Clichés about hidden gems aside, there are hidden gems, and then there are true hidden gems. De Garre is a true hidden gem — literally. The address is simple enough: De Garre 1. But it’s a clue more than anything else. You have to look hard for this place tucked away to the southeast of the Grote Markt in an alley along the Breidelstraat in Bruges. The small passage, wide enough for two people, is a bit like an Edinburgh alley: blink and you’ll miss it.
Munich has it all for the beer drinker. And if that’s not enough, breweries like Ayinger, Kloster Andechs, and Weihenstephan fan out at various points along Munich’s regional train network. But there’s even more beer bliss in store for the intrepid beer traveler willing to journey further afield. This cluster of historic beer towns, aristocratic breweries, and monastery beer gardens is a short trip away in Upper Bavaria. You can combine a few of these as day trips from Munich, or base yourself in Bad Tölz for some relaxing small-town charm in the foothills of the Alps.
The broad verdant valley north of Nürnberg gradually gives way to hillier terrain covered in woods. There’s gold in them there leafy hills the closer you get to Bamberg. Liquid gold, that is. And liquid amber, bronze, and copper. The spires and steeples of Bamberg may well symbolize the city’s historical power and influence, but it’s those green hills that have long nurtured one of the sources of Bamberg’s wealth: beer.
You’ll come for the beer and stay for the Alps. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Either way, the panoramic view from Kloster Reutberg’s terrace is one of the best beer garden views in Bavaria. If you get here in the morning while the mist is still clinging to the Alps, it’s as if the curtain is lifting on a majestic performance as the sun dissipates the clouds.
Speaking of early, cyclists and hikers flock to the monastery grounds perched idyllically atop a hillock rising gently above the meadows of Sachsenkam, especially when the weather’s nice. Be sure to arrive early enough to claim your front-row seat on the terrace. The early bird gets the worm. And don’t forget to bring sunscreen.
A refreshing beer and a meal in the cooling shade of the beer garden: It’s a beloved rite of spring and summer that dates back to early nineteenth-century Bavaria. For several years, the citizens of Munich had taken to spending more of their time (and cash) during the warmer months at the beer cellars along the banks of the Isar, preferring these shaded chestnut groves to the stuffy inns where the beer was decidedly less fresh. Innkeepers were incensed and petitioned King Maximilian I. Joseph of Bavaria (1806–1825) to do something to stop these dastardly brewers from serving beer garden food.
Kloster Andechs occupies a central place in the pantheon of German brewing. Founded by Benedictine monks in 1455, Kloster Andechs has been offering hospitality to weary pilgrims ever since. Now run by the Benedictine Abbey of St. Boniface in Munich, Kloster Andechs is the largest of the handful of bona fide monastery breweries remaining in Germany. It’s also one of the few regional German breweries with beers reliably available this side of the pond. (Even if you haven’t already tried the beers of Kloster Andechs, you’d probably recognize the label depicting a Baroque monastery surrounded by greenery.) Though Kloster Andechs still welcomes upwards of one hundred organized pilgrimage groups per year, the monastery plays host to scores more people who make the trek for a different reason: the world-class beer.
WEISSENOHE AT THE GATEWAY TO FRANCONIAN SWITZERLAND
Written by Franz Hofer for A Tempest in a Tankard
It’s a gloomy afternoon in late spring made slightly brighter by the cheerful yellow canola in full bloom and the several shades of green fields spread over the hills like a patchwork quilt. The bus from Forchheim has just deposited me at a nondescript crossroads on the highway. Tucked away in a hollow to my right, I spy the iconic steeple presiding over the monastery complex I’ve seen on so many bottles of beer from Klosterbrauerei Weissenohe. I’m in the right place.
Tucked away in northeastern Bavaria on the Czech border, the Oberpfalz is home to Zoigl, a beer style brewed the same way it was a century ago. But Zoigl is more than a beer style. It’s an ethos upholding a tradition that has long since died out across most of Bavaria. For starters, Zoigl is brewed in a communal brewhouse, a brewing arrangement held over from medieval times. From there, the brewers transport the brew to their own cellars for fermentation before serving them in their Zoiglstuben for only a few days every month. Just look for the six-pointed Zoiglstern, the telltale sign that reveals where the beer is flowing.
And those Zoiglstuben! The Zoiglstube is more of a living room than a restaurant, a convivial place where every seat is full by late afternoon. It’s virtually impossible not to engage with other people. A steady stream of locals crowd in to swap stories or catch up on the news of the day, gladly making room for all who pass through the door. After a few Zoiglbier, we’re all locals.
Here at PGA we have had regular links to A Tempest in a Tankard, a website we highly recommend. Because of the crisis we have permission to post the whole article. Please visit A Tempest in a Tankard, where Franz will have more articles during this crisis.
Never in recent memory has the phrase “support your local brewery” meant more than it does now.
I published an article in the local newspaper a week ago about the inaugural Oklahoma Craft Beer Awards. It began like this:
“Oklahoma may have been a craft beer desert a decade ago, but the beer scene has exploded in the past seven years. The Sooner State is now home to over sixty breweries, and just about every city has a brewpub or three.”
In retrospect, it seems I had begun to take craft beer for granted. I can find literally dozens more brands and styles now than when we moved to Oklahoma. Our town, Stillwater, has a brewery. When we go to OKC or Tulsa, we can easily spend an afternoon visiting new breweries and old favourites. And I’m set whenever I visit family and friends in Vancouver.