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Archive for July, 2013

It might not be up there among the most awesome of the food markets of the world, it’s nothing like Florence or Borough Market. That does not mean ther isn’t something for everyone at the Munich Viktualienmarkt. It is a pure food and flowers market, with a fine range. Aspargus and chantatels were in season when I visited, there are herbs ands spices, fresh and dries. Oils and vinegars, wines and spirits. Meat and fish, sausages and fruit. There is a special mustard stall. Some offer takeaway food, others are more for wrapping up to take home.

There is a beer garden at the centre, where the main breweries of Munich rotate on having the tap. Convenient that they don’t have to change the price list, as they all offer the same Helles, Dunkles and Weissen anyway.

There are a few organic shops, go there if you want beer a bit more out of the ordinary.

It is smack of the middle of Munich. Have a look. Have a sausage.

I bought some Austrian Speck,  pumpkin seed oil and two glasses of wild garlic pesto.

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There is, a bit hidden and out of sight, a craft beer scene in Munich. And there is one place to go. The Red Hot Bar and Chophouse.

It is worth noting that this is not a place that you stumble over by accident. It is not directly on the street. And it is not in the first courtyard. It is in the inner courtyard. Once there, you are warmly welcomed. In English, if you prefer so.

A beer bar is not much of a novelty in Munich, I hear you say. A beer bar, surely not. A craft beer bar is, though.

A hand picked beer list, which might change from day to day. Food as well, pulled pork, burgers etc.

Red Ale at the Red Hot

If you really must have a Helles or a Weissen, you can find it, but there are pale ales, smoked beers, bocks, IPAs and lambics, too.

Pleasant patio at the back if the weather is nice, cozy and compact inside. Very friendly service, particularly from Tibor the bartender, who recommends beer as well as mixing drinks at the speed of light.

After som days with the standard Bavarian beers, it was a relief to find  a good range of hoppy beers. My favourite among the ones I tried was the Braufactum Progusta IPA. Lovely glowing amber, with the hops bringing a smile on my face. Herbs, dryness, the IPA mouth fee. Not the most extreme, just a perfect summer beer.

If you are seriously interested in beer, you should not miss this when you visit Munich. Five minutes away from the Universität U-bahn stop. Amalienhof, Amalienstrasse 89.  Open from 17.00, closed Sundays.

The entrance is just opposite the back door to the splendidly restored main building of the Universityof Munich. Have a look inside if it’s open.

Complaints?

It can get very crowded, so it might be wise to go early. And the light behind the bar is so dim it is hopeless to get good photos.

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According to the newspaper, Extreme weather destroys road and rail

My pleasant bicycle ride to the St Astra im Feld brewery made me wish for more, and after leaving the Seefranzl brewery, I set out first towards the south and then eastwards. First along a busy road between fields and meadows, then on a small road through the forest with hardly any traffic. Flat and easy going, it took less than an hour.

The Bartewirt  is located at the village Kreuzstrasse, literally meaning Crossroads, where several country roads have met for a very long time. A splendid place for an inn, then and now. It is not directly on the Autobahn, but there is lots of traffic here between Munich – half an hour to the north – and the Alps and lakes to the south.

The Bartewirt  means The Landlord with the Mustache, which, according to the chatty menu set up as a newspaper, was a historical person.

The Bartewirt belongs to the Graf Arco family brewery, which, in one form or another, have been in the business since 1630. They used to brew at several facilities, including the nearby even smaller village of Valley. That is history, but at least they have kept the inn. Lots of details at their web site, if you are interested.

Rustic wooden interior plus a beer garden in the courtyard. Not a massive set up, but you still have the choice between the self-serve benches or table service. I arrive before the evening trade picks up. Pleasantly quiet, except for the rather busy road, which, on the other hand, is the reason the place is there. Chestnut trees.

Bikers, working men in their overalls enjoying their Scweinehaxe,  families. Nor Dirndl, no tourists, no menu in English. The menu is printed as a newspaper, but there are a dozen dishes of the day, too. There is even some fish if you have reached your quota of meatfor the week. I limited myself to some pressed and pickled pork, seved with a lovely Austrian pumpkin seed oil.

The Helles Kellerbier has bread crust, discreet yeast and a little sting of hops. A bit too soft, perhaps, but a very honest session beer.

The Birnbacher Schwartzbier is even better. Cola color. Not of the sticky sweet kind. Plenty of malt, sure, but enough roasted grain to add elements of coffee and make a balance between the sweet and dry.

As I only have to push my bike some meters to the railway station, I decide to try their Doppelbock, too, the Arcator. Deep dark red, beige fluffy head. Full malty kick. Roasted malt, aromatic hops. Pleasant, if not stellar. Time to find my way back to Munich.

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A pretty spot for a brewery

Some weeks before my stay in Munich, I spent some time with Google, particularly Google Maps. I looked for Brauerei, I looked for Craft beer, I looked along the suburban railway lines to see what I could find.

One web site made me curious. Seefranzl Bräu in Arget. A very professional web site. Strong committment to quality raw materials. And what looked like a very small scale operation. Their beers are available for sale only from the brewery, and the shop is open for a few hours once a month or so.

The brewery is not listed at RateBeer or Beer Advocate, and is not to be found in any guidebooks.

Just the place for me to visit.

I filled in the form on their web page, telling them in my grammatically challenged written German that I would be interested in a visit, but that their next opening day did not fit me. I got an answer back right away, inviting me to come along on a Friday afternoon, which would be their final brewing session before the summer holidays.

The brewery is located in the village Arget, about half an hour by commuter train from Munich, then a few kilometers by bus or bike. I decided to make this a day out, so I rented a bike and set out in the sunny weather along fields of wheat and barley dotted with poppies. Flat and fertile farmland, but as I was going southwards, you have the majestetic backdrop of the Alps right in front of you.

Arget does not have many streets, and there was a clear sign outside the door, welcoming guests to Seefranzl Bräu. I rang the bell, and was warmly welcomed by Josef and Andreas. I am relieved that I, for once, am asked to dispense of the formalities of language, going straight to du  instead of Sie

The setup is simple.  A small scale family operation. The impressive web pages are made by Josef’s daughter, who also happens to be Andreas’ girlfriend.

The brewery is on the ground floor in a beautifully restored farmhouse, in what used to be the stable. They brew about one batch a week, each batch is only 45 liters. They have been doing this for a year or so, the current batch is number 70.

They get their malt from Weyermann in Bamberg, who not only sell to small breweries is small quantities, but also give good advise on the phone.

Andreas adding the hops

With all the work involved, this is strictly a hobby. Financially, it does not make sense at all to run things on such a small scale. But the small scale does not mean that they don’t take this seriously when it comes to quality. Spotlessly clean, no cheating on the raw materials.

Josef rinses some glasses, and asks me if I’d like to try their beers. I’m not very difficult to convince.

  • Their Hefeweissen is very true to type, with a soft mouth feel, yeast character and a clear banaa aroma without getting cloying.
  • The newest beer is inspired by a pale ale. It is not a clone of the British or American pale ales, though. They use regional hops from Hallertau, meaning that you get a German twist. Full hop aroma, flowery and refreshing.
  • The Dunkel is top fermented, using an Altbier malt, and is also liberally hopped. Nice Alt charater, well balanced. This has spent a year maturing in the bottle, but that has not made any harm whatsoever.
  • Finally their Starkbier. Malty, but not too sweet. I am warned that this is too carbonated, it is from one of the first batches. That does not bother me, it has a fine character of caramel and nuts.

The yeast is harvested from each batch and reused, they have not bought any yeast since the first batch.

So far, they have sold all their beers directly through  their front door. The local restaurants wants to sell their beers, too. But then they would have to scale up to meet demand.

I thankt the two brewers for their time and hospitality, happy that I made the trip. This is far more rewarding than a guided tour of a large brewery.

Contact details can be found on their web site, including information about their opening times.

Josef generously pouring a sample

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The Isar river runs through Munich, and along its banks there is pleny of space for recreation. Swimming, running, pushing prams or just strolling along. Huge trees offer protection from the sun, if that’s what you want.

But for long stretches of river, there are no beer gardens. Sure, you do not have to venture far to get a glass of beer. But it would be nice to sit down by ther river and enjoy a refreshment.

There is one place doing a roaring trade – a kiosk by the Reichenbach  bridge. A splendid range of beers, but you should expect a long line of customers with the same idea. If you are lucky, they may have beers from the Giesinger brewery just up the road. Their Pilschen  was nice, their Kellerbier  not so stellar.

Open 23 hours a day, meaning the kiosk is closed between 5 and 6 in the morning.

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