Heritage and heart drive the humming beer scene in Munich, Germany. With Oktoberfest officially beginning Saturday, September 21st, 2019, the Bavarian capital will welcome an estimated seven million visitors to the world’s 186th celebration of lager. Beginning in 1810 with the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen, Oktoberfest started as a celebration of this harmonious royal wedding. Throughout the years the festival has transformed into a revelrous week of events that famously starts when the Mayor of Munich says the magic words, “O’zapft is! (OHtsahpft is!),” meaning, “It is tapped!” He’ll break open the first barrel of beer to signal the beginning of all Oktoberfest festivities. Traditions such as these are paramount in Bavaria.

Rooted in centuries of history, Munich’s beer industry has thrived by following the rigid Reinheitsgebot or Purity Law. Written in 1516 this piece of legislation states that beer in Germany must contain only four key ingredients – water, barley, hops, and yeast. A tenet that Bavaria’s Big Six breweries – Augustiner, Hacker-Pschorr, Hofbräuhaus, Löwenbräu, Paulaner, and Spaten-Franziskaner – have followed for over 500 years. Despite the strict stipulations, Munich’s classic beer halls still attract a thorough crowd of locals and tourists alike to their storied taverns. And, while Munich is best-known for these historic pantheons of pints, a small, but niche craft brewery scene has steadily grown. Making craft beer outside the traditional Reinheitsgebot is tricky, but Munich’s quirky set of innovators and pioneers have constantly found new ways to reach beyond the five-century-year-old law.

To celebrate this growing movement and this year’s Oktoberfest we teamed up with our friends at Mango Languages, a digital language resource inspiring curious humans to forge meaningful connections between different cultures. We’re threading our way past the Lederhosen and Dirndls and exploring the thriving Munich beer culture in all its pure and anti-Reinheitsgebot glory. To help guide you we’ll include some helpful German phrases to make sure you know exactly how to order a stein of your favorite Weiss or Hefeweizen or go out on a limb to try a new IPA or regional sour. Whether you’re visiting Munich specifically for the Oktoberfest celebration – to find your way to the festival ask anyone, “Wie komme ich zum Oktoberfest? (Vee KOMMuh ish tsoom ohkTOHbafest?) or, “How do I get to the Oktoberfest? – or just traveling into town, here are our top five picks for the best craft beer breweries in Munich, starting with the most traditional and working up to the avant-garde.


Platzl 9, 80331

Photo courtesy of Hofbräuhaus

If you’re looking for the most traditional German beer hall experience, then Hofbräuhaus is your new haunt. Attracting both tourists and locals, Hofbräuhaus boasts oompah bands playing in the background while waitresses dressed in traditional Dirndls and Lederhosen muscle through noisy crowds with overflowing steins of Hofbräu Original. This traditional Munich Helles lager follows the Reinheitsgebot to the T. In keeping with tradition navigate your way through the boisterous throngs or flag down an acrobatic hostess and use the phrase, “Noch a Maß, biddscheen! (nohkh ah mahs BIDshayn!),” which means “Another liter of beer please!” Use this expression to impress the Stammtisch or special Hofbräuhaus customers who drink from permanent personalized beer steins locked in their own case.

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Haderner Bräu

Großhaderner Str. 16, 81375

Photo courtesy of Haderner Bräu

Newcomer to the Munich beer scene, Haderner is an independent, family-run brewery in the eponymous suburb of Hadern. Toeing the line between time-honored and innovative, Haderner brews old-style recipes such as Weißbier and Helles alongside contemporary IPAs, low-alcohol, and even NA beers. With so many varieties to try, you might want a little advice on what to drink. Using the phrase, “Was ist Ihr beliebtestes Bier? (vus ist eer buhLEEBtustus beer?)” meaning “What’s your most popular beer” or “Was können Sie empfehlen? (vus KERnen zee emPFAYlen?),” meaning, “What do you recommend?” will help choose the best style for you.

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Giesinger Bräustüberl

Martin-Luther-Straße 2, 81539

Photo courtesy of Giesinger Bräustüberl

Think global, drink local is the ethos behind this brewery troupe. What began as a garage brewery has transformed into a tiny powerhouse in Munich. With the idea to combine world flavors with regional roots, Giesinger’s beers range from the more classic specialties such as its Wheat Beer or Geisinger Munique to the inventive Lemondrop Triple and Double-Alt. To seamlessly call for one of these use the common phrase, “Ihr bestes regionales Bier bitte (eer BEStes raygeeohnAHLes beer BITuh.) or “Your best local specialty, please.”

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Tilmans Biere

Thalkirchnerstrasse 53, 80337

Photo courtesy of Tilmans Biere

Started by Tilman Ludwig, a Munich native, in April 2014, Tilmans Biere takes classic beer styles and reinterprets them. Working for two years as an apprentice in the Huss Braui Brewery in Switzerland, Tilman moved back home to try his hand at starting his own business. His traditional and modern beers range from a wheat beer called Der Weizen that represents, “the union of traditional crafting and creative brewing art” to a mahogany stout called Hopfenbohne brewed with lightly roasted coffee beans. To embrace the Oktoberfest spirit, why not pick up the tab for all of your friends when you visit? If you’re feeling generous say, “Die nächste Runde geht auf mich (dee NAYKstuh ROONduh gate owf mish).” or “The next round’s on me!” to keep the beer flowing.

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Crew Republic

Andreas-Danzer-Weg 30, 85716

Photo courtesy of Crew Republic

The true rebel of the group, Crew Republic’s inventive, punk beers sway to the complete left on the conservative-contemporary scale of Munich beer. Brewing beer in the face of Germany’s beer titans, Crew Republic’s ultra cool, hip vibe seems to be more akin to Berlin. Instead co-founders Timm Schnigula and Mario Hanel set up shop in Munich’s Glockenbachviertel neighborhood. Both homebrewers, Timm and Mario started Crew Republic in 2011 to make, “creative and exciting beers that revolutionize the boring German beer world,” says their website. Known specifically for their anti-Reinheitsgebot beer, this brewery completely bucks Bavarian tradition. The most popular Drunken Sailor IPA, Roundhouse Kick Imperial stout, Sour Black, and flagship Foundation 11 Pale Ale are just a few of the unique beers on the tap list. With a series of beer this creative, it won’t be long until you’re hoisting a round and cheersing with your friends. To say this properly in Munich use the words “Prost! (prohst!) or Zum Wohl! (tsoom vohl!)” Interchangeable, both of these phrases are the most common way to ‘cheers’ someone. We say, “Zum Wohl” to Crew Republic’s motto, “Craft beer is not a Crime!”

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