Session #134: Zum Biergarten

For the 134th edition of The Session, in which beer bloggers around the world write on the same topic, Tom Cizauskas has asked us to think about beer gardens.

A good beer garden is a kind of fairy tale that allows you to wallow in summer, and to imagine yourself above or outside the modern world.

We first became aware of how magical a German beer garden could be after Jessica went to the World Cup in 2006 and came back in love with the Englischer Garten in Munich where she saw thousands of football fans served litre after litre of Helles with unruffled efficiency.

A sunny beer garden.

When we think of Germany, we think of beer gardens: the high altitude majesty of the garden at the top of the Staffelberg; the backup garden of Würzburger Hofbräu we found by accident, which feels as if it’s deep in a forest despite the ring road on the other side of the hedge; or the riverside idyll of the Spitalbrauerei in Regensburg where this blog was born.

Continue reading “Session #134: Zum Biergarten”

Time Out's guide to beer gardens

Beautifully timed for the heatwave, Time Out has published its guide to the best 20 beer gardens in London.

We’d been planning to compile a similar list for a while (two years or so…) but never got round to it, not least because most decent beer gardens tend to be out in the suburbs.  There are certainly a few in here that we’ve been meaning to go to for ages — the Florence in Herne Hill and Stein’s in Richmond, for example.  But then, when one of the best gardens in London is on your doorstep (The Nags Head, Walthamstow) it can be difficult to get on a stuffy Tube to venture elsewhere.

Five great beer gardens in Würzburg

A pint of Wuerzburger Hofbrau Pils

1. Würzburger Hofbräukeller, Höchberger Straße 28

Where better to drink the stuff than at the brewery tap?  It’s a little walk out of the centre (about 10-15 minutes from the old bridge), but well worth it for the enormous garden.  This place inspired our latest trip — we thought about where we would most like to be in the world and planned the excursion around it.

2. Würzburger Hofbräu, Talaveraschlosschen

Another huge, leafy beer garden, next to a funny little building off the Mainausstrasse, in between the Friedensbrücke and the Brücke der Deutschen Einheit.

3. Biergarten an der Residenz (Würzburger Hofbräu)

This is basically a little scrap of wasteland next to the world-famous Residenz, but it shows how all you need is a couple of trees and a wooden shed to set up a beer garden. Not at all posh but nonetheless lovely.

4. Nikolashof and 5. Schutzenhof

These are both situated in the woods behind the Festung Marienburg, and have fabulous views across town.  Schutzenhof offers cheap and trashy schnitzels for all the family, whereas Nikolashof fancies itself a bit more, with a Japanese garden and rhubarb brulee on the menu.

The ticker may be particularly interested in Schutzenhof as it offers products from Wernecker, including Laurentius, an unfiltered Märzen beer brewed specially for the garden.  We didn’t care for it that much, but it’s nice to know it’s there.

To get to both places on foot, do not follow the signs, which are for road traffic and take you the long way round.  Instead, head for the Käppele from Nikolausstrasse, go up the steps behind it and you’ll find yourself on a little path that takes you first past the Nikolashof and then to the Schutzenhof (they’re about a five minute walk apart).

The Good Bierkeller Guide

biergartenbook

There are quite a few guides in German aimed at people who like beer gardens, but we think we’ve found the best.

Frankens Schoenste Bierkeller and Biergarten by Markus Raupach and Bastian Böttner is a weighty but handily sized guide to the most attractive gardens and pubs in Franconia. Even though our German is rudimentary, we found it easy to follow. For each city, town and village in Franconia, it suggests between two and twenty decent places to drink. It lists the beers on offer; gives details of how to to get to each boozer on public transport; and offers special tips for each one (Excellent asparagus menu in season! Particularly nice dunkel! Wonderful panoramic views from the terrace! And so on).

If you’re a regular visitor to Franconia, we’d say it’s a must, and a bargain at €16.95.

And its endless photos of green, sunlit beer gardens aren’t a bad way to cheer yourself up after a journey home from work in the rain, either.

In search of the authentic tapas bar experience: (1) North West London

Olives and Estrella Galicia in a shady bar in London
Olives and Estrella Galicia in a shady bar in London

En espanol

We tend to go to Spain around this time each year. However, due to starting new jobs etc we haven’t been able to plan anything, and so we started thinking about how to replicate some of the best Spanish experiences in London. In particular, we’re on a mission to identify all of the authentic tapas bars in London, ideally gathered together in convenient tapeos (tapas bar crawls).

Let’s make it clear: we’re not talking about restaurants that serve tapas or Spanish food. We’re talking about places where you can have a nice chat over some drinks and a tapa or two. Ideally, we’re looking for places where you can sit up at the bar and listen to old men bickering in impenetrable dialects, to get the real feel of being in Spain.

So, after a bit of internet research, we put together the following tapeo in north west London, an area we barely know. Continue reading “In search of the authentic tapas bar experience: (1) North West London”