The world’s most famous beer hall, a visit to HofBräuhaus is a must for those who want a true taste of Munich.
The history of the HofBräuhaus goes back more than four centuries. The beer hall was first established in 1589 by Duke Wilhelm V in order to satisfy his “thirsty and demanding household”. The finicky drinkers were unhappy with the brews produced in the city of Munich, so the decision to build their own brewery seemed like a logical one.
First, the Hofbräuhaus brewed only brown ale, but when Wilhelm V’s son took over, he preferred wheat beer and that soon became the focus of the brewery. Sales of the wheat beer were so successful that brewers had a difficult time keeping up with the demand. By about 1607, it was necessary to move and expand the Hofbräuhaus, and the beer produced here was first served to the public in 1610.
New brews were soon added for variety and by the turn of the nineteenth century, the Hofbräuhaus was once again moved to a larger location. Prices were lowered so that “common folk” could afford the royal beer, and the Hofbräuhaus nearly put private tavern owners out of business. In 1852, the State of Bavaria assumed ownership of the Hofbräuhaus.
In 1896, it was decided that the brewery was once again too small, so the old facility was torn down and a new one built in its place. Architect Max Littmann was chosen to design a building in traditional Bavarian style that would serve as a modern restaurant facility. His creation opened in 1897 and some of it still stands today.
The Twentieth Century
The beer hall continued its successful operations throughout the early decades of the twentieth century. In 1944, during a bomb strike on Munich, much of the HofBräuhaus was destroyed. By the end of the war, only a small portion of the restaurant was operational. Amazingly, several hundred beer steins were rescued from the basement, unscathed, despite the bombing.
Rebuilt in its original style, the hall reopened in 1958 to honor Munich’s 800th birthday. The same family – the Gerdas – has managed the hall since 1980.
Drinking at the HofBräuhaus
There are several choices as to where you can enjoy your beer inside this immense hall. For a true Munich experience, head to the ground floor Schwemme, where you can join up to about one thousand other guests for a stein of the Hofbräuhaus’ fine brew and a chance to hear tradition German oom-pah music. Upstairs, the smaller Bräustüberl serves light Bavarian cuisine. The historic Festival Hall seats about nine hundred and features a stage where guests can enjoy Bavarian dance, music, and folklore. In the warmer weather, visitors can drink their brew in the outdoor beer garden.
But the biggest treat – besides the beer – is watching the traditionally-dressed servers juggle ten beer steins at one time! Have your camera ready, and don’t forget to grab a pretzel to go with your beer!