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”