Bavarian Beer can’t be beaten

The indisputable champion of beer in Munich (and IMHO, the world) is Augustiner Helles. This unassuming looking bottle of beer is cheap, pure, ubiquitous and synonymous with 7th Heaven.

You can’t compare Bavarian beer to any other in the world. They’ve been at it for over 500 years and only the Belgians share the spotlight when it comes to beer. But even the Belgians compete in another category altogether for one simple reason: the Reinheitsgebot.

To understand the beer in Bavaria, you must understand this law (that’s right, it’s a law) that dictates the quality of the beer. It’s call the Reinheitsgebot or ‘purity law’ and it dictates that beer may only contain the basic necessary ingredients for making beer: malted grains, water, hops and yeast. No preservatives, no fruit, no flavouring, no artificial ingredients, no sugar, no chemicals.

I didn’t really understand just how amazing this beer was until one evening when I was invited to a dinner in a restaurant that didn’t serve it. It was a Mexican restaurant and they had a special on Sol, a typical Mexican beer which is also delicious. I drank about six beers but they are much smaller bottles and went home feeling far less drunk than normal.

The headache the next day was excruciating. I realised that I had not really had a hangover in a very long time. Why? Because Bavarian beer is Bio (not that they would ever put such an emasculating label on such an icon of masculinity) and besides the obvious dangers of alcohol, it’s pretty damn healthy. (Not that I’m a doctor or anything)

There are really only two types of beer in Bavaria: Helles and Weißbier. There are several breweries which make helles and weißbier but Augustiner, Paulaner and Tegernseer are among the most popular.

There are a few popular variations on these two beers. Radler is the most common variation. It is a 50–50 mix of helles and lemonade, a shandy in English. Alkoholfreiweißbier is a variant of a weißbier, simply with no alkohol. This is very popular on the hundreds of Berghutte (mountain huts) on the walking and cycling tracks in the Alps and for this reason is said to be isotonic. Russ’n is the last popular variant and is again a 50–50 mix of weißbier and lemonade. Beer with coke, banana flavoured Russ’n, alkohofreihelles are also around but not so ubiquitous.

Beer in Bavaria is straightforward. Decision fatigue is not a problem you will face in the bottle shop (or supermarket, or petrol station, or kiosk, or pizza shop… you can buy beer just about anywhere).

Having the best beer in the world available on every corner is one of the amazing aspects to life in Munich. This cultural anomaly of beer-a-plenty echoes into other areas of life and makes drinking a cornerstone of life here. Prost.

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