Greetings Beer & Travel Lovers!
Last month we introduced An American Woman in Deutschland. This month we look ahead to the granddaddy of all Oktoberfests and offer a few tips for surviving a night in the tents.
Oktoberfest Munich 2017
It’s only June, so why are we talking about Oktoberfest already? Because if you’re going, it’s time to start thinking about your trip as you’ll be visiting Munich at the same time 6 – 7 million other people make their way to the Theresienwiese to celebrate Oktoberfest!
History: Oktoberfest dates back to October 1810 when Crown Prince Ludwig married Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen at the site of today’s event. The citizens of Munich were invited to attend the festivities held on the fields in front of the old city gates, and were entertained with horse racing, food, beer, and wine. The celebration was so successful that Ludwig decided to make it into an annual event.
Today, Oktoberfest traditionally starts on the third Saturday of September and ends on or shortly after the first Sunday of October. The Oktoberfest grounds, called Theresienwiese, or "Theresa's Meadow" gets its name from the Princess, but today most locals simply refer to it as the Wiesn (“vee-zin”).
Imagine being in a tent with thousands of other people, each feeling absolutely no pain, who are standing on their benches with their Maß in the air singing “Take Me Home Country Road” along with the “oompah” band. It’s impossible to not have a crazy fun time... it’s also pretty easy to have too good of a time!
For those of you who may be interested, Oktoberfest attracts its fair share of celebrities. Past years’ attendees include Katy Perry, Richard Branson, Usain Bolt, Samuel L. Jackson, Paris Hilton, assorted Kardashians, and a regular favorite, Arnold Schwarzenegger. In case you’re hoping to catch a glimpse, they tend to hang out in the Hippodrome and Winzerer Fähndl tents.
Speaking of California’s former “Governator”, Arnie knows how to have a good time. Last year, the police stopped him for “weaving” his bike thru the Munich train station. According to the police, Schwarzenegger accepted the warning but explained, "that he couldn't walk well"!
It’s worth repeating that if you’re going to Oktoberfest this year, it’s important to get your plans sorted out soon, particularly if you have large group of people. Other than that, here are some tips for enjoying and surviving a day/evening at Oktoberfest.
Getting into the Tents:
Other Suggestions & Survival Tips:
Broaden Your Oktoberfest Experience
Tent Owners and Breweries Parade:
Starting at 10:45am on the first day of Oktoberfest, the tent owners and breweries conduct a parade that winds its way through Munich and into the Theresienwiese to officially kick-off the celebration. It’s free and I highly recommend it. Just find a spot along the parade route and enjoy the spectacle.
The Traditional Costume Parade:
The traditional costume parade happens on the second day, starting at 10:00am. To me this isn’t as fun as the tent owners and breweries parade, but it’s certainly worth checking out if this type of thing interests or if you’re staying near the parade route.
Original Gravity Tours
If you’re able to join one of our Munich & Bamberg Tours this summer, you may not attend Oktoberfest, but we should be able to get a taste of it at one of the many Munich beer halls and gardens. We’ll also introduce you to the the Munich “Big 6” breweries along with a few up-and-coming craft breweries.
We hope you enjoyed this blog post and as always, thank you and Prost!
Greetings Beer & Travel Lovers!
Last month we introduced a few up-and-coming Munich breweries in the Munich Craft Beer Scene. This month we continue our journey and introduce, quite likely, the only professional female American brewer in Germany, as well as her “home” brewery, Tölzer Mühlfeldbräu.
Meet Kirsten Rhein
Kirsten Rhein had a typical mid-west childhood growing up in the suburbs of Cincinnati, Ohio. However, her life after leaving home is anything but typical.
After high school Kirsten moved to Washington DC to attend George Washington University (GWU). While at GWU, she took advantage of an opportunity to study abroad at the Albert Ludwigs University in Freiberg, located in the Black Forest area of Germany. Upon returning to the U.S., she finished her studies at GWU and in 2003 graduated with degrees in International Economics, German Language Literature and French.
While in DC, Kirsten worked in a bar that is renowned for its very large beer selection and it was there she developed a serious appreciation for well-crafted beer. And since Kirsten spoke fluent German, after graduating she decided her future was back in Germany. So in 2006 she moved back over and found work in different breweries, including as an export consultant for Schneider Weisse.
Then in 2016, she met Achim Bürklin, founder of the Tölzer Mühlfeldbräu brewery in Bad Tölz, and talked her way into a job. Part of her pitch to Achim was that being an American woman who spoke fluent German, she would be unique in the German beer industry and thus able to open doors for the brewery. She was right, as she was instrumental in helping increase the brewery’s distribution throughout Germany and into the Netherlands and Czech Republic.
Kirsten then decided, because she enjoyed brewing so much, to enroll in the Master Brewer Program at the Doemens Akademie in Gräfelfing, Germany. She’ll graduate in July and, as a Master Brewer, intends to apply her knowledge at Tölzer Mühlfeldbräu focused mainly on brewing innovation and collaborative brewing.
In case you’re thinking, “that sounds like fun, I want to do that”, you should know that Kirsten spends 8 hours a day with her schooling, and another 8 hours on the job. So what she’s doing is hard, is exceptional, and is not for the average person who likes to sleep.
If that wasn’t enough, she’s worked her way up at Tölzer Mühlfeldbräu and is now the Managing Director, reporting directly to Achim. No doubt you can expect to hear a lot more about Kirsten in the years ahead!
Dating back several centuries, Bad Tölz is a typical Bavarian countryside, small town (pop. 18,000) located about 35 miles south of Munich in the foothills of the Bavarian Alps. Years ago it was home to 22 breweries, but over the years those breweries began to shut down until finally, in 2005, the last one, Grüner Brewery, closed its doors.
With that, the brewing tradition in Bad Tölz might have ended once and for all. However, shortly thereafter, Achim Bürklin, a local developer who wanted to keep that tradition alive, acquired the Grüner buildings. And in 2008 he opened a completely renovated craft brewery called Tölzer Mühlfeldbräu. Next door to that, and with the help of Claus Hühnlein and Tino Kellner, he also opened the Tölzer Gasthaus.
Both the brewery and the Gasthaus are exceptional in their own ways. The brewery is exceptional in the innovation it brings to the German brewing world, all within the constraints of the Reinheitsgebot. And the Gasthaus is exceptional in using only high-quality ingredients sourced from local and regional growers, with dishes prepared by a 5-star chef. Quality, not quantity is the guiding mantra for both.
Tölzer Mühlfeldbräu can boast having 10 lager tanks in a 500 year-old lager cellar, using traditional open tank fermentation techniques, and being one of the few craft breweries to own its brewing facilities. They brew strictly in accordance with the Reinheitsgebot under the direction of Brew Master, Sebastian Heuschneider, and today their beer is available in Berlin, Bamberg, Nuremberg, Munich, Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Hamburg, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands.
Tölzer Mühlfeldbräu currently offers three year-round beers – an unfiltered Helles, a filtered Helles, and a wheat beer. However, where things get really interesting is with their monthly specialty beers:
Wheat beer produced thru a method that involves freezing the fermented beer and removing the resulting ice (“eis”) to increase density and potency. 5.8% ABV
India Pale Ale
A stronger cousin of the Pale Ale, brewed to withstand long transport, style dates back to the British colonial days. 6.2% ABV
Tor des Monats
Starkbier (strong, dark beer) traditionally brewed for the period of Lent. 6.8% ABV
Wheat Bock beer, a stronger wheat beer brewed with additional malt, which results in a stronger, more flavorful beer. 6.7% ABV
Unfiltered Pilsner, generally more flavorful than a filtered pilsner. 4.9% ABV
Ale brewed with light or “pale” malts, lighter in flavor and alcohol than India Pale Ale. 4.8% ABV
Summer Wheat, a light wheat beer brewed for consumption in the warmer months. 4.1% ABV
Ale brewed with darker malts to produce an amber color. 5.6% ABV
Märzen, a medium colored ale typically brewed for the Oktoberfest season. 5.8% ABV
Autumn Wheat beer, a little stronger and spicier than the Summer Wheat. 5.4% ABV
Wheat beer brewed in commemoration of the annual Leonardifest event, in honor of St. Leonhard, the patron saint of farm animals. 5.6% ABV
Very strong, dark Bock Ale brewed for Christmas season. 17.6%ABV
Tölzer Mühlfeldbräu doesn’t disclose information about its annual output, but it’s safe to say they are one of the largest craft breweries in Bavaria. And Bad Tölz is only about an hour from central Munich by train or car; so if you’re ever in Munich looking for a fun, easy day-trip, think about dropping in and saying “hallo” to the folks at Tölzer Mühlfeldbräu and at Tölzer Gasthaus.
Original Gravity Tours
If you’re able to join one of our Munich & Bamberg Tours this summer, there’s a good chance we’ll introduce you to Kirsten and/or to the folks at the brewery and Gasthaus. But if that’s not possible, please keep an eye out for them here in the U.S., and please consider sharing this newsletter with your beer-lover friends.
As always, thank you and Prost!
Greetings Beer & Travel Lovers!
Last month we took a look at Day 3 of our Munich & Bamberg Tour when we visit two breweries and ferry the Danube in Kelheim, Germany. This month we head in a different direction and take a look at Munich’s emerging craft beer scene.
Déjà Vu All Over Again?
Americans tend to take our craft beers for granted. After all, the U.S. craft beer industry has been around for more than 35 years since Sierra Nevada Brewing opened its doors in 1980. Today there are said to be more than 5,000 craft breweries in the U.S.
And creativity knows few bounds in the U.S. with all sorts of ingredients being added to craft beers to produce a variety of complimentary flavors. The result is offerings such as “Coffee & Cigarettes Smoked Porter” (Cellarmaker), “Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout” (Great Divide), and “Electric Peel Grapefruit IPA” (Magic Hat).
In Germany, however, it’s a very different story. Due to the Reinheitsgebot of 1516 (the Purity Law which originated in Bavaria) beer has been brewed pretty much the same way for the past 500 years. The Purity Law states that only water, hops, malt and yeast can be used to brew beer. However, the Germans are taking a page from our book as evidenced by the emerging craft beer scene over there.
According to Bloomberg News, “the number of micro-breweries in Germany has increased by 37% in the past decade (2005-2015)”, but “their output represents less than 1 percent of Germany’s total beer production.” By contrast, according to the U.S. Brewers Association, in the U.S. craft beer represented 16% of all beer sales in 2015 (see chart below).
But the writing is on the wall, and while the large German breweries haven’t publicly shown much interest to-date, some American craft brewers are getting into this nascent market while it’s still young. Stone Brewing, for example, opened a brewery in Berlin in June 2106 reflecting the perceived growth opportunity for craft beer in Germany (and the rest of the EU).
If Only It Was That Simple
Craft brewing in Bavaria is different than the rest of Germany in that Bavaria rigorously enforces the Reinheitsgebot. Bavarian authorities allow zero leeway for craft brewers in Bavaria to add anything to their beer besides the 4 basic ingredients stipulated in the law.
By contrast, in most other German states a brewer can request permission from the Reinheitsgebot authorities to brew and market beer with ingredients other than just water, hops, malt and yeast. While permission is generally granted, the resulting product cannot be labeled “beer”.
On top of that, being part of the European Union, Germany and must follow its conventions regarding cross-border trade. Therefore, if a beer is brewed in another country where its allowed to be called beer, regardless of the ingredients, then it can be imported and sold as "beer" in all German states, including in Bavaria.
Most German brewers, including craft brewers support the Reinheitsgebot, but the craft brewing industry would like to see a change in the law to allow for natural ingredients to be used in brewing. They can point to their neighbors in Belgium as a country with a proud tradition of producing natural, yet very creative, interesting and popular beers.
Introducing Munich’s “Gypsy Brewers”
To get a feel for the Munich craft beer scene, we spoke with four small craft brewers to learn how they see things on the ground. And when we say “small”, we mean small:
The cool thing about these craft/gypsy brewers is that they represent the cutting edge of Munich craft brewing, much like Sierra Nevada did in the U.S. back in the 80’s. So speaking with these brewers is like traveling back time!
Located in Munich, Hopfmeister was founded by Marc Gallo in 2014 and is a bit unique in that Marc doesn’t have a traditional brewing background. Instead, he was a graphic designer by trade who enjoyed craft beer and wanted to apply his creative skills to brewing and marketing his own beer.
Marc currently bottles four “Always” beers (available year-round):
Marc also produces seasonal beers most of which are collaboratively brewed outside of Bavaria to skirt the Reinheitsgebot. His current seasonal selection includes two that would be right at home in the U.S.:
Located about 20 miles northeast of Munich in Freising, Isarkindl was founded in 2014 by Simon Klur and Xaver Amler, ages 27 and 29. Simon and Xaver both graduated from the Brewing and Beverage Technology program at the renowned Weihenstephan Technical University, which is also in Freising.
Isarkindl currently bottles two year-round beers:
We asked Simon if the large German breweries (e.g., Bitburger, Paulaner, Spaten, etc.) have shown any interest in the craft beer market and he echoed the sentiment of others saying that they haven’t shown much interest to-date.
One of the few “large” breweries being creative is Schneider Weisse in Kelheim, which, in collaboration with the Brooklyn Brewery, and in accordance with the Reinheitsgebot, created Meine Hopfenweisse. Meine Hopfenweisse is a relatively hoppy, strong wheat beer (8.2% ABV, 40 IBU) that is a creative departure from traditional Bavarian wheat beers.
MUNICH BREW MAFIA
Located in Munich and founded in 2016 by Dario Stieren and Niklas Zerhoch, Munich Brew Mafia has come on the scene very quickly. They currently offer two year-round beers, both of which are made in accordance with the Reinheitsgebot.
Dario, age 27, is also graduate of the Weihenstephan Technical University, and he and Niklas both find plenty to keep them busy. When they’re not brewing, bottling, marketing, or any one of the many things associated with their business they also work at the Tap-House which is one of the best places in Munich to find a very wide selection of domestic and imported craft beers.
Dario and Niklas have two additional year-round beers coming – a Porter and a Pale Ale. And like others, they’ve brewed collaboration beers outside of Bavaria including a Belgian-style Kölsch brewed in Naples, Italy that included lavender (definitely not Reinheitsgebot-friendly!). They have plans to open a tasting room, but for the time being you can find Munich Brew Mafia in select bars and restaurants throughout Munich and Germany, including the Tap-House.
Located in Munich, Tilmans Biere was founded in 2014 by Tilman Ludwig and he sold his first beer that same year. Like several of the others, Tilman is also a graduate of the Weihenstephan Technical University and he became interested in craft beer while studying at the TU through a couple student friends from America.
Today, Tilmans Bier offers 4 year-round beers:
To give you a sense for the seriousness with which the Reinheitsgebot authorities take their responsibilities, earlier this year Tilman brewed and bottled a couple specialty beers (including an oyster Stout) and printed on the label “Not a Beer”. Within 24 hours, he was contacted by the authorities who ordered him to pull the beer from the shelves. He was fortunate that he wasn’t also fined.
Original Gravity Tours
We think you’ll agree that Munich’s craft beer scene would be fun to explore. And one of the beauties of visiting Munich is that on the same day you can visit the oldest brewery in the world (Weihenstephaner, founded 1040) as well as one of the newest breweries!
If you’re able to join one of our Munich & Bamberg Tours this summer, we’ll introduce you to the old and new beer scenes and you’ll come home with some great experiences under your belt. But if that’s not possible, please consider sharing this newsletter with your beer-lover friends and following us on Facebook.
Greetings Beer & Travel Lovers!
Last month we introduced that nectar of the winter beer gods - Starkbier. This month, we offer a peak into Day 3 of our Munich & Bamberg Tour when we tour one brewery, ferry the Danube, and drop into another brewery for a relaxing afternoon.
Kelheim, Germany is a small town of 16,000 people that’s located about 70 miles north of Munich. Although small, it definitely packs a punch when it comes to brewing as it’s home to “Bavaria’s Oldest Wheat Beer Brewery” and to the “Oldest Monastery Brewery in the World”!
Located at the confluence of the Danube and Main Rivers, Kelheim was first settled by the Celts around 500 BC and the town’s name translates to “Big Celt Ship”. Fast-forward to the 11th century AD when the town passed into the hands of the Wittelsbach dynasty, the ruling family of Bavaria.
Strategically located, Kelheim was attractive to the Wittelsbachs for three reasons:
[Image of Downtown Kelheim Temporarily Removed]
Schneider Weisse – Bavaria’s Oldest Wheat Beer Brewery
Our first stop in Kelheim is at the Schneider Weisse brewery. Also mentioned in our January Blog Post, Schneider Weisse was founded in 1872 by Georg Schneider I after he became the first non-royal to obtain wheat beer brewing privileges from King Ludwig II of Bavaria.
Georg I began brewing in Munich at the old Weisses Bräuhaus location and continued there until 1928 when the need to expand saw him purchase the current brewery in Kelheim. The Kelheim brewery was originally built by Duke Maximilian I when he opened his first wheat beer brewery outside of Munich in 1607, and wheat beer has been brewed here continuously since then.
The Schneider Weisse tour is my favorite as it combines the ability to view the brewing process, along with informative displays and very accommodating tour guides who walk you thru the brewing steps and are happy to take the time to answer all questions.
Of course, no tour would be complete without tasting some of what you’ve just watched being produced. So we conclude our time at Schneider Weisse with a hearty and relaxing lunch in the Bräustüberl restaurant or beer garden with a beer sommelier who will “taste” us through their beer line-up including popular favorites, Mein Original (Tap 7) and Mein Aventinus (Tap 6).
On The Danube
After Schneider Weisse, we board a ferry for a relaxing and scenic 40-minute ride up the Danube River to our next brewery.
Along the way we’ll have a commanding view of the "Befreiungshalle" (Liberation Hall), which is a Kelheim landmark located atop Michelsberg Hill. King Ludwig I erected this monument in the mid-1800s to commemorate the German states victories against Napoleon during the War of Liberation in 1813.
We then pass thru the Danube Gorge, which is formed by cliffs that rise as high as 400 feet above the river, and come to our next stop – Weltenburger Kloster.
Weltenburger Kloster – The Oldest Monastery Brewery in the World
Weltenburger Kloster is located on the banks of the Danube and is thought to be the oldest monastery in Germany. Celtic monks who came to spread Christianity throughout the area founded the monastery in 617 AD. The brewery was then opened in 1050 which allows Weltenburger to also claim to be the oldest monastery brewery in the world!
Our time at Weltenburger is fairly unstructured as the abbey is a great place for relaxing regardless of what you choose to do. We’ll grab a table in the beer garden but tour members are free to explore as they wish. Things to do include:
We think you’ll agree that Kelheim does indeed “punch above its weight” when it comes to beer and we hope you’ll consider joining one of our Munich & Bamberg Tours this summer. If that’s not possible, please consider sharing this newsletter with your beer-lover friends and following us on Facebook.
Greetings Beer & Travel Lovers!
Many people are set in their ways about things, including the type of beer they drink. For example, if you’re an IPA or stout lover, you probably go for one of those 80% of the time.
Besides the fact that we’re comfortable with the familiar, most Americans form opinions about beer based on what’s most available at the local market. In the case of wheat beers, that’s Blue Moon (#1 selling brand) and Shock Top whose line-up currently includes Honeycrisp Apple Wheat, Shockolate Wheat, and Twisted Preztel Wheat.
Sound appealing? Not to me, and if you share my sentiments, and are curious about what “real” wheat beer tastes like, then this article’s for you.
History of Wheat Beer 101
Towards the end of the Bronze Age, the inhabitants of northern and central Europe started to make beer from barley, wheat or any other grain that was readily available. Barley-based beer was generally dark brown, while wheat-based was much lighter in color (and flavor) and thus referred to as white beer or Weissbier (pronounced “vice-beer”, aka, Hefeweizen, Weizenbier, Weisse).
[Image Temporarily Removed]
In Bavaria and the rest of Germany, any grain was acceptable until 1447, when, mainly for political reasons, the Munich city council issued an ordinance stating that brewers could use only barley, hops and water in brewing beer. This was the forerunner of the Reinheitsgebot or German Beer Purity Law of 1516 that stipulated the same restrictions for all of Germany (yeast was added later after it had been discovered).
But the Reinheitsgebot applied only to “commoners” and wheat beer was still brewed by the Bavarian royal family, the Wittelsbachs. Eventually though, the barley-based lagers of Bavaria improved, became more popular, and by 1808, the duke’s “brown beer” brewery absorbed the adjacent white beer brewery into its operations.
By the 1870s, wheat beer had fallen out of favor and in 1872, the Wittelsbachs sold wheat beer brewing rights to Georg Schneider I, founder of the G. Schneider & Sohn brewery in Munich. In 1927, the Schneider Weisse brewery moved to Kelheim where it continues operating today under the direction of Georg Schneider VI.
Want to Try the Best?
For a good introduction to traditional German wheat beer, I recommend trying two of my favorites – Schneider Weisse Original and Weihenstephan Vitus. These breweries’ recipes and brewing techniques have remained consistent thru the years, and for wheat beer purists they are the “real deal”. But before trying them, please watch this short video from Munich-based brewery Paulaner that shows how to properly pour a wheat beer... you may be surprised!
Schneider Original, as it is often called, is brewed using the same recipe created by Georg Schneider I back in 1864 and to me it’s the best example of a traditional German wheat beer one can find. Unpasteurized and unfiltered, it’s brewed using traditional open tank and top fermentation methods, followed by secondary bottle fermentation. Schneider Weisse also happens to be the oldest wheat beer brewery in Bavaria.
Vitus is named after Saint Vitus who founded Weihenstephan as a Benedictine monastery in the year 725 in Freising, Germany. The first brewing activity is thought to have begun around 768, but in 1040, the brewery officially opened on the hill next to the monastery. Today, the Weihenstephan brewery is owned by the State of Bavaria, as is the adjacent Weihenstephan-Triesdorf University, which offers the most prestigious brewing program in the world.
Weihenstephan Vitus is a light-colored, spicy, single-bock wheat beer (“Weizenbock”) that is deceptively smooth for such a high-alcohol beer. It’s also worth mentioning that Vitus has won a World Beer Awards award for 7 straight years including "Best Beer in the World" in 2011 (across all categories, not just wheat beers).
Try the Best with Original Gravity Tours
In case you haven't guessed, our Munich & Bamberg Brewery Tour includes tours of both the Weihenstephan and Schneider Weisse breweries followed by enjoyable and informative tasting sessions. So if you're able to join us, you can try all of their incredible beers served about as fresh as you’re going to find!
We hope you enjoyed this month's post and we hope you’ll consider joining one of our Munich & Bamberg Tours. Even if that’s not possible, please consider sharing this post with your beer-lover friends and following us on Facebook.
Thank you and Prost!
Greetings and Happy Holidays from Original Gravity Tours!
In our previous post, we shared a few improvements we’re making to our German Brewery Tour, which includes spending two days in and around Bamberg. In this newsletter, we provide a sneak peak into a few of the things we’ll experience there:
When you think of German beer you probably think of Oktoberfest or Munich, right? Right, but there’s another place you need to know about that “smokes” Munich when it comes to beer.
Bamberg is a small, medieval town (pop. 70,000) situated on the banks of the Regnitz River and located about 140 miles north of Munich in the region of Upper Franconia, in northern Bavaria. While Munich is home to more famous breweries (e.g., Hofbräuhaus) Bamberg and Upper Franconia are home to the highest concentration of breweries, per capita, in the world!
A UNESCO World Heritage Site and dating back to the year 902, Bamberg is worth visiting even if you aren’t a beer lover due to efforts made to preserve and rebuild much of the old town according to its original design and architecture. But for beer lovers, Bamberg is “beer heaven” as it is home to nine breweries and the home of Rauchbier; a complex, smoke flavored beer that’s famous around the world. Below are intros to three of those 9 breweries that we also happen to visit on our tours.
Situated in the center of the old town, Rauchbierbrauerei Schlenkerla is one of two breweries famous for producing Rauchbier, a beer made with smoked barley, which imparts a distinct, smoked flavor to the beer. Founded in 1405, they produce 7 varieties of Rauchbier from their Helles Schlenkerla Lager (the lightest in color, flavor and alcohol, 4.3% ABV) to a strong dark beer, Schlenkerla Oak Smoke (8% ABV double bock) that makes a perfect companion on a cold winter night
A short stroll away you’ll find the other “famous” Rauchbier brewery in town, Brauerei Spezial (founded in 1536). Spezial produces 5 different varieties starting with their only unsmoked beer called Spezial Ungespundete (an unfiltered lager, 4.9% ABV). The rest are all smoked beers, and the strongest is a dark, bock beer called – not so creatively – Spezial Bockbier (7.0% ABV).
Note: Rauchbier is an acquired taste – some people love it, others hate – but if you get hooked, you’ll be hooked for life! And both Schlenkerla and Spezial offer very old beer halls (think hand-carved timbers) that are guaranteed to invoke feelings of Gemütlichkeit.
Continuing on you’ll come to Mahrs Bräu (founded in 1670) which is famous not for Rauchbier, but for their award-winning Mahrs U (an unfiltered lager, 5.2% ABV). People often ask what’s special about unfiltered lagers. A reasonable analogy is the difference between eating wheat bread and white bread. Wheat bread contains more of the actual wheat kernel and generally has a richer flavor and texture than white bread. Similarly, an unfiltered lager contains small particles from the grains used to brew the beer and thus tends to be more flavorful than a standard lager, which is filtered to remove those particles. But don’t take our word for it, try a Mahrs U and find out for yourself!
Barley & Malt Lesson, 101:
There’s at least one more “beer place” worth visiting in Bamberg and that’s the Weyermann malting plant (founded in 1879) which is one of the most respected malt producers in the world.
Lesson: Malt is a key ingredient in brewing beer as it provides color, flavor and the sugars that are converted by yeast into alcohol. Malt is produced by soaking barley (or other grains) in water until it’s partially germinated. It’s then kiln dried (most common) or dried over open flames to produce different styles of malt (light, dark, smoked, etc.). This in turn allows a brewer to make different styles of beer by combining different styles of malt in their brewing recipes.
On our tours, we visit the Weyermann malting plant to learn first-hand how different styles of malt are produced. Weyermann also has an “experimental brewery” where they test malts to determine the impact on different beer styles. Our tours include a tasting session in the brewery that will help you understand the direct connection between malt and the resulting beer product.
We think you'll agree that for such a small town, Bamberg has a lot to offer, and we hope this post wets your appetite for some summer travel!
We hope you enjoyed this post! If so, please share it with your beer-lover friends and suggest they join our Mailing List.
Happy Holidays and Prost!
Hi folks and welcome to the OGT Beer Blog! We're back from our tour of Munich and Bavaria and happy to say it was a tremendous success! In our first blog post, I’ll share highlights from that tour and introduce a few changes we have in store for our Summer 2017 tours.
Fall Tour Highlights
The highlight of the fall tour was the day we spent at the Schneider Weisse brewery (founded in 1607) followed by a ferry ride up the Danube River to Weltenburger Kloster (monastery & brewery, founded in 1050).
While touring Schneider Weisse, we bumped into their master brewer who was nice enough to spend time with us and let us taste one of his private, never-to-be-released brewing projects! We followed this with lunch and a tasting of all of the very special beers produced by this historic brewery.
From there we boarded a ferry for a scenic 40-minute ride up the Danube River to Weltenburger where we made a quick visit to the church (beautiful!) and then enjoyed several beers including their award-winning Asam Bock. It was a great day and a unique and enjoyable experience for everyone!
The "runner-up" highlight was our day-trip to the Bavarian Alps to visit Neuschwanstein Castle and Linderhoff Palace. This included a drive along the Romantic Road with stops at the Wieskirche in Steingaden (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Plansee (scenic alpine lake), the town of Oberammergau, and lunch in Schwangau (great view of multiple castles).
"IF YOU LOVE TRAVEL AND LOVE BEER, AND WANT A TRULY UNIQUE EXPERIENCE, CONSIDER TAKING A TOUR WITH ORIGINAL GRAVITY TOURS." Andy B., Seattle, WA
Summer 2017 Tour Changes
Everyone knows Munich has a strong brewing culture... but most people have never heard of Bamberg.
Bamberg is a small medieval town of 70,000 people situated in Upper Franconia in northern Bavaria. With more than 200 independent breweries, Upper Franconia has the world’s highest density of breweries per capita!
In 2017 we’re expanding our itinerary to include two full days (3 nights) in Bamberg:
2017 Munich & Bamberg Tour Highlights
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!