is often spoilt by huge banners advertising forthcoming events, see photograph.
When I visited, the large biergarten wasn't open because of poor weather and only the main room, the Löwenbräustüberl, was serving customers. However, I think this is the best room and the most traditional in looks, although I haven't visited all of the various parts of this labyrinth of a beer hall.
There are varnished wood tables and head height wood panelling around the walls. The ceiling is vaulted and there are very few other decorations apart from the electric chandeliers, giving it the very spartan appearance of a true traditional beer hall.
Beers on offer were Löwenbräu Original Hell (5.2%) a light beer, Dunkel (5.5%) dark beer, Schwarzbier Urtyp (4.8%), a black beer, Triumphator (7.6%), a traditional double bock beer/rocket fuel. Also there is Franziskaner Hefe-Weissbier Hell (5.0%), light wheat beer and Hefe-Weissbier Dunkel (5.0%), a dark wheat beer.
I think this beer hall is a great place to sample a good number of the Löwenbräu family of beers and should be on every visitor's itinerary.
Löwenbräukeller, Nymphenburger Strasse2, München-Maxvorstadt 80335
Open: Daily 10.00-24.00
The pub has an entrance direct from Stiglmaierplatz which has a U-Bahn station on lines U1 and U7. Trams 20 and 21 also pass through the square.