A Beer Hall (German: Bierpalast, Bierhalle) is a large pub that specializes in beer… Duh!
But more than that, a Bier Hall is a place to gather, eat, listen to music, dance, and have fun. The most famous Bier Hall is the Hofbräuhaus in Munich, founded in 1589 as the royal residence’s brewery. Every year it hosts, along with every Bier Hall around the world, the ultimate Bier Garden event, Oktoberfest. The long benches filling every beer garden are designed to facilitate meeting old neighbors and making new friends. “Just say nein” to isolated booths or tables by taking a seat, ordering your favorite pilsner, and striking up a conversation with the person you’re bumping knees with.
And what’s the second most important bier hall item? Food, of course! Bratwurst nestled in sauerkraut, schnitzel, and giant pretzels are the most famous, with rindfleisch (beef stew), spatzle (think mac n cheese), knodel (dumplings) and strudel desserts as perennial favorites. More than just appetizers, a Bier Hall typically includes a full restaurant.
As long as we’re here, why not play a game? German board games, sometimes called Eurogames or Euro style games, are multi-player table top games that stress strategy and downplay luck and conflict. They tend to have economic themes rather than military, and keep each player involved until the end. In 2009, Germany purchased more board games per capita than any other country. Quite often there is a Spielmeister, or “game master” in charge of teaching, monitoring, and promoting games.
Throw in polka music, occasional slightly-louder-than-polite laughter, a generous portion of good natured teasing, a few good stories, and you have a prescription for fun. That’s the real definition of a Bier Hall.
This lager beer comes from southern Germany, a stronger version of traditional bock first brewed in Munich by the Paulaner Friars, a Franciscan order founded by St. Francis of Paula.Historically, doppelbock was high in alcohol and sweet, serving as “liquid bread” for the Friars during times of fasting, when solid food was not permitted. The name might come from the town of Einbeck or from the German word “bock,” meaning a male deer or goat.
There are several kinds of bock beers, including:
Traditional bock beer; a paler, more hopped version generally made for spring festivals
Maibock; also known as helles bock or heller bock, is a helles lager lighter in color and with more hop presence
Eisbock; a much stronger version made by partially freezing the beer and removing the ice that forms
Dopplebocks; like the Bayern Bakken Bock on tap in the Bier Hall
Dopplebocks typically have malty and nutty flavors and low hops (which affect bitterness). Depending on the specific beer, you’ll get notes of caramel, nut, coffee, or even some fruit. They can range in color from light amber to dark brown, and often have a higher alcohol content than regular beers at 6.3% to 7.2%.
As you might expect with a German beer of this style, dopplebocks go very well with a hearty meal. Try a glass with Rindfleisch und Rotkraut stew, any of the brats, the Ruben pizza, or any meal that has enough flavor to stand up to the assertiveness of the beer.
Our neighbor to the west, Montana, houses an authentic German beer treasure, the Bayern Brewery in Missoula. Jürgen Knöller, the owner and Masterbrewer, was born and raised in Bavaria, Germany. He graduated from the Doemen’s Masterschool for Brewing Tech in Munich in 1987, and came to Missoula. Bayern (pronounced “Bye-ern”) is what Germans call Bavaria, a fitting name for the only true German style brewery in the Rocky Mountain area who brews in strict accordance of the German Purity Law (Reinheitsgebot). That means no berries, artificial carbonation, or ingredients other than malted barley, yeast, hops, and water. All Bayern beers are fully matured, a process that takes twice as long as mass produced domestic lagers and up to four times longer than conventional ales.
Jürgen wanted to produce a beer as honest and straight forward as the hard working men and women who are “rockin the Bakken”, so created a German Dark Dopplebock called “Bakken Bock”. Bakken Bock is a lager, so it is smooth and does not have the rough bite and/or aftertaste of other dark beers such as stouts or porters. It is also moderately-hopped with German and Czech hops, so it is a well-balanced treat after a hard day. Of course, with an 8.4% ABV, it means you really ought to heed that warning about no operating heavy machinery after drinking Bakken Bock.
Kölsch beer has a clear, bright, straw-yellow hue similar to other popular German beers brewed from mainly Pilsener malt.
Thirteen breweries produce Kölsch in and around Cologne, Germany according to specific brewing guidelines, including the German Beer Purity law. In adherence to the Kölsch Konvention of 1986 Kölsch may not be brewed outside the Cologne region. About ten other breweries in Germany produce beer in Kölsch-style, but are not allowed to call it Kölsch because they are not members of the convention. Outside of Europe, where EU law has no jurisdiction, many small breweries produce a hybrid ale lagered at low temperatures and call it “kolsch”, similar to ‘champagne’ and ‘tequila’.
The Fruh Brauhaus, founded by Joseph Fruh in 1904, is still run by the fifth generation of his descendants. It’s one of the most popular beers in Cologne and a favorite at the Depot Bier Hall. Try it out and taste the goodness of German Kölsch!
Radler beer is a refreshing blend of beer mixed with soda, juice, or lemonade. Perfect for hot summer nights, it’s a legitimately tasty alternative beverage when having fun with friends or enjoying a bite.
Innkeeper Franz Kugler in a small town named Deisenhofen in the Bavarian region of Germany, just outside Munich, invented the Radler beer. During the great cycling boom of the Roaring Twenties, Kugler created a bicycle trail from Munich, through the woods, which led directly to his drinking establishment. On a beautiful June day in 1922, a reported “13,000 cyclists” crashed Kugler’s party. Fast running out of beer, he blended it 50/50 with a lemon soda he could never seem to get rid of, and the rest is history.
Today some of the best Radlers you can find in the states still come from Central Europe, such as Stiegl Radler (lager and grapefruit soda). It weighs in at an uber light 2.5%, perfect for summer beer sessions. Equally as popular is the Stiegl Zitrone lemon. On tap is Schoferhoffer grapefruit Radler, and August Schell Brewing Company’s Shocked grapefruit Radler, which won gold at the Beverage Tasting Institute World Beer Championships in 2013. It’s light, crisp body combines mild hop flavor and a sensational citrus essense for a perfect balance of refreshing goodness. When it was first introduced, fruit beers were relatively uncommon, so “Shocked” was the response to grapefruit soda mixed with beer. It quickly turned to “delighted”.
Enjoy a refreshing Radler style beer on the patio with friends, a meal, while playing a game or trivia. They all go well with summer!
Helles (from the German word for ‘light’, ‘pale’, or ‘bright’) beers are a little sweeter than Pilsner style beers with less hoppy bitterness. It is an easy drinking, popular style of beer. Produced chiefly in southern Germany, particularly Munich, it was so popular that it has traditionally been available wherever German beers are sold. It is sometimes known as “Export” or “Munich Lager”.
Our Weihenstephaner Original is from the Freising area north of Munich. The Benedictine Weihenstephan Abbey, established the oldest still operating brewery in the world in 1040. Documents from 768 refer to a hop garden paying tithes to the Abbey, which some consider the beginnings of the brewing tradition there. The city of Freising licensed the brewery in 1040, which is claimed as the official start date. They continue to work closely with the Technical University of Munich (TUM) in their graduate studies program for brewing and beverage manufacturing. TUM was rated by Reuters as the 4th most innovative European university in 2017.
If you enjoy a smooth, mild, easy drinking beer with a hint of sweetness and very little bitterness, try the Weihenstephaner Original helles.
Royal Brewery in Munich, (Hofbräu München) is a breweryin Munich, Germany, owned by the Bavarian state government, originally the royal brewery in the Kingdom of Bavaria. Even today, they operate one of the largest tents in the famous German Oktoberfest.
Munich’s famous “hofbrauhaus”, was founded in 1589 by the Duke of Bavaria, Wilhelm V. It is one of Munich’s oldest beer halls. It was founded as the brewery to the old Royal Residence. The beer quickly became quite popular thanks to the first brewer, Heimeran Pongratz, and the famous “Bavarian Beer Purity Law”of 1516 that stated that only natural ingredients could be used in the brewing process.
Maximilian I, Wilhelm’s son and heir, did not care much for the popular Braunbier, which was the dark and heavy brown beer. So, in the beginning of the 17th century Maximilian I turned the brewery’s focus onto wheat beers and forbade all other private breweries to brew wheat beer, thus creating a monopoly. Hofbrau beer became so famous that it once saved the city from annihilation. When King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden invaded Bavaria during the Thirty Years’ War in 1632, he threatened to sack and burn the entire city of Munich. He agreed to leave the city in peace if the citizens surrendered some hostages, and 600,000 barrels of Hofbräuhaus beer. And you thought the Bud Light commercials were a farce!
After World War II, thanks in part to legions of American soldiers stationed in Munich bringing home beer mugs with the “HB” logo, the Hofbräuhaus quickly became Munich’s number one tourist attraction. Demand for Hofbräuhäuser in other parts of the world began almost immediately. Stop into the Mandan Depot Bier Hall and enjoy a glass or “das boot” and savor the history of Germany.