Friday, 25 September 2015

Oktoberfest 2015, Munich

Oktoberfest 2015, Munich - Friday 18th to Monday 21st September 2015

Where to start on this one. This is the biggie. Six million people cannot be wrong.

Oktoberfest runs for two weeks from the end of September and culminates on the first weekend of October. It has been running for over 200 years and was initially held to commemorate the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. It has now turned into the largest folk festival in the world.

I, and my drinking buddy SH, have become something of a pair of veterans of this celebration. Although we have never got a table within the major beer tents, we have drunk in a couple fo them and also in the outdoor beer gardens that surround them. We are many-time visitors to the pair of stand up beer bars and have been in a couple of the smaller tents to eat and drink.

We no longer see the beer festival as the be all and end all of our Munich visits as we now try to hit the other bars and restuarants in the city in order to soak up the great Bavarian atmosphere generated by this weekend of festivities.

This weekend ended up being a Paulaner weekend for us. We did have one or two half-litres from other brauhauses (Lowenbrau and a few others whose names escape me at the moment) but mostly we drank Paulaner.
Friday: We arrived at the airport on separate planes, SH caught an earlier one than mine, and met at the bar directly outside Arrivals. We had a bottle and a half of Paulaner to whet our whistles and then booked into our now usual hotel - The Dolomit.

We quickly got booked in, changed and headed straight into town to find a bar that was showing England's opening Rugby World Cup game. The bar we ended up in was Ned Kelly's.

Frauenplatz 11, 80331 München, Germany
One side is an Irish bar and the other, connected at basement level, is an Australian bar. We had a half-litre before heading into the other bar to watch the rugby.

We managed to join a bunch of English lads who were watching the rugby at the tables on the right in the picture above (the tables had been turned lengthwise along the room when we got there). That is the big screen at the end of the bar. Most bars in Munich tend to have table service, and our waitress, Rebecca (her first time working in Munich) was fabulous. She brought us two large pitchers of beer and a fantastic burger throughout the match, as well as introducing us to the English lads watching the rugby and got us a space on their table.

After the rugby we headed back to our home turf where we grabbed a 0.5m pizza between us (and another beer) at the local pizzeria, Pipasa. We have spent a lot of time in this great little pizza bar over the years; to watch the parades, have an after beer snack or just relax and watch Bundesliga on one of their many TVs.
Schwanthalerstraße 24, 80336 München, Germany
Saturday: We got up early and grabbed breakfast in a great little cafe that overlooks the central Munich food market. We then returned to watch the brewery street parade from our hotel room which overlooks part of the main route it takes to Oktoberfest. After that we headed down to the Oktoberfest for a few beers and a go on a rollercoaster ride. We returned to our hotel after a few hours for a bit of a rest before heading out again into the rain for a few beers at one of the stand-up bars selling Paulaner Weissbeer. We met a great chap called David from Alaska and we chatted until closing time before heading to a local kebab shop for a beef doner in a wrap.

Sunday: Following a terrible night's sleep (it was very noisy with revellers all night) SH and I headed down to Pipasa to meet up with a few friends who we had met on our previous visit a couple of years ago; Peter (a retired US fireman), his girlfriend Mary-Beth and Matheus, a long time friend of Peter's. We watched the business and local village parade (a lot more colourful than the brewery parade) and then got a mini-tour of Munich on our way to the English Garden where we had a great time over a halbe-hendl and a maas of beer.

From here we then returned to central Munich via a small bridge where surfers ride the waves created by a tight narrowing of the river - a great spectacle. Matheus showed us a few more sights of the city, including an art exhibition detailing the various Oktoberfest brauhaus tents, before taking us down a small side-alley into a most wonderful sausage restaurant. It was full of locals, not a tourist in sight, and served the most fantastic sausages.

After saying our goodbyes, SH and I headed back to our hotel to freshen up and then returned to the Oktoberfest for a couple more beers and some souvenirs for the family.

Beers drunk on this visit : Mostly a variety of Paulaner, but also some Lowenbrau and a few others

Visits : This was our 7th trip to the Munich Oktoberfest.

The Coal Hole

The Coal Hole - Thursday 10th September

91-92 Strand, London WC2R 0DW
This is my second visit in just a few weeks to this pub. I met up, again, with my rugby chum SH for a few pints to discuss our upcoming trip to the Oktoberfest in Munich on the 18th. Over a few pints we discussed our forthcoming trip and various sporting items like England's chances in the impending Rugby World Cup.

The picture above is of the interior of the pub from the Wolf Club area - a separated off section of the pub where a bit more privacy is afforded. There is extra space above the Wolf Club with more tables at which most patrons tend to eat. The bar is a long, sweeping affair that runs pretty much the full length of the pub. As a result, seating is relegated to the edge of the pub and around the back where things open up for the Wolf Club.

As this was my second visit, I thought I would add a little more detail about the pub itself. The below is taken from the pub's own website...

Rumour has it, The Coal Hole occupies what was once the coal cellar for the Savoy Hotel! In the Victorian era, the pub was a 'song and supper' club where regulars were encouraged to sing comical songs and sentimental ballads. Gilbert and Sullivan regularly performed here in Edwardian times, the Shakespearean actor Edmund Keane started the Wolf Club here for oppressed husbands forbidden to sing in the bath!

Beers drunk on this visit:

1) Yardbird Pael Ale (4.0%) - Greene King, Bury St Edmunds - a bright, clear golden ale
2) Velo (4.2%) - Black Sheep Brewery, Masham, North Yorkshire - a hoppy, citrus and coriander pale ale
3) Lion (4.0%) - Hook Norton Brewery, Oxfordshire - a fruity, complex bronze ale

Visits : 2nd / a few

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

The Door Hinge

The Door Hinge - Saturday 5th September

11 Welling High St, Welling, Kent DA16 1TR
This was the first of the new micro-pubs that I visited. At the time, it was the only one available in the area and it turned out to be a breath of very fresh air on the Bexley pub scene. This was the one that set the benchmark for others to follow: real ale, no lager, no music, no mobile phones, just good old-fashioned conversation with friends in a great atmosphere.

On this particular visit I got to the pub half-an-hour before my mates and had a chat with the landlord and the pub-goers already there. It turned out to be a quiet night for a Saturday, just me, a few of my running friends (CM, NW, TJ), a table of four other fellas and a married(?) couple who were later replaced by another couple. That said, it was still lively in there and we all joined in each other's conversations on occasion.

The only problem on this particular visit was the limited beer menu - only three ales were listed on the board and one turned out to be off when I ordered a pint (the last in the barrel unfortunately). However, the session ale I was drinking, of which I had three pints, went down very smoothly and my mates enjoyed it too. The reason for the lack of beer was that Tranmere Rovers had come down to play Welling United (the football ground is almost opposite the pub) and their fans filled the pub before and after kick-off. As a result, they had drunk the place almost dry. Ray, the landlord, was more than happy for a quiet evening shift after such a busy day.

Beers drunk on this visit:

1) M.P.A. (3.7%) - J W Lees Brewery, Middleton, Greater Manchester - a malty, fruity, golden ale

Visits: 1st / a few previous

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

The One Inn the Wood

The One Inn the Wood - Saturday 29th August

209 Petts Wood Rd, Orpington BR5 1LA
Another new micropub that opened within the last year, this seems to be the best one I have been in so far. Even though it adheres to the same rules as all the others, the buzz in here is electric. It is a very friendly pub with great staff, a good choice of beers and a clientelle that is more than happy to pass the time of day with strangers. They also have a great beer board...

This was my second visit to this micropub since it has opened. I went with my ex-manager GW and friend NC who I went with previously (SM could not make it this time unfortunately) - they had been decorating all day and needed to quench their thirst. The One Inn the Wood has a great choice of ales, ciders and wine, as well as locally made pork scratchings and other quality bar snacks (crisps, nuts, olives etc.). I managed to get four beers in on this occasion, mostly different from the last time I went. A good thing about Petts Wood is the number of restaurants around for post beer cogitation. Previously we turned left out of he pub and stumbled into teh local Goan restaurant. This time we took a short walk to the local Thai - both restaurants come fully recommended as they also sell beer brewed in those particular countries. Previously, in the Goan restaurant, I had a Kingfisher but this time I had a local (bottled) Thai brew.

Beers Drunk on this visit:

1) Aureole Ale (4.0%) - Ascot Ales Brewery, Camberley, Surrey - a pale ale
2) Red IPA (5.5%) - Ascot Ales Brewery, Camberley, Surrey - a hazy red IPA
3) Hallertau Blanc (4.5%) - Canterbury Ales Brewery, Kent, - a single hop pale ale
4) Pernickety Pale (4.5%) - Kissingate, Horsham, West Sussex - a fruity pale ale
5) A small bottle of Thai beer

Visits: 1st / one previous