Friday, May 4, 2012

Accidental beer tourist: a visit to Weltenburger Kloster

So I did take a while to settle in to Munich but it was finally time for a day trip out of the city. I woke up to a bright sunshine-y feiertag (state holiday) and decided to make my way to the Hauptbahnhof (main station) in Munich for a last minute train trip to Weltenburger Kloster.

It ended up being a bit of a train roulette as I took out my Cape Town manners an arrived just as the train was preparing to leave. So I didn't really have time to phone the group of American expats whom I decided to join at the last minute.

Well, I made a run for it and as luck would have it, I picked the right train and met up with my mildly amused companions. So what was this Weltenburg outing all about anyway? Beer would be a good guess. After a two hour train trip and a short bus ride, we finally boarded our ferry on the Danube River in Kelheim. The lime stone cliffs along the way had me enchanted even before we reached the Danube Gorge where the Weltenburger Kloster brewery was set.

Founded in the 7th century by monks who followed the patron saints of brewing, this baroque Benedictine abbey is the oldest monastry in Bavaria. Today it boasts a modern, high tech brewery right next to the abbey church. The Weltenburger Kloster Barock Dunkel recently won the Best Dark Beer category at the World Beer Awards in San Diego, claiming the Gold Medal as the best dark lager in the world.

Out of the four beers we tasted the Barock Dunkel was by far my favourite. I don't usually like dark beers but this one was very light in consistency and slightly sweet. In fact I think I might like it even more than any beer I've tasted in general. Not that I'm a beer sommelier, but this was clearly a good place to start my beer education.

A restaurant and open air biergarten in the wing of the monastry serves a large variety of traditional German food. I indulged in some roasted pork with crispy crackling while my American friends tried the schnitzel and the seasonal white asparagus. We also had a good laugh about the sausage salad. Germans love their meat and have a variety of meat salads mixed with mayonnaise, as though that could ever really be a substitute for tomato and cucumber.

The Weltenburger Kloster setting is truly magical. It's not only the fresh air and magnificent natural beauty which are so impressive but also the fact that they keep everything super clean, no matter how many tourists descend on this holy grail of beer on any given sunny day.

No comments: