Back in March I developed a habit. A really bad habit. For a couple of weeks there, I couldn’t go a day without a butter pretzel.
Shameful, I know. The problem is, pretzels are so abundant in Germany. I mean, you can pick them up from the train station. And they’re nothing like those horrible dried out pretzel snacks you get in the supermarkets in Australia. They’re all soft and plump, yet crispy on the outside and… Ahem.
So anyway, I sought appropriate help and since then my pretzel consumption has been scaled back to a socially appropriate level. But before I shut down the pretzel party, I decided to use the addiction to give back to the community.
You see in Munich - with a market practically saturated with salty, doughy, bready things - it can be very difficult for the discerning pretzel lover to hone in on a good bite. To help a brother out, I’ve spent the last couple of weeks reviewing pretzels in train stations all over Munich. It’s tough work, but someone’s got to do it.
I chose to base my review on four simple yet fundamental criteria: crispness; saltiness; butter-quality; and overall composition. Allow me to share my findings with you here.
But first, a little historical note on the Pretzel
The pretzel, along with beer, sausages, and luxury cars, is one of Germany’s gifts to the civilised world.
There is some dispute over the origins of the pretzel, although many claim it was invented by German monks in 7th Century as a reward for children who learned their prayers. Whether or not it was the same monks who decided it was a good idea to drink strong beer as a calorie-substitute during Lent is unclear.
Especially popular in Bavaria, where they are known to the abbreviation-loving locals as “Bretz’n”, the pretzel is available in many varieties: the traditional Butter Bretz’n, the seed or nut Bretz’n, and of course the less-traditional chocolate Bretz’n.
The Bagel Bretz’n
Crispiness: Ok, the “Bagel shape” may be unorthodox, but it pushes the soft-crispy ratio in the favour of “soft”. If you’re like me, and feel a bit cheesed off with the thin and crispy inner arms of a standard pretzel, then this is the pretzel for you
Saltiness: Not too salty - although, full disclosure here: I don’t really believe there is such a thing as too salty when it comes to pretzels
Butter quality: So there was a strange thing about the butter with this one. It wasn’t spread like normal, but rather deposited in a series of “butter dots” inside the pretzel. It gave a bit of a pre-packaged feel, and also I could see parts of the pretzel’s surface which were NOT covered in butter. No one wants to see that.
Overall composition: If you like the look of a bagel then buy a bagel. If you like the look of a pretzel, well.. you get my point.
The Pocket Rocket Bretz’n
Crispiness: I would describe this pretzel as al dente. If you like to feel a bit of a crunch when you bite into a pretzel, then this could be the one for you
Saltiness: Very lightly salted. Good for people who don’t like to feel dehydrated after one bite
Butter quality: In terms of butter quality, this one was the winner. It was really creamy, and spread liberally (by hand! which apparently you can’t take for granted these days)
Overall composition: Aesthetically, this pretzel was very easy on the eye. I actually considered calling it the Sexy Bretz’n. It also had that really “pretzelly” taste on the outside. You know what I mean ;)
The “Sensitive New Age Guy” Bretz’n
Crispiness: If the Hopfisterei Bretz’n is al dente, then this pretzel is bleu. It’s soft and doughy, and just wants to snuggle up with you on the couch
Saltiness: The salt is on the bottom with this one. Unusual...
Butter quality: Really liberal on the butter. So the "Sensitive New Age Guy Bretz’n" is rich too. What’s not to love?
Overall composition: This a big fat buttery pretzel. Don’t go into it expecting anything more.
The Size Matters Bretz’n
Crispiness: This pretzel was strong and firm. Exactly as you would expect.
Saltiness: Although size matters for this pretzel in general, where saltiness is concerned it believes less is more
Butter quality: Just to mix things up, you will actually find cream cheese and chives inside this pretzel. A nice surprise, as far as I’m concerned.
Overall composition: Boasting a 6.5” diameter, this pretzel is not shying away from anything. It’s the sort of huge ass pretzel you expect to see (and consume entirely on your own) at beer festivals. Although apparently also available as a hearty railway snack at the Rischart Hauptbanhof.
The Pizza Bretz’n
Crispiness: There’s crispy, and then there’s just downright tough. Unfortunately this pretzel had set up shop in the latter camp.
Saltiness: The taste was not so much salty as strong and herby. And not really in a good way.
Butter quality: There was no butter in this one, which is probably the first good thing I could say about it. There was already enough going on without it.
Overall composition: This is a bit of a mixed-race Frankenpretzel. It didn’t really taste like a pretzel, but it didn’t really taste like pizza. And I couldn’t recommend it if you felt like either.
What about you? Have you ever tried one of these pretzels? What is your favourite pretzel?