Beer beats legend

Updated: 2008-05-08 15:38

For our non-German readers who may not be familiar with the German legend that is Hofbrauhaus, this 500 year-old institution is a famous brewery and restaurant in the heart of the Bavarian capital. Last week, Hofbrauhaus opened their second venue in Shanghai at 39 Taojiang Lu (the old "Castle Oktober").

Over the centuries, the Hofbrauhaus has become intertwined with German culture and history. More than one infamous political figure had graced their doors: Adolf Hitler outlined the paper that became the basis of the ethos of the Nazi Party while downing Hofbrauhaus brews -- and what delightful conversation he must have been while he was doing it. Vladimir Lenin (not John) frequented the joint during his tenure in Germany, and is said to have proffered this little bit of wino wisdom from his experiences therein: "beer washes away all class barriers."

So, whether you're an Adolf, a Vladimir, or just your average non-despotic beer connoisseur, the Hofbrauhaus is a key attraction when visiting Munich. It's the mother of the Munich Beer Festival and home to some of Germany's best beers. This microcosm of Deutschland features beer, dirndls, folk music, sausages, schnitzel, pretzels, roast pork, and busty blond German waitresses balancing obscene amounts of beer.

So last year, when I heard a Hofbrauhaus was opening in Pudong, I hurried off to the former marshlands. My first and only visit there was a big disappointment. Located in a deserted strip mall near the Science and Technology Museum, I was dismayed at the cold and unfriendly interior, tiny menu, and acoustically grating entertainment program performed by a drunken one-man band.

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