Tuesday, July 18, 2017

30 years ago today on THE BEER BEAT: Friday nights and Saturday mornings, Munich-style.

Previously: 30 years ago today on THE BEER BEAT: Munich's incredible Mathäser Bierstadt, symbol of a lost era.

July 18 (Saturday), 1987

Our time in Munich concluded with a whimper, though not without a bang slightly preceding it.

I cannot speak for the present time, but back in the eighties, not all of Munich's famous beer halls kept particularly late hours. On a Friday night in 1987, the late and lamented Mathäser Bierstadt closed down well before midnight, and when it did, our quartet of boisterous Hoosier history buffs already had been reduced to a trio.

It was Don who famously rose, grinned broadly, and disappeared. Later when asked, he insisted that his parting had been effusive and memorable, a valedictory oration surely among the most eloquent ever uttered in such an honorable establishment.

I'm here to tell you that he never said a word.

Our colleague might have been going to take a leak, but soon enough we assumed Don simply had returned to his lodging (which in fact he had), and so we ordered a final round of tasty liter-sized Löwenbräu lagers just ahead of last call.

By this time, the resident oom-pah band had completed its 12th and final rendering of "Waltzing Matilda" for the rowdy Aussies in the corner, and the massive nightly clean-up was beginning.

I was next in line to (verbally) capitulate and crawl back to the room, leaving Barrie and Bob to have one last beer at one of Munich's many bars, which stayed open late -- or early, depending on one's perspective.

Exactly what happened next remains foggy, but still is the stuff of legend. Barrie was uncommonly thirsty, and though outweighed, Bob kept pace. One beer turned into several, and a single establishment became two, perhaps even three.

At some point there was arm-wrestling, wagers and a drunken local fireman dubbed The Munich Stud. Seemingly all that was missing was a Weisses Schloss (White Castle) for sustenance as the morning newspaper was being delivered.

All in all, I was very happy to have slept through it.

Understandably given the duration and intensity of Friday's sessions in various beer dispensing stations scattered through downtown, a projected Saturday field trip on Saturday to the town of Dachau and its sobering concentration camp was cancelled.

The group finally reconvened later in the day, making a brief appearance at the Hofbräuhaus before realizing that we'd left our hearts at the Mathäser, returning there for more groaning platters of pork, dumplings and kraut, though somewhat less copious portions of Löwenbräu.

Barrie, Bob and I said our goodbyes to Don on Saturday night upon exiting the Mathäser well before last call. He departed Munich on Sunday morning to resume his habitual European travels, leaving the three of us to begin the next phase, with a train to Maintz and a Rhine River boat ride.

It had now been three weeks since Barrie arrived in Moscow, with my liver having aged an equal number of years. In some ways, the incessant revelry dented the monastic solitude of the weeks prior to the USSR tour, but I'd budgeted for it, and the fun has proven timeless.

If only I could remember more of it ...

Next: From Munich to Paris by Rhine and train.

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