Germany

Kelheim, Germany 10/06-10/09

We flew from Stockholm to Munich and then rode a train to Kelheim. It’s a small city with a grand history located near Regensburg, and surrounded by hops fields!  It is situated at a most scenic section of the Danube River, which is the narrowest and steepest, with 400 foot high cliffs carved of limestone.  The Liberation Hall, built by King Ludwig, sits high above the city to commemorate the defeat of Napolean in 1815.  On a clear day you can see the entire region from this glorious monument.

There are two beer reasons to be here. The famous Schneider & Sons wheat brewery and Weltenburger Kloster.  Weltenburger is the oldest Abbey brewery in the world operating since 1050! A definite highlight for the visit is the 40 minute tour boat ride up the Danube River to visit the Kloster.  You can skip the tour boat ride back to Kelheim and ask a local to ferry you across the river in his little skiff.  The walk back to town takes about an hour and you can enjoy the serenity of the Gorge, pick an apple off a tree, or soak your feet in the river.  On a beautiful day you can travel by bike, or kayak there and back!

The Baroque church is outstanding and the grounds pristine.  The brewery is within the Kloster and has an attached restaurant.  The Weltenburger Dunkel and the Asam Bock are on tap.  Both are very dark in color and absolutely delicious, the Bock has an extra zing of flavor to it.

The weather was perfect and so was the location.  Situated in the heart of the Kloster, brewery, & church, we sat in the biergarten under the chestnut trees and savoured these long-awaited dark beers. Add a pretzel and wurst salad, and the beers go down too quick and easy. . .

oh, and watch out for falling chestnuts!

George Schneider bought his brewing rights from King Ludwig in 1875 and soon began brewing in Munich.  Since 1927 Schneider & Son’s has been brewing in central Kelheim.  There is an attached pub and biergarten serving their Original Weisse style from the tap.  It pours with a sturdy white head and tastes crisp and fresh.  The abv is only 5.4% so you can refresh yourself all day.

Also available is the Aventinus Weizenbock about 8.2% abv with a dark mahogany color. We were disappointed that this was available only in the bottle, but figured it would be difficult to store and serve from the keg.  A third and more rare offering was the Aventinus Eisbock…coming in at 12% which was a step up in depth of flavors and darker in color. Time to be careful, tomorrow is a travel day!

Herrsching, Germany 10/15- 10/19

Herrshing is a small lakeside village located about 40 miles southwest of Munich.  From here we were surrounded with an incredible view of the Alps protruding in the South. The village is set alongside Lake Ammersee which is about 10 miles long and three miles wide. You can conveniently get to Munich via the S-bahn train in about 45 minutes. Boating and swimming fanatics pack this place in the warmer weather. For now, it’s just brisk enough for a good 5k hike to the hilltop . . . 

Besides the panaoramic views, Kloster Andechs beer is a perfect reason for coming here.  They have been brewing for almost 500 years. This Abbey sits high above the city on “The Holy Mountain” located three miles from the village. To get there, you can take a local bus for about $3 and ten minutes, or hike one of the scenic wooded trails which may take you two hours.  Either way, we think you will be very happy you came.

There are several rooms and patios to eat and drink, both inside and outside.  Outside the views of the surrounding countryside are fantastic.  Inside is a great example of a German beer hall.

The food here is traditional Bavarian served in very generous, delicious, portions and not that expensive.  The beer buddy pretzel is available in two sizes.  Get the big one…you’ll love it. Both hot and cold dishes are available and it reminded me of ordering in a cafeteria.  You can select from dried sausages, various wurst, potatoe salad, cheeses, sauerkraut, leberkase (meatloaf) and the local favorite Haxenbrust, which is a roasted pig knuckle.

You can also get all the sweet-tooth satisfaction and energy to get back down the hill.  They serve five different schnaaps, donuts, sweet icing pretzels, cakes, pies, and Bavarian apfel strudel. Of course, they all pair well with the bock beer!  You can have coffee at home.

The beer comes from the tap of a wooden barrel! Come on, how fantastic is that?  You can select from a helles, which is a light gold color, a weisse, or a dark dunkel.  Small, requested as “klein” is a half liter and the mass is a full liter.  The beer is cheap, and for me the quality rates way up high in the charts.

Meanwhile, Nina found a new job here working the tap. (She’s experienced; she was back there our first visit in 2003!)

With thousands of seats in different areas, on warmer days and nights this place fills up and the band plays to get the festivities going.  On this mountain everyone is encouraged to take their eating and drinking pretty seriously.  I found this sink in the restroom.  It’s a place where cleanup and recovery can take place in a respectable way.

Now get back out there!

We took a day trip to Weihenstephan Brewery in Freising, Germany.  Weihenstephan is the oldest brewery in the world, since 1040.  Freising is located about 40 minutes north of Munich. The Reinheitsgebot Law of 1516 was proclaimed closeby to here. It states the German Beer Purity Laws for brewing beer.  Water, hops, malted barley and yeast. That’s it. Nothing else added to the brew.   It’s still the law.  They take it very seriously here.

This summer we featured Weihenstephan dark wheat beer on draft at Stuff Yer Face.  It’s a delicious chestnut colored beer with hints of banana and in Nina’s opinion it reminds her of the Bazooka bubble gum smell.

On the brewery property there is a University where beer and brewing is studied.  You can even earn your Ph.D. studying here!

We were given a tour of the brewing facility by a recent graduate, and doctorate student of the brewing school. During the tour we looked into the brewing kettle and saw this scene.  The wort is being mixed with the hops. This volcanic action is known as “stromboli”. Our brewing graduate guide asked us if we were familiar with stromboli and knew that stromboli was the name of a volcano in Italy.  Hellllloooo!  Yes!

[Later in our trip we found out that Franz Inselkammer of Ayinger Brewing also attended the Brewers University here at Weihenstephan.]

The attached brau-stuberl, or pub, serves most of the brews on tap with great food, a biergarten and also with fine dining.

After our tour we were thirsty and ready to get to work.  We ordered our first round, got a pretzel, ordered lunch and settled in for a short afternoon.

We sampled many and I can not get over the freshness and livelyness of the beers.  I enjoy these beers at home, but being here in this place, it’s at a whole ‘nuther level that just has a different dimension.

Last time we were here, our favorite was the Korbinian doppelbock, dark brown, sweet malt flavors and 7% alochol.  This time? Vitus! A weizenbock, gold in color, hazy, about 7% in fantastic glassware. It is Suupa delicious!

Aying, Germany 10/21-10/24

Aying is the quintessential Bavarian village located just 40 miles southeast of Munich.  It is easily reached using the S-Bahn.  There are only 1600 permanent residents. They are all lucky to have Ayinger Brauerei as part of their town. Ayinger is a three generation small brewery that continues to win awards for it’s beers. Within walking distance to the brewery is a highly rated hotel and restaurant.  This is our second visit to Aying.  We just knew that this would be the perfect place to stay, unwind, settle in, and ultimately end our two-month, eight-country,Travels for Beer journey.

We were right!

Across the street from the Gasthof is Liebhard’s Braustuberl. Named after the original founder and brewer in 1876,  it’s very comfortable with a biergarten outside and plenty of room inside.  Ayinger beers are on tap and in bottles along with plenty of food choices.  We will be spending plenty of time here.

Two of our favorites were beers that are not available to us at home.  A natural Kellerbier which is unfiltered and slightly hazy.  It’s not high in alcohol so this is fantastic any day.  The second was Kirta-Halbe a seasonal brew for Ayinger, 4.5%. This beer is made annually in celebration of a Church Feast. The third Sunday of every October in Bavaria, a predominantly Catholic region, celebrates with a traditional cooked goose and all the regional trimmings.  The marketing poster for this beer shows a chef running out of the Ayinger House, cleaver held high, chasing down the famous path after this goose holding his beer!

The beer is made in small batches and ideally will last throughout all of October.  However, as they said, once it’s gone, it’s gone! Nina made sure to have her fair portion, just in case.

The village of Aying has plenty of places for an afternoon walk.  Besides the grounds of the hotel and brewery there is still plenty of farming in this area.  You can literally get into nature. During our walk Nina ditched off into a corn field twice her height.

On our way back from this walk, the corn field was completely gone! The farmers had come and cleared the crop.  It is after all Harvest Time, a sunny brisk day and excellent for getting important things done.

As for us, we worked up our thirst and hunger.  We were ready to head back to Liebhard’s for a lunch and a seasonal beer.

When we arrived, we saw a local we met earlier.  Gretchen works for Ayinger exporting their delicious brews.  She  invited us to join her.  And, what a surprise this afternoon became.  She was hosting a group of North American beer distributors for the weekend and they arrived just after us. The Inselkammer Family came to greet them, Franz,  wife Angela, and their son Franz Junior.  It was a special and unique experience to be included with the distributors.

Eventually, Nina and I were sitting on our own, and not to my surprise, when I returned from the men’s room Franz Inselkammer, the Patriarch and 75 year old owner of Ayinger Brewing, was sitting with Nina and chatting.  We enjoyed his company, stories and discussing the past and future of the beer business, along with some of his personal history.  He has met some famous international people such as Vladmir Putin and

prised we had visited Weihenstephan, his alma mater.  What a nice gentleman and a pleasant afternoon.  A perfect grand finale to our multi-country Travels for Beer adventure.

he was also so excited to have met the German soccor superstar. He told us about his family, the war as a child, and learning to brew beer.  He was sur

Our trip of a life-time has come to a close.  Sitting at home now the last seven weeks seemed to have passed in a blink of an eye.  We’re certain that as we go back and review our photos, journal, postcards, and train tickets we’ll be surprised at the many wonderful things we already forgot in the blurr of it all.  We are so fortunate.  We’re fortunate to have had the time and ability to make the journey and most grateful to have met some pretty fantastic people along the way.

Thinking back on our favorite beers, champagnes, meals, historical sites, and sceneries it is hard to select favorites.  We realized after unpacking nearly two dozen souvenier glasses, and only having one broken, that that is just tooo many to consider any one of them “a” favorite. But, looking back we’ll never forget how delicious the Orval tasted at the source, and how impressive it was that all thirty people in a restaurant were drinking it.  Which goes with the memory of the macaroni cheese made with Orval cheese…enjoyed 3 times in 2 days! The freshness and the simplicity of the German beers are hard to beat.  Ayinger, Weltenburg, Andechs, and Weihenstephan…yummmy. In Norway we’ll always remember the reindeer stew with a berry puree, similar to a raspberry.  Awesome match. Looking forward to stocking new beers at Stuff Yer Face…Mikkeller of Denmark and Haandbrygeriet of Norway.

As we sat near the Munich airport on our final evening we still managed to find two more beers we have never had, and a meal that sent Nina’s sensory nerves into blissful joy.  We also found a must visit brewery/hotel we did not know about. I guess that settles it… the origins and inspiration for our nextTravels for Beer!

We hope you are inspired to enjoy a new beer, pair it with a new food, explore another culture and enjoy your own adventures.  See you at Stuff Yer Face and keep your eyes open for some new beers listed on our menu.

 

Get stuffed and stay thirsty!

Bill Boli and Nina

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