Jamie Morton

Jamie Morton is science reporter at the NZ Herald.

Bar/fly: Munich

Jamie Morton learns the definition of super-sizing in Munich's leafy beer gardens.

Bavarians, like most Europeans, know how to acquit themselves at cafe tables and beer-garden benches. Illustration / Rod Emmerson
Bavarians, like most Europeans, know how to acquit themselves at cafe tables and beer-garden benches. Illustration / Rod Emmerson

"Excuse me? I believe I ordered the large beer?"

Channelling the cheese of 90s-era Mike Myers, this is how my reply should have come out when the waiter saddled my table with a glass bucket of beer.

But it had been my hiccup.

And of course, I was in Munich.

I'd spent the afternoon seeing the sights - the Marienplatz, the Frauenkirche, the Residenz - shuffling about in the Bavarian sun with crowds of beefy tourists and jet-setters stopping for shopping in the great German city.

Now came the time for doing what I'd really travelled here to do: drinking beer.

Bavarians, like most Europeans, know how to acquit themselves at cafe tables and beer-garden benches, sitting back and letting the afternoon wind on with great food, drink and conversation.

I couldn't help but see how we do it so backward at home - nursing a coffee just long enough to clear your inbox, or racing your mates to the bottom of your handles down at the local.

Munich is celebrated for its expansive, leafy beer gardens, and tasting the fizzy Bavarian nectar is only part of the experience.

My initial destination in Munich had been the Englischer Garten, supposedly home to the best beer gardens in the city, but a parched mouth led me to a seat at another unnamed beer garden just opposite the Italian-style Hofgarten.

A cool summer breeze was blowing through the trees above and I tried to pick the languages fellow patrons around me were chatting in when the waiter came over to take my order.

For nosh, I opted for currywurst - a German staple consisting of sausage and fries with red curry sauce and curry powder.

I noted a tall, slim glass of Hofbrauhaus on the table opposite and ordered a large beer, thinking I'd get the same.

"You mean a large beer? In the large glass, right?" enquired the waiter, in a thick accent.

Yep, I replied, large beer.

"You're sure? The large beer? In the big glass?"

Ja. Large beer. Danke schön.

When he returned, I noted why he'd made the effort to clarify. The huge froth-topped stein he plonked down was filled with more than a litre of beer - about three stubbies - and about twice the size of the glass I thought I'd ordered.

No matter, I told myself: I'm a Kiwi, I'm in Munich, I've got the afternoon to kill. Prost.

A second hand was needed to balance the vessel to my mouth as I took my first gulp of ale, the smooth gold running down my throat without the prickle of the lagers I'm used to.

It's interesting to think how some hardy Bavarians churn through eight or nine of these little glass barrels in half a day during Oktoberfest in Munich.

I gradually drained my stein's contents down to froth before climbing out of my seat and wandering, admittedly tiddly-headed, back into the hot cobblestoned heart of Munich.

What now. Shopping? No thanks. More wurst? Maybe later.

Another litre of beer? Why not? Prost.

- NZ Herald

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