Since this was a Beer theme river cruise on our first full day in Munich I had arranged for a private tour for my group to get us outside of the city to visit some breweries that most tourists might not find or have a way to get to.
Our guide picked us up at our hotel for our day out in the Bavarian countryside. On the drive to our first brewery tour we passed many hops fields that had already been harvested but it was an interesting site to see all the rows of tall poles that the hops vine up on. Germany grows about 60% of the hops out of the14 EU countries producing hops covering approximately 17 hectares, equivalent to a little more that 42,000 acres…..that’s a lot of hops! We had an appointment for a tour at Kuchlbauer Brewery. Even if you don’t have an interest in beer this is worth a visit.
It is a most unusual brewery with elements of art throughout and is very recognizable by the 70 meter tower which reaches into the sky in the village of Abensberg. The tower and brewery are full of uneven floors, tile mosaics, onion domes and even some beer dwarfs.....yes beer dwarfs! The tower is dedicated to Bavarian beer and it’s brewers and symbolizes all the components of beer and brewing in Bavaria. We climbed inside to the top of the tour and had some great views of the Bavarian countryside. Once our tour was complete…..after a beer tasting of course we traveled on to the next stop for a quick lunch prior to our next tour appointment. Our second appointment of the day was at the Schneider Weisse Brewery in Kelheim. We were fortunate that we were visiting on a Thursday as they only do tours twice a week….jackpot for us! This brewery is very well known for its history of brewing wheat beer and actually saving wheat beer from extinction. Two hundred years ago wheat beer was only allowed to be brewed by Bavarian royal families.
With the decline in wheat beer sales King Ludwig II decided to discontinue brewing wheat beer and sold the brewing rights to the Schneider family who continued the brewing of this very popular wheat brew, thus saving wheat beer from extinction! We drove on to the Weltenburger Kloster, a monastery brewery, which sits along a very scenic area of the Danube. This section is too narrow for the river cruise ships to get through but you can take a short day cruise through this section which passes the Weltenburger Kloster.
We visited the St. George Abbey Church which is built in the baroque style with St. George at the front of the alter slaying a dragon. The ceiling in this church is also very beautifully painted and fooled the eye as it appeared to be curved but was actually flat. We then went to try a beer brewed at the monastery. This is the oldest monastery in Bavaria and has been brewing beer since 1035! There are still 7 monks living at the monastery that are continuing the brewing according to the Bavarian Purity Law of 1516.
Time to head back to Munich, another full day and I think the beer connoisseurs of the group were thoroughly pleased with all they saw, learned and tasted today.