It Doesn't Have To Be Oktroberfest To Enjoy Munich's Beer Scene
Business Traveler|October 2018

Oktoberfest is known the world over, but Munichs legendary beer scene can be enjoyed throughout the year

Andrew Eames

There’s no doubting the refreshment of choice in Munich. Even as you step off the plane, there it is in the terminal – the Airbrau, the only airport brewery in Europe, with its gleaming vats and mash tuns in situ at the back.

Inside, an appreciative public will be settling down to that essential Bavarian pre-flight pick-me-up – white sausages, pretzels and a freshly brewed half-liter of Mayday, Jetstream or Kumulus. Or all three.

The airport’s showcasing of beer culture is no surprise to anyone who knows Munich. This is, after all, the home of the Reinheitsgebot – the purity law that insists German beer should contain only malted grains, hops and water (yeast was added later), a principle that still governs domestic production 501 years after it was first enacted. It is also the city with the most famous beer festival in the world, Oktoberfest, where 60,000 barrels of the stuff are consumed in the course of a very merry fortnight.

But even if you can’t make it here in October (actually the festival starts in late September), you can still enjoy the full, convivial experience year-round. Munich is a city that takes great pride in its traditions, and to ignore its beer gardens and beer halls is to miss out on an important part of urban life.

Although it has since spread throughout the world, the concept of the Biergarten originated in Munich a little over 200 years ago, when King Maximilian I granted permission to the city’s brewers to sell direct from their cellars. Back in those days, there was no refrigeration, so brewers did most of their work in winter, stored their stock underground and then planted trees (usually horse chestnuts) to protect their cellars from the summer sun.

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