Bucket-List Beercation – German Style!
Greetings Beer & Travel Lovers!
Visiting 1,000 year-old breweries isn’t something most Americans do often. So if you love travel and you love beer, you might be interested in reading about our Bucket-List Beercation – German Style!
What is a Bucket-List Beercation? To us it’s about enjoying the ultimate beer-lover experience by visiting the oldest breweries Germany (and the world!) has to offer, sampling the best beers in Bavaria, and digging into the German craft beer scene. It’s also about experiencing enough cultural/scenic activities to satisfy partners who may not share the same passion for beer. It’s not easy to put together, but we think we do a pretty good job at it... and so do our customers!
In this article we’ll walk you through the ultimate Bucket-List Beercation – German Style!
"We’ve taken plenty of “beer-cations” over the years (mostly self-led), but this was by far the best!”
Jack & Michele P., Colorado Springs, CO
Dinner at Augustiner-Keller - The 3rd largest beer garden in Munich (5,000 seats)
DAY 1: The World’s Oldest Brewery & Munich Historical Walking Tour!
Our adventures get off to a fast start with a tour of the World’s Oldest Brewery – Bayerische Staatsbrauerei Weihenstephan (the Weihenstephan Bavarian State Brewery). The Weihenstephan monastery was founded by St. Korbinian in the year 725 on Nährberg hill overlooking what is now the town of Freising. It’s assumed brewing started about the same time, but in 1040 the brewery was granted an official license from the city of Freising to brew and sell their beer.
Lucky for us, several Weihenstephaner beers are available here in the U.S., but if you want to taste it fresh, you need to visit the brewery in Freising!
Beer tasting after the tour, and aging tanks on-tour
Beer makes people do "interesting" things, and lunch in the beer garden
"Original Gravity Tours' Munich & Bamberg Brewery Tour was a dream come true for this home-brewer and beer lover!”
Frank R., San Juan Bautista, CA
We wrap up the afternoon with a historical walking tour of Munich followed by dinner in one of our favorite historic brewery restaurants. Munich was officially founded in the year 1158, however the first human settlements date back to around 100BC. With this kind of history, there’s no shortage of sites to explore and stories to hear.
Outside the Hofbräuhaus München, and the Viktualienmarkt farmers market and beer garden
Historical walking tour on the Platzl, and outside the Theatinerkirche (church)
DAY 2: Brewery on the “Holy Mountain” and Alpine Craft Brewing!
A very scenic and flavorful day is in store for the second day of our tour as we head south into the Bavarian Alps. Our first stop is the town of Andechs where the Kloster Andechs Monastery & Brewery is located at the top of “The Holy Mountain”. Benedictine monks founded the monastery and started brewing back in 1455, and when sipping a beer with a view of the Alps and surrounding hills, you’ll definitely feel a little closer to heaven. It’s worth noting that the beer here is pumped directly from bottling tanks to the taps in the Bräustüberl and then into your glass. Hard to get any fresher than that!
Kloster Andechs beer garden/terrace, and view from terrace
What one wise local has to say about Kloster Andechs!
"This tour surpassed our highest expectations!
Tom & Debbie F., Pensacola, FL
After that nice warm-up at Kloster Andechs we continue our journey south to the town of Bad Tölz. With a modern day population of about 19,000, Bad Tölz has a brewing tradition dating back to the 15th century. Once it was home to more than 20 breweries that were all connected by underground tunnels that led down to the Isar River. Today, there’s just one remaining – Tölzer Mühlfeldbräu – a craft brewery that was built in 2008 on the foundation of the old Grüner Bräu brewery (founded in 1709). We’ll take an intimate tour of Tölzer Mühlfeldbräu followed by a tasting of their extensive craft beer line-up. Non-beer drinkers have the option to take a stroll through the historic town center instead.
Bad Tölz "skyline" from the banks of the Isar River, and open air fermentation tanks on tour
300 year-old lagering cellar, and the Tölzer Mühlfeldbräu tasting line-up
DAY 3: Hallertau Hop Heaven, Bavaria’s Oldest Wheat Beer Brewery, Danube River Ferry & The Oldest Monastery Brewery in the World!
A very full day awaits us and our first stop is at Hopfenhimmel (Hop Heaven) in the Hallertau hop-growing region north of Munich. Hallertau is the largest hop-growing region in the world and if you’re a homebrewer, you’ve likely brewed with Hallertau hops at some point.
The Hopfenhimmel is a platform that sits about 30 feet high and above the surrounding hop fields. It provides a spectacular view of the area.
"Stairway to Heaven"!
View from the top
We then continue our way north to the Oldest Wheat Beer Brewery in Bavaria, the Schneider Weisse Brewery in Kelheim.
The Schneider Weisse brewery was built by Duke Maximilian I in 1607 when he decided to expand production and brew wheat beer for sale to the general public. Then in 1872, Georg Schneider purchased a license to be the first private brewer of wheat beer along with a brewery located at site of the Schneider Bräuhaus in central Munich. After outgrowing that space, Georg Schneider IV purchased the brewery in Kelheim in 1928 and his family has been brewing here ever since with Georg Schneider VI at the helm today.
Note: If you think you don’t like wheat beer, wait until you try Schneider Weisse, especially the “holy grail” of their line up, Aventinus (Tap 6). Aventinus is a wheat doppelbock and we have yet to meet a customer who doesn’t immediately fall in love with it’s smooth, deep flavor!
Schneider Original and Aventinus, and two new Aventinus lovers
Guided tasting at Schneider Weisse, and the "hard stuff", Aventinus Eisbock, ABV 12%
"Best trip ever. Tasted 73 different German beers over the course of the trip, many of which could only be sampled on a trip like this...”
Bob & Lori D., Wamego, KS 2019
Next, we jump on a ferry that takes us up the Danube River to the Oldest Monastery Brewery in the World – Weltenburger Kloster. The monastery dates back to the year 617 and the first record of brewing was in 1050. In addition to brewing exceptional beers, the monastery and brewery are beautifully situated on the banks of the Danube River. For an eye-popping experience, walk into the beautiful Church of St. Georg. This baroque style church was built in 1739 by the Asam brothers, and in gratitude, the monks named one of their beers, Asam Bock (a rich doppelbock) after the brothers.
Approaching Kloster Andechs by ferry, and enjoying a hearty Asam Bock
Chillin' in the Weltenburger Kloster beer garden
DAY 4: Bamberg Historical Walking Tour & Weyermann Malts Plant Tour!
The Franconia region is located in northern-most Bavaria, bordering the Czech Republic to the east. Franconia is actually broken into three “sub-regions” called Upper Franconia, Middle Franconia and Lower Franconia. Upper Franconia is where we spend our time because it has more breweries per capita than anywhere in the world!
In particular, we spend a few days in and around the city of Bamberg. Bamberg is even older than Munich having been founded in the year 1012. Bamberg was the capital city of all of Franconia when the region was an independent German state prior to the Second World War. During the war, Allied bombing thankfully spared the town and today it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Bamberg is also home to the most famous smoked beer (Rauchbier) in the world, Schlenkerla, brewed by Brauerei Heller-Trum (founded 1405). Not everyone warms up to smoked beer immediately, so we recommend following the advice of locals. They say that when trying smoked beer for the first time, you should drink at least 3 beers and then you’ll fall in love with it forever. Sounds like a good strategy to us, no?
The Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall) in Bamberg
The Schlenkerla taproom & restaurant (inside & out) in central Bamberg
Old town Bamberg at dusk, and lunch in the Mahrs Bräu beer garden
"Gene is perhaps the best tour guide I have ever met. He knows Munich and Bamberg inside out and will introduce you to the best beers these cities have to offer.”
Jonathan R., Huntsville, AL
After a relaxing lunch over a few beers, we make our way to the Weyermann Malts plant (founded 1879) for a tour of their production facilities. If you’re a homebrewer, you’ve probably used one or more of their malts in your brewing activities. And it’s pretty interesting to see how they source and test the raw grain, convert it into malt, and distribute the finished product worldwide.
Weyermann delivery truck, and on tour
Tasting in the Weyermann taproom, and post-tour
DAY 5: Bamberg Countryside Village Beer Tour!
As mentioned above, Upper Franconia has more breweries per capita than anywhere in the world with more than 200 breweries for a population of about one million. For comparison, Delaware has about the same population but has just 27 breweries at last count.
Most of the breweries in Upper Franconia are small, family run operations that have been around for 300 years or more and are located in small villages outside of Bamberg. With this many breweries it’s hard to decide which to visit on each tour, but here are a few of our favorites. The specialty of most of these breweries (and the region) is Kellerbier, also sometimes called “Ungespundet”, which is a delicious unfiltered lager.
Dating back to the year 1478, Brauerei Hönig is a small, family brewery in Tiefenellern run by Peter Hönig who is also the braumeister. One thing that’s really cool about visiting these breweries, besides the beer, is that the owners are usually pouring the beer, very friendly and happy to talk to you to the extent their command of English allows.
Peter Hönig, owner and braumeister at Brauerei Hönig
View from the Brauerei Hönig beer garden
Dating back to the year 1554, Brauerei Neder is a small brewery in Forchheim that also brews an excellent Kellerbier. You might wonder why their logo contains a ship since they’re located in the middle of Germany? It’s because the boats that used to cruise up and down the Regnitz River delivering supplies had a regular stop at Forchheim. and stopping for a cold Nederbräu was a regular occurrence.
Nice cold Nederbräu kellerbier
Brauerei Grasser dates back to 1516 and is located in the town of Huppendorf. They distribute their beer into Bamberg, so if you come across a “Huppendorfer” tap handle, ask the server for a “Hoopy”. They’ll know exactly what you’re talking about!
Prost from Brauerei Grasser!
Griess Keller is a beautiful beer garden located in Strullendorf. It’s part of Brauerei Griess, run by the Griess family since 1872, and today, Peter Griess is the third generation owner and braumeister.
The "taproom" is open at Griess Keller!
Protected from rain in the Griess Keller beer garden
Last but not least is Brauerei Hölzlein. All of the breweries you’ll find in Upper Franconia are excellent, but Brauerei Hölzlein in Lohndorf is probably our favorite. Founded in 1781, Heinrich Hölzlein and his son are 7th and 8th generation owners/braumeisters and are super friendly! They make the best Kellerbier we’ve ever tasted and it wasn’t “the beer talking”... or maybe it was?
Heinrich (right) and his son are always happy to talk beer
What one smart couple has to say about Brauerei Hölzlein!
“I am an avid homebrewer and although my wife is not a beer drinker, she is a beer culture enthusiast, and this tour was just a phenomenal fit for both of us.”
Mark & Kris M., Lake Saint Louis, MO
AHA Member Discount!
AHA members always get a substantial discount on our tours. If you’re an AHA member, Contact Us with us your AHA Membership number, and we’ll send you a special link that allows you to take advantage of this discount.
Original Gravity Tours
We hope this article inspires you to look for your Bucket-List Beercation, be it in Germany or elsewhere. We also hope you consider joining one of our Munich & Bamberg Brewery Tours next summer. For a virtual tour, pop open your favorite German beer and check out our Photos, Videos & Reviews page!
We tour the oldest breweries in the world, meet local craft brewers, enjoy the finest beer gardens, follow the Franconian breweries trail, explore the 1,000 year-old cities of Munich & Bamberg, ferry the Danube River, and more!
11/19/2019 08:42:04 am
10/20/2022 01:35:21 am
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Greetings! I'm a passionate beer and international travel lover. Other than craft beer, I mostly go for German & Belgian beers and if you share the same interests, you may enjoy my blog. Prost!