Pub/Bar of the Month March 2011: Weisses Bräuhaus
Weisses Bräuhaus, Munich, Germany
The survival of the weissbier style owes much to one man, Georg Schneider, who secured the first commoner’s licence to brew wheat beers back in 1872.
Previously, wheat beer production had been a profitable monopoly held by the Bavarian royal family but, with the growth of golden lager, the style had fallen into decline and Herr Schneider was able to step in and secure the concession from the King.
Around the same time, he also acquired his own brewery, the Weisses Bräuhaus, just along the road from the famous Marienplatz in central Munich.
The brewery had been open since 1540, possibly earlier, but now Schneider brought it renewed success, quickly finding a profitable market for his wheat beers.
The Schneider family brewed here right up to 1944 when, following wartime bombing damage, they decided to concentrate production in the brewery they had acquired in 1928 at Kelheim, in the north of Bavaria.
They did not abandon the Weisses Bräuhaus, however. Extensive refurbishment saw the building reopened as a pub/restaurant, and it wasn’t until the 1980s that the reconstruction was complete, when the upstairs rooms were once again made public.
Today the Weisses Bräuhaus is a big, bustling tavern, decorated in traditional Bavarian fashion, that acts as a showcase for Schneider’s excellent brews.
Inside, thick, stone walls support high ceilings hung with chandeliers that cast light onto big, open rooms with wooden flooring, heavy dark furniture and sombre panelling. While stern family portraits line the walls, there’s more playfulness in the tall windows that are attractively inlaid with stained glass adverts for Schneider products.
In the sensible German tradition, there are plenty of places to hang your coats as you take a seat at one of the big communal tables and catch the eye of one of the busy but efficient waitresses. Meals – served from eight in the morning until 11pm – are typically hearty for the region, the sort of platefuls that mean you won’t be hungry for several hours after.
The house speciality is ‘skirt steak’ but be warned: this is not a cut of beef, rather a euphemism for the diaphragm of some poor beast.
They like offal in Bavaria, so it’s very popular, as are liver, kidneys, lungs and even spleen in their various forms, if the menu here is anything to go by.
Otherwise, pork is prepared in a hundred-and-one ways, and there are beef, chicken and vegetarian choices (mostly pancake or dumpling based).
However, the beer is the main attraction for many visitors. Schneider weissbiers are now classified by ‘tap numbers’. Not all numbers have yet been filled but Tap 1 is the Blondes weissbier and Tap 2 the Kristall (filtered version).
Tap 3 is an alcohol-free option, while Tap 4 is Grünes, an organic beer, and Tap 5 Hopfenweiss, a hoppy take on the style brewed initially as a collaboration between Schneider’s head brewer Hans-Peter Drexler and Garrett Oliver of New York’s Brooklyn brewery.
Tap 6 is the strong and majestic Aventinus, with Tap 7 the world-famous Schneider Weisse Original. Rounding off the selection are Tap 11, a light version (just 3.3%) and the (un-numbered) potent Aventinus Eisbock (an impressive 12%).
All are available in bottle but – and this is a rare find – the Blondes, the Original and Aventinus are also served on draught, which is reason in itself to make a beeline for the pub.
As Schneider only brews weissbier, the other beers on sale here come from selected compatriots. Tegernseer Hell is supplied by a former monastery brewery on the shores of the Tegernsee, near the Alps; Bräugirgl Dunkel is brewed by the Karmeliten brewery in Straubing, near the River Danube; and Stauder Pils is from Essen, between Düsseldorf and Dortmund.
Altogether, it’s an excellent range of beers that, even without the pub’s many other positive attributes, ensure it’s a must-visit place whenever you have the great pleasure of staying in Munich.
Tal 7, 80331 Munich.
Tel. (0890) 2901380
Opening Hours: 8am–1am