While the clink of beer steins and the sound of German folksongs at Oktoberfest in Munich may be over for another year, in the heart of Hamburg you can experience a taste of the Oktoberfest atmosphere every day at Hofbräu Wirtshaus on Speersort. The enormous German beer hall used to be a press house, and is the perfect setting for two floors of traditional German beer, Munich sausages, Bavarian pork and plenty of other German and Austrian delicacies.
I was in Hamburg for a work trip, and after a day of meetings myself and a few colleagues went along for the evening, for some food and drinks. We don’t get to see much of the places we visit, but we thought with it being Oktoberfest and a German bank holiday we would try sample some authenticity.
Hofbräu Wirtshaus is somewhere I visit on my first ever trip to Hamburg, and I had some pretty good food there. When I did a quick search of places that were still celebrating Oktoberfest in early October (strange I know but the official dates for the Munich based festival are actually the end of September) this was one of the few still going.
On arrival you find yourself in a small lobby area full of Munich merchandise, including football shirts, beer steins and other memorabilia. We were taken through to the main hall, which is similar to other German beer halls I’ve been in, with long wooden tables and benches, a decorated stage in the corner, a long bar with beer barrels a plenty, and a giant copper fermenter.
Flags with the Hofbräu beer logo and blue and white colours are draped from the ceiling, and staff are all in traditional German lederhosen.
When searching for reviews of this place, I’ve seen a few that refer to it as a place simply for tourists, but this is far from the experiences I’ve had on both times I’ve been there. I’m not sure if it was because it had been a German bank holiday, or if they were still celebrating Oktoberfest, but the place was full of locals, many of whom were also in traditional German dress.
I wouldn’t describe it as ‘touristy’ at all in terms of clientele. Like us, many groups of people were there after work for drinks with colleagues, and as the evening wore on the crowd turned into groups of German friends.
To start with we ordered a round of Hofbrau steins, and a pretzel each, which came in a little wicker basket and were sprinkled with salt. They’re not daft, they definitely make you order more drinks. It was a good little starter for us all until a few more people arrived, and we could order our evening meal.
One of the girls went for the Viennese veal schnitzel, but for the rest of us it was such a hard choice between all the meat that we went for the shared Hofbrau meat plate, which comes with pork roast, meat loaf, grilled sausages, sauerkraut, potato dumplings and lots of gravy for 19 euros each.
It came all on one platter for us to dish out amongst ourselves and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it. The potato was really goo-ey, and there was so much apple sauce to go with the pork too.
Other traditional dishes on the menu include favourites like goulash soup, Jausen cold meat platter, and Bavarian potato soup to start, a whole range of sausage dishes including Frankfurters and Munich Weisswurst, all manner of steaks, and all the meats I mentioned previously on the platter as individual mains. For desert round off your Bavarian meal with a hot apple strudel and vanilla sauce.
What I loved about the place was that even after you’ve eaten, there’s no pressure to leave, and not many people did. Your reservation means you get your table for the whole night, and the staff are more than happy to keep bringing rounds of steins as you keep ordering. As the night went on the live music began, and was traditional with many locals getting up to dance.
If you’re ever in Hamburg I would recommend a visit for an evening, especially if you’re with a group. It’s very informal, but a lot of fun. From spring the outside area turns into a big outdoor beer garden, which I’ve not yet experienced, but from the photos also looks pretty good.
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