We ascended the steps of the Silberhornstraße U-Bahn station on a crisp winter evening in Munich. The sun had long set on our merry band of down coated travelers. We’d braved brisk February days and nights by jumping from biergarten to bierstube drinking refreshing Helles (bright) and malty Dunkles (dark) in the homeland of the famous Bavarian potation. On this night, as the warm glow of the underground station disappeared behind us, the neon glow of our destination appeared: Giesinger Bräu.
Only a handful of months earlier Samantha and I threw out the idea of taking a trip to Munich in early February to her sister Jillian and Jillian’s husband David. Samantha had been researching cheap winter flights and they were too good to pass up. We didn’t have to bend any arms, and shortly after my wife’s brother Charlie joined the group. Our honeymoon had taken us to Munich several years prior during the world famous Oktoberfest. While it was a truly surreal experience I would recommend to anyone and I hope to repeat, we weren’t able to explore much of the city or the rest of the region. I also wanted to give Germany a more in-depth look from a beer perspective, as at that time I wasn’t the craft enthusiast that I am today.
For their reputation as a beer capital I would’ve expected Munich to be infested with craft breweries. However, while researching our trip that hypothesis was quickly proved incorrect. You can read more about this phenomenon in an upcoming post on the subject, but it all boils down to the beer purity law known as the Reinheitsgebot. Fortunately, I was able to line up a couple of leads and Giesinger Bräu rose to the top as the most worthy and accessible for us to visit.
We tried to arrive relatively early because Friday evenings seem to fill up fast in the city, even in the winter. Upon entering we were quickly greeted by a host that asked whether an hour and twenty minutes would be enough. This would be a common quirk of restaurants throughout our visit, letting us know that we had a set amount of time to eat before we’d be gently nudged toward the door. The first difference I noted was that this seemed to be a craft brewery disguised as a restaurant more than an American style brewpub. However, the signs were there for the astute beer traveler: kegs stacked in the courtyard, the telltale smell of wort, and a glimpse of the fermenters from a side door.
The host led us upstairs past a bevy of lively locals through their rustic wooden interior akin to restaurants strewn across the city. Once seated we began a dance that had grown familiar to us, the carefully orchestrated tearing off of hats and mittens, awkward arm movements of removing our jackets, locating room for our backpacks and cameras, and finally settling into reviewing the menu. Our waitress arrived shortly and after a couple of questions we each took turns ordering our beers. A couple people got flights, slightly saddened to know they could only use beers in it from the regular selection without the seasonal varieties, while the rest of us ordered a single drink.
We then turned our attention to their food menu. They only had a couple of English menus so we had to share, but by this point most of us could recognize the familiar German words for many of the traditional Bavarian dishes that had proved to be hearty and delicious. After walking through the chilly streets of Salzburg earlier that day I was ready to raise my core temperature with some soup made with beer, sausage, and herbs.
With our drinks on the table and our food order placed we dug in to taste the offerings. My drink was served in a stubby glass bottle with a colorful and well designed label. It was their Lemondrop Tripel and I began to wonder if it was served this way due to laws or if it was just a trait of their operation. It poured honey gold with a soft lacy head. There was an aroma of citrus fruit, a characteristic certainly from the Lemondrop hop variety that was this beer’s namesake. The flavor was fantastic, owed greatly to the endless lagers we’d been drinking during our stay. It was super smooth, with a light lemon flavor, and a typical belgian sweetness without being cloying. That beer reminded me most of the craft beers back home, which was funny given its style.
Our meals arrived alongside my second beer, their Wheat Stout. As I sipped on the delicious savory broth of my soup, I took note of the dark brown stout with a thick head and plenty of carbonation. It was fairly light in alcohol (4% ABV), which resulted in a taste that was more crisp than creamy and more dry than malty. It was a good beer but after the Lemondrop Tripel I think my mouth was expecting a little more. My final beer was their Winterbock. The perfect beer for a winter evening, it was sweet and smooth with an excellent mouthfeel. It was rich with hints of caramel and a faint hop bitterness. A great well balanced beer.
As we paid, packed, and bundled up I took the final few sips. Combined with the weather, the setting in which we’d become immersed, memories we’d forged over the past week, and clearly aided by the last two beers, the Winterbock really crystallized the entire Munich trip for me. A trip I can highly recommend to anyone, whether they are beer lovers or looking to become one.