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.
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.
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.
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…
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 😉
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One day we will get there…I’ve tried some Czech beer before but not much. Belgian beers are the best! 🙂
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.
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Well, yeah! Gotta sample the goods! 🙂
Again, gorgeous photos. You really know how to capture a moment 🙂
Thank you! We lucked out with an excellent dusk and sunset that night. 🙂
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.
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.
Germany definitely does have great beer and beer culture! I can appreciate the occasional Canadian beer as well though.
There are a few microbrews that I do enjoy in Canada, but I’d still take a Belgian beer anyday. 🙂
You make me homesick!! There’s nothing better than sitting in a beer garden with some friends on a hot summer night 🙂
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SORRY! That is a pretty good home to be *sick* for! 🙂
We are not big beer guys, although I am always up for cold, cloudy wheat beer.
I would like to try german beers and see if it is something we could get more into (like we need to be “more into” alcohol). 🙂
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Pete likes those cloudy wheat beers as well. I can never remember names but Erdinger (I think!) is a good one you might want to try!
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!
Different water? Different wheat? They are definitely better! Maybe because they are also higher in alcohol %… 🙂
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 😀
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Woot! This post comes with bonus booze posts! 🙂
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!
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Ooh – that’s interesting! And not surprising. 🙂
And if you go to the beer gardens earlier in the day, you’ll see a lot of families with children. Some, like the famous Prater Garten in Berlin (the one that was in Bourdain’s show) even have playgrounds inside the garden. Brilliant if you ask me.
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One of my favorite hangouts. Glad you guys made it there. Now do you see why I love Munich so much,even if I don’t drink beer? 🙂
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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.
I never thought I’d say this — but what a pretty picture of a beer!
Not a beer fan, I take it? 🙂
I still remember the first Paulaner I had in Germany. I couldn’t get over how wonderfully different it tasted from the imported stuff in the US.
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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.
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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).
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Yes the beer culture in Munich is the ultimate. It’s nice to see people getting out on week nights rather than just going home and watching TV! I think my love for beer started here as well.
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!
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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!
I miss that Beer culture so much! There is nothing better than whiling away the time in one of the amazing beer gardens with hundreds of Germans.
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!
Thanks Jess! Even just a regular Wednesday night in Germany is a good night for Paulaner. 🙂
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.
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 😀