Hallertau Region of Germany

July 24 – August 2, 2013

Our Travels for Beer bring us to the Hallertau Area of Germany.  Hallertau has been a prosperous hop producing area since the 9th century. Bill Boli and Nina will travel over 225 miles on bicycle looking for hop fields, learning the history of the area to enjoy the people, the food, and tasting new beers. Our trip begins in Munich. If you visit Munich here are a few things to know…a mass beer is a liter, helles beer has the lightest taste, dunkel is dark, weisse is wheat, hefe is yeast, and doppelbock is strong and seasonal.  Do not sit at a table with a “Stammtisch” sign over it, or on it, or even near it!  It’s reserved for Regulars You can only sit there if invited…so, get invited, then raise a liter and toast with “PROST”!







We rented a bike for a day and attempted to visit the “Big Six” breweries of Munich.  These breweries have long histories and dominate the brewing here.  Our first stop was the beautiful Paulaner brewery, founded in 1634, across the Isar River sitting on a hill named Nockherberg. There are hundreds of seats and terrific food so we decide to have an early lunch. Dunkel and weissse beers for us. Then it’s across the Isar to Lowenbrau located near the city center. There is a huge bier hall and biergarten. Lowenbrau was founded in 1383. A couple of years ago they merged with Spaten and brews the famous Franziskaner here.  Next we stopped at the historic Altes Hackerbrauhaus, to taste the Hacker-Pschorr, which was founded in 1417.  Skip the helles and order a weisse or pilsner. Next up was the famous Hobrauhaus which started in 1589 and seats over 1000 people.  The band is always playing, the beers are big and the pretzels are even bigger! We made it to 4 of the 6 big brewers, but a flat tire slowed us down.  We didn’t make it to the oldest, Augustiner founded in 1328, which has a beautiful brauhaus on the Marienplatz, and we also missed Spaten.
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When we got the flat tire, luckily for us we found ourselves just a short distance away from the first new brewery in Munich to open in 100 years, the Giesinger Brauerei. It is operating from a small garage in a backyard now, but is soon to move to a larger facility.  As we walked into the area, we were excited to meet them, and most of the workers were happy to talk with us “from America”.  However, someone in charge said we were too loud and we must leave “now”. So we left with two bottles of their unfiltered lager, and a flat tire. No help for us here.  Two major brewers of the area also have pubs in Munich.  Both Schneider & Sons and Ayinger are favorites of ours, so once we got the flat tire repaired, we got back on the bikes to visit both.  Weisses Brauhaus is located on Tal Street and is the original brewing location for Schneider & Sons which is now based in Kelheim.  They are famous for their Original Weisse and the Aventinus Weizenbock, which are both classics in their categories.  Across the street from Hofbrauhaus is Wirtshaus Ayinger. Sitting on the bar was a wooden keg filled with a  Zwickel beer, an unfiltered unpasteurized lager which is served fresh just when fermentation has peaked.  It is different than Keller beer which has matured over a period of time. It was smooth, creamy and delicious and a great way to end the day.  7 stops today…a good day’s work. Now, gelato anyone?

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<palign=”center”>On Saturday we took a train to Regensburg where we were to start our 6 day bike trip.  A short distance from our hotel was Kneitinger Brauerei founded in 1539, serving a full food menu and beer.  A neat little server’s technique we noticed was they carry the beers to the tables in a metal rack which elimates spillage. A slogan on the beer glass reads “Nur echt mit dem Bock” which translates somewhat to “Get real with the Goat”. All the beer styles tasted very well along with the food. I also liked the seating choices; quick service at a stand up barrel, a bright sun lit table area, or a more formal dining area with booth and dark wood.
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Our first day on the bike tour was in record heat for the area, almost 100 degrees. Our destination was Straubing, only 45K away, but that was asking a lot.  We needed to stop twice, not for water, but for beer. The first place, Gasthoff Schiff, was very small and a lucky find on this Sunday morning. The owner, Josef, loved to practice his English with his rare visitors from Florida. Two quick refreshing Helles beers from Brauerei Schierling went down easy. Our second stop looked like someone’s backyard with a party going on, and we rode up to the fence and asked for a beer. They pulled two chairs from the garage, set a table in the shade and brought us two beers. Helles Vollbier from  Karmeliten Kloster, a very local beer that was typical Bavarian about 4.7% and gold in color.  Kloster means Abbey, and Urtyp means original. Tasted great to these thirsty bike riders! They were super friendly and even let us charge our phones…prost!


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Our second day was a ride of 75K to Landau.  However that does not include any distance for getting lost.  It’s hot again. We stopped for lunch in Degendorf, and were quickly greeted with two shots of Ouzo! Why, I don’t know, but of course we thanked them and tossed them down. The beers served were from Kloster Weltenburg an abbey which has been brewing since 1050.  The dunkel and the weisse were delicious, and the food was great. With the check came two more shots…holy bike rider… let’s get out of here. The ride varies from street to trail.  Near the end we stopped on the trail to check a map. We were greeted by an elderly gentleman who spoke no English.  I pointed to the map and showed him the name of our hotel, and he indicated to us he knew a better route to take.  Not to insult him we decided to go his way and proceeded to follow him.  We followed him uphill for 3 continuous miles.  He was incredible, being at least 75 years old and climbing these hills.  He frequently looked back over his shoulder for us. I yelled to him “where is Landau?” and he waved his arm and pointed his finger ahead.  I was lucky to get a picture from behind this guy.  When we arrived at the hotel Nina and I were exhausted and breathing heavily. Our friend just waved to us and rode away.  Auf Wiedersehen!


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Only 45K were planned for the third day while heading for Landschut.  Hot again, but a chance of rain.  Our lunch stop is in Dingolfing with a local Zwickl beer from Wasserburger Brauerei and a wurst salad. A wurst salad is julienned pork served over greens and topped with raw onions and vinegar.  It tastes great with beer, the two really go well together. We make it to our hotel, which to our dismay is about 4K outside the center of town.  Although we are hungry and thirsty, we’re told the kitchen is closed! But, we can get a beer. The receptionist at Landshuter Hof, Angela, our new German friend cheerfully gave us five-star service even though her family owned restaurant and biergarten were “geschlossen”, closed for the day.  She set us a table, got us some Landschut beers from Wittman Brauerei, ordered us some take out food, and sat with us for four hours!  It was the best time on the trip and we never left the hotel. We were told we had just missed a local festival, Hochzeit, that celebrates the founding of the city 500 years ago.  The townspeople audition for acting roles in the celebration.  We got to meet the acting Prince! Landschut Brauhaus brews the Hochzeit celebration beers.  We were able to taste the fest bier which was malty and flavorful. Landschut deserves another visit for the next festival in two years. Thanks Angela for the warm hospitality.


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The fourth day was another short ride to Freising.  Only 45K but it’s hot and hilly. Freising is home to the oldest brewery in the world, Weihenstephan, since 1040, and a Brewing University.  The brewery sits on a beautiful location on a hill overlooking the area below where hops and malt are grown. We sell a lot of their beer at Stuff Yer Face, which enabled us to get a reservation in the Brau-stuberl.  By chance the Director of Weihenstephan, Dr. Josef Schradler was there eating.  He took some time to meet with us.  We discussed with him the brewing collaboration with Jim Koch of Samuel Adams and the beer named Infinium.  He was proud of it’s popularity and surprised us with a bottle to take home. Thank you! Infinium is light and sparkling like champagne. It’s a new beer style developed by the two brewers, brewed and fermented using champagne techniques. He told us that the German version was better than the American version…so we will see.


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Our fifth day is a long one, 75K to Abensburg. We hope to see some hop fields today in this the center of Hallertau. We weren’t disappointed.  From a hilltop we could see lots of fields ahead of us, each symetrical in layout and the hop vines growing high towards the sky. This entire area is involved with hops and honor the traditions of growing and harvest.  We found a city fountain with a statue featuring the hop harvest and a building wall painted with hop farming scenes and words asking for God’s blessing on the malt and the hops. We feel lucky today.  The hops were a couple of weeks yet from harvest but we could smell the pungent hops in the air. Our hotel in Abensburg was located on the townsquare directly across from the Brauerei Gasthof Kuchlbauer. They brew some fantastic weisse beer…how convenient for us!


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Our sixth and last day from Abensburg to Regensburg is another 75k day! What were we thinking? With distances this long, there is not enough time for sight seeing and tasting the local beers. However, we must forge ahead.  Today we took a detour to Wolnzach and the Deutsches Hopfen Museum.  We left the bikes at the train station and rode two trains and a taxi ride to get there, but it was worth it. The museum displayed some great black and white photos featuring the hops trade, and books detailing the science and business of hops dating back several hundred years.  I even had a chance to help out the hop pickers!  Many hours later as we rode into Regensburg, we parked the bikes at Regensburger Weissbrauhaus, near the grand  cathedral of St. Peter.  This was a handsome place with a lot of shiney copper and good beer. It was a long ride and we were glad it was finished. 

We were also glad to go from bike saddle to bar stool and celebrate our ride. 


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The morning after, we rented a car and drove to Kloster Weltenburg which has been brewing beer on the Danube since 1050.  We thought we would have one and go, but it was a beautiful day, we just completed our bike trip, and it is a perfect setting. Our GPS led us to the wrong side of the river, but a small ferry runs across the river to the Abbey.  3 Euros and your in.  One and go didn’t work this time.  We stayed for lunch and ate and drank while the church bells rang for thirty minutes at noon.  The dunkel and Asam Bock are terrific beers. We’ll be adding these great beers to the Stuff Yer Face menu.







Two Lost Cyclists in Germany

Bill Boli

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