Munich Beer Culture Feature

German Beer Culture

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Words by Dalene Heck / Photography by Pete Heck

I used to think that Canada had great beer. And then we went to Europe.

Let me clarify, my Canadian friends, before you skewer me in the comments – Canada does have some good, entirely enjoyable, beer. But, that’s it, I’ve realized. It’s good, only.

While living in Canada, I appreciated the odd beer, but it was never my drink of choice (I’m more of a whiskey girl). But once we got to Europe and started discovering the vast variety and incredible taste of foreign beers, I was converted. For me, the obsession began with Smithwicks in Ireland, and then really took off in Belgium. Leffe, La Chouffe and Chimay had me at the first sip. I also love a good radler, and will take a German Erdinger or Franziskaner over a Molson Canadian or Kokanee anyday.

Munich Beer Culture Paulaner

And finally, what is even better than Irish, Belgium and German beers combined? The beer culture, and this is illustrated nowhere better than in Munich.

Not surprisingly, as it is home of what must be the world’s biggest celebration of beer – Oktoberfest. And even when it’s not September (Oktoberfest actually starts in the previous month, didyaknowthat,eh?), the local appreciation of beer is still strong. During the summer months, in a city of just over one million people, there are over 100 operational beer gardens.

On a random Wednesday night, we ventured out to the Englischer Garden and were shocked by the amassed crowd. Rows upon rows of wooden tables were full of people, massive mugs of beer were passed between friends. Picnic dinners were spread out as patrons of the gardens are allowed to bring their own food.

Munich Beer Culture Double Fisting

Munich Beer Garden

We were ah-mazed that such a great number of people would be out on a weeknight, many probably straight from work to enjoy some drinks and the warm summer night.

Munich Beer Garden Sunset

We tried to imagine how this ever would have worked in our home city of a similar size. Maybe a couple would survive, if in really good locations. But 100? Never.

Maybe if they improved the beer…

Munich Beer Garden Danke

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  1. I myself am not a big fan of German beers, they always give me a killing headache on the next day. But have you been to Czech Republic yet and seen the beer culture there? I think it’s much better than German. Plus their beer is so much better 😉

  2. I’m not a beer drinker but there have been a few European beers I have actually liked.

    The brewery in Sarajevo has an interesting history and of course Tim had to come home with some brews from there.

  3. You are right about how the beer tastes great, but the culture is honestly what makes it so special, it truly is a special part of the life of Bavarians. We spent my birthday, Aug 18, at the Augustiner Biergarten downtown, and it was one of the highlights of our three weeks.

    1. Very cool Scott! That had to make for a pretty awesome birthday. I just love love love how people are out and enjoying themselves like that, in our old life people were always shut in to their own houses after work. Such a fun environment.

  4. I’m usually a wine girl, but there is something wonderful about European beers — I really enjoy Belgian beers. Man, that “warm summer night” pic really looks inviting. Cheers!

  5. The best thing about this post is that stumbleupon believes I am fascinated in all posts “beer” related, and now wants to know if I’d like to follow the “alcoholic drinks” interest. I didn’t know there was one.. but yes please! So thanks for that 😉

    Also.. Germany is definitely a nation obsessed with it’s beer, I observed this when I was there. It’s very important to quickly work out which beer is the locally produced one, and drink that one almost exclusively. Also, beer is generally cheap. And cheap is good 😀

  6. Great article, I love the beer garden culture out there but drinking on a school night is asking for trouble! We were told that in Munich you’re actually allowed to drink a certain amount of beer IN WORK!

    1. I think it would be a HARD place to live without being able to drink beer! It’s everywhere! I’m surprised it doesn’t run out of the kitchen taps.

  7. Loved that Paulaner glass beer picture with the two beers in the background glowing. I also love Europe beer, but have yet to go to Germany. I’m planning on going next summer and can’t wait. I will probably drink a lot of beer. 😉 Wish I could tie it in with Oktoberfest, but that will probably have to wait until another year.

  8. You know I’m always down for a good beer story! We just returned from a couple weeks in Germany and Switzerland and will echo your comments. Canada has really stepped up its beer game over the past 3 years, but the culture will never compete with Europe (mainly because most Europeans can hold their booze better than North Americans).

  9. I really enjoyed the beer tasting we did in Belgium, which surprised me. Beer isn’t my drink of choice either, but I really liked those. The beer gardens here are fun too, definitely different than anything you’d find back home. One of the ones in Freiburg is walking distance from our apartment, which is really nice!

  10. Sigh, I’ve come to admit long ago that Canada has some cool things to offer the visitor (poutine, salmon from the west coast).. but beer or coffee is not one of them.

    Europe has the market on both those. I found myself drinking coffee lots and I rarely drink it!


  11. You can’t beat a German beer festival specially when Paulaner is available, I love that beer! Your photos are great and are making me want to be there right now!

  12. I never liked drinking beer in Canada. It was only after I visited Germany that I became a convert. The beer culture is awesome in Germany. I love going to biergartens.

  13. Munich certainly does have a great beer culture! I really love your shot at the English Garden! I spent my last birthday there at the beergarden next to the lake sipping a Paulaner and watching the sun set. Great times indeed 😀

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