This huge Beer Hall teeming with tourists hides some interesting facts not only in its historic legends but also in its architecture. Hofbrauhaus is certainly a clichéd touristy place for the locals. During the Oktober fest, it is brimming with the crazy beer lovers. However, for a curious traveler in you, it also offers some interesting Hofbrauhaus History tales of its 400 years old past in Munich! For a backpacker like me, it was an ideal place to explore.
It has the capacity to accommodate more than 3500 guests at a time. And they are served the most famous Bavarian Beer right under the historic roof of Braustuberl. It a huge ground floor hall that once housed the brewery which is now shifted near the river Isar in order to create more space for the ever-increasing guests of Hofbrauhaus.
The current building of Haufbrauhaus isn’t the original building!
The beer was once considered a basic food in the Bavarian states just like bread. Gradually, the first Food Law in 1516 declared it as a beverage which gave way to its permitted or legal brewing process. This law is in enforcement till date. The year 1589 marked the first foundation of Hofbrauhaus by Duke Wilhem V. It was not at the same place as the current Hofbrauhaus but was quite nearby. The historical foundation of the current Beer Hall was laid in 1607 at Platzl. This hall became famous for the white beer brewing or Wheat Beer.
The current building was nothing but a Royal Beer Palace used during the celebrations and festivals. It was then restored a number of times after 2 bombs were dropped on its 2nd-floor hall during the World Wars. It also suffered during a few fire accidents.
Raising a Toast in the Name of the King
King Ludwig I declared the Royal Beer Hall to be a Public Beer Hall in the year 1828. This was a moment of celebration for the beer lovers of the Bavarian Kingdoms. The regular guests still raise a toast in the name of the king while remembering his generous act. It seems like the history being live-telecast at Hofbrauhaus. Thanks to King Ludwig, the palace is open for you and the people from all over the world.
A Nazi Party Assembly Hall or A Festival Hall!
This ancient hall is a witness of the early announcements and declarations of the Nazi Party by Hitler himself. The brewery was located on the ground floor and the guests rejoiced at the festival hall on the 2nd Floor. This place is kind of a ‘secret’ as it is not easily visible. It is open for the visitors from 17:00 hours onwards. The grand paintings and ornate décor beautify this eerily silent place. The flags of the ruling Bavarian Kingdoms of the bygone era still adore the walls of the festival hall.
In fact, if seen carefully, the ceiling of the ground floor still shows some glimpses of the Nazi symbol of Swastika, tactfully covered behind the colourful paintings.
Tables Named after Kingdoms and Bavarian Kings
“Stammtisch“, read a hoarding upon a table while entering the huge hall of Hofbrauhaus. Three-tables ahead, another hoarding said “Königlich Hairischer Stammtisch“. There was also a picture of a nobleman. I could hardly recognise him but understood that the specific table was meant for a group of “regular or daily guests” of Hofbrauhaus.
This Royal Beer Hall has more than 120 tables reserved for these regular guests who are usually retired and Hofbrauhaus is their meeting hall. They talk about society and sometimes discuss politics. The reserved tables are named after officials, Bavarian Kingdoms or after a specific group. For an instance, right nearby the stage for the music band, there is a table named after Musicians. Isn’t it interesting to choose your table based on your interest!!
The Regular German Bavarian Visitors Dressed as in the Olden Times
My couch surfing host had already conveyed about the people who still wish Bavaria to be a kingdom and want their culture to be preserved well. This was one of the things that attracted me to HB. The regular guests sitting under the signboard of a famous guest, a King or a kingdom were all decked up with the traditional leather pants named ‘Lederhosen’. They were mostly worn during hardcore physical activities but for Bavarians, they are the symbol of their regional pride. They are paired with the checkered shirt and a cowboy hat. A white feather tucked in the hat makes the ‘Bavarians’ stand out in the crowd of tourists from all over the world.
Isn’t it surprising to meet the locals still living the pages of history at Hofbrauhaus of Munich!
The HB Stein Shelves
The regular guests in HB have the reserved tables and have their own Beer mugs or ‘stein’ as called in the local language. The guests open their shelf and take out their HB branded ‘stein’. They keep it on their tables to be filled after washing in a copper basin. The system has been kept alive since its establishment and the public opening in the 19th Century.
These shelves are open for the public to have a look at. The mugs were made of stone and later of an opaque material. The problem with these mugs was that a drunk guest couldn’t realise that his drink was almost finished. Moreover, the guests sitting in the garden might not realise if any flower or leaves of the huge chestnut tree fell in their mug. It might cause a health issue. And thus, the transparent mugs with HB hallmark were introduced in the modern time.
Now, these classy HB mugs adore the streets of Germany as souvenirs kept for sale. It ranges from 35 Euros to 135 Euros. Be aware, it is alluring enough to make you spend on it. 😉
The Beer Garden
The Beer garden is probably an apt place for a happening eve. Munich, in fact, most of the German cities, flourish with beer gardens all around. It is nothing but an open place where the only canopy is a huge tree or just the sky. The beer gardens are always full on a lovely sunny day. The garden at Hofbrauhaus bustle under the flared hood of an antique chestnut tree.
The coolness and sprinkles of the lion fountain, standing proudly at the center of it, can be rejoiced by the people sitting around it. The symbols of a lion are commonly seen all over the city as it is the imperial symbol of the city of Munich. The grand staircases from this garden would also take you to the Festival Hall on the Second Floor. Trust me, you won’t be able to find the way to it by yourself, so, do take help of a staff.
Singing the glorious saga of the past, when the drunk guests scribbled the glossy wooden sheet with a knife, the tables of HB can unarguably be considered as a living entity. They are scribbled to the extent that you can’t even read most of the words clearly. Still, the feeling of sitting on a 19th Century table that survived the World Wars and the fire accidents is an experience in itself. Try sitting on one of these ‘Unreserved’ tables and listening over the conversation of the regular guests.
Traditional Sales of Pretzels
Pretzels anyone? 2 Euros a Pretzel, please? This is just my imaginary translation of what this young girl speaks in her fluent German while selling the trademark food of Hofbrauhaus, Pretzels. And of course, some candies for the kids.
It really looks like a dramatic performance as she wanders around the tables holding a pretzel up in her hand.
The Traditional Music Band
In order to keep the charm of the golden era alive, even the traditional band, dressed in the Bavarian style, play live music almost throughout the day. It might be boring if you don’t know anything about it, but their dressing, music instruments and the music itself would surely take you on a time-travel.
Things to Note Before Visiting Hofbrauhaus
- The entry is completely free free free… You are not obliged to take any food or drink just because you entered in.
- It is located at Platzel near the old city square. You can either walk or cycle till here.
- The staff and the guests are usually very friendly. Do take their permission before clicking and they would ensure a pose too.
- It is one of the cheapest places to eat and drink with an ambience as it is owned by the state government and the prices are not according to the market competition.
- Vegetarians, yea, just a countable number of usual dishes are available for you. Non-vegetarians might want to try their famous meatballs.
This article is written in collaboration with Munich Tourism, However, the exploration was done independently and the views/experiences are of my own. You can find many such similar places on their official website.
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