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Munich and beer have always gone hand in hand, and it's not about to change.
Munich boasts the greatest beer tradition in the world – an immense source of pride for the town’s inhabitants who form lifelong loyalty to their favourite brand. This love of beer sometimes carries over into Münchner’s fashion sense, as beer bottles bearing the Augustinian stick on the label are sometimes worn as a summer accessory. Despite deep-rooted tradition, new and young beer brands are nevertheless able to emerge in this highly competitive market.
Six large breweries occupy the top ranks of the Munich beer market, including: Augustiner, Hacker Pschorr, Paulaner, Löwenbräu, Spaten and Hofbräu. These breweries have the exclusive right to serve their beer at the Oktoberfest. Augustiner was founded in 1328 and is one of the oldest breweries in Munich. The brand’s reputation has spread far beyond the borders of Munich and is one of the most popular beers in Berlin. The beer owes its popularity to its cult character, and achieved this without marketing and advertising – though Oktoberfest is probably the greatest beer advertisement one can imagine. It’s worthy to note that the Augustiner tent is the only brewery at Oktoberfest where beer is still traditionally served in wooden barrels.
Meanwhile, many small breweries have managed to establish themselves in and around Munich. These include: Hopfmeister, Isar Bier, Hopfenhäcker, Tilmans, Giesinger, Isar Kindl, Haderner, Munich Brew Mafia, Forschungsbrauerei, Brauerei im Eiswerk, Schiller Bräu and Westend Bräu. Some breweries are even crafting different types of beer, like IPA’s and Porters – with such a variety, beer drinkers simply can’t get bored. Generally, though, lager, wheat beer and brands like Schneider Weisse and Tegernseer are the most popular in Munich.
New brands and beer styles are a thorn in the side of the purists, with many traditional beer drinkers and brewers sticking to the purity law of 1516 – the first food law enforced to protect the consumer, and also regulated beer prices. Even the small breweries must follow the strict guidelines to be allowed to call their brewed product ‘beer’.
The consumption of beer is often connected with food. The most popular combination is white sausage and wheat beer, although a good lager does pair well with roast pork. In beer gardens, people drink from large glasses and the star feature is always the beer foam – better known as the ‘head’. Even athletes enjoy a beer, but only non-alcoholic beer, because it consists only of natural ingredients and is isotonic.