German beer is some of the best you will ever try and the country's purity laws (reinheitsgebot)and long brewing history ensure that it will stay that way. In Munich Germany the Hofbrauhaus has a history of its own which guarantees an experience that lives up to its reputation. Any visit to the Bavarian capital city would be lacking if you did not make your way into the massive beer hall, toss back a liter of beer, mingle with the locals and enjoy the Bavarian music.
With a history that dates back to 1589 when Wilhelm V, the Duke of Bavaria decided to build a brewery in Munich the Hofbrauhaus has changed little. Realizing potential revenue from making the beverage affordable to the public and the subsequent demand German royalty were "forced" to expand the enterprise over the following years. The brewery was moved twice; once in 1607 (to where the beer hall stands today) and again in 1896 to allow more room for, well, drinking. While not much of the Hofbrauhaus survived bombings during WWII, its location has remained the same. While the beer is not brewed at the Hofbrauhaus itself ,Platzl 9 is still the place serving great beer and Bavarian food.
Finding the beer hall couldn't be easier once arriving in Munich. Simply follow the quick walking tourists heading away from the train station or the line of stumbling tourists making their way back. Head east after leaving the Main train station (Hauptbahnhof) towards the first main plaza Karlsplatz. This will essentially be the direction you will exit the train station. Continue on east along Neuhauser strasse which turns into Kaufingerstrasse(all a pedestrian zone), ending at Marienplatz; a big plaza with a wonderfully ornate clock tower complete with moving figurines (glockenspiel). Continue on through the plaza and make a left three blocks up on Hochbruckenstrasse; two more major streets and you will see the Hofbrauhaus on your left on Brauhausstrasse.
Once inside you will be treated to rows and rows of usually packed tables, the smell of Bavarian food (variety of pork, weisswurst, potato salad, etc) and waitresses wandering around in traditional garb selling pretzels. Try to find a table and sit on down. A waitress will be by from time to time to take your orders and make sure you have a constant flow of beer. Be careful however when you sit down that there is not a sign on the table that reads stammtisch. These tables are reserved for a regular gathering of German locals who meet up once or twice a week to discuss amongst themselves. You can kind of think of them as book clubs...book clubs that are there to drink and if you are at their table they will not be happy and you will soon find yourself trying to find another seat.
On one visit to the beer hall I found myself at a table pushed up against one of these stammtische. After a couple beers we all began chatting and my friends and I were welcomed into their group. I must say, I have never seen two older ladies (in their late 60's) put back so much beer. In the end we lost track of time and missed our train; leaving us "stranded" in Munich until the next morning. This however was not much of a problem since after recovering from the failed sprint back to the train station we just wandered back to the Hofbrauhaus which remained o pen until 2am.
Albeit full of tourists, the sheer size of the place, the wooden tables and benches, the clamor of the German language being spoken all around you and the traditional ambiance is an event that shouldn't be missed.