A Visit to Kloster Andechs
I recently had six days to explore Bavaria and the Tyrol regions of Germany, Austria and Italy. It was just a wee taste, there is no doubt I will return here to get deeper and experience more of the mountain life these areas are known for. Absolutely breathtaking scenery, extraordinarily warm people and a general sense of ‘coziness’ I’ll elaborate on later. It felt like it could be home in a way, with familiar foods and decor thanks to my grandparents’ influence living in the region before migrating to Canada (and bringing a little bit of Bavaria with them).
I was on a magazine assignment in the western parts of Germany near Dortmund and once finished, took a high-speed train south to Munich to meet my friend Nadin Brendel. Nadin runs a great site called Munich and the Mountains, and we share passions for music, peaks and wild places. Being German herself, she was the bridge between cultures for me and as such we had an easy time getting by and learning more about the area. After renting a car and navigating out of town, our first stop was Kloster Andechs — a renowned Benedictine Abbey producing some of the world’s finest beer since 1455 at their adjacent Klosterbrauerei. A storm was just passing and the light was changing rapidly, casting golden glows, then a purple tint over the valley. Views from atop the ‘Holy Mountain’ revealed the cute town below and more storm clouds on the horizon.
With the wet weather, the beer gardens were closed, so inside we went for some samples in the common beer hall. I opted for the Doppelbock Dunkel, while Nadin tried their Radler. We were a little hungry, so in came a cold plate of food — a massive pretzel, strong hard cheese, sausage slices, white onions and a delicious soft cheese spread called Obatzda. Adjacent to us was the house table where a family brought their own spread of food and across the room was the Stammtisch – a German word for ‘regular’s table’ where friends of the house gather to discuss village news, politics, sport and such. Another fine place to bring your own dinner, patrons here had tupperware containers of stew and meats alongside their Maßkrug – the 1L stein of beer. No, it’s not just tourists who drink the 1L beers! A cage containing individual locked-up steins sits in a second hall; personalized mugs of all sizes safely stored until the owner makes their next trip up the hill for a fill.
I can safely say the Doppelbock Dunkel was one of the finest beers I’ve ever tried (and I go out of my way to try new beer). The depth and drinkability was apparent in the centuries old recipe. Worth another trip just for that! Luckily, on my last day in Munich I came across the Andechs ‘pub’ and had another one for the road. With the light fading and our way down darkening, we said Auf Wiedersehen to Andechs, to return again someday soon with sun overhead and Doppelbock in the belly. Next stop, the foothills of the Alps…
Andechs, Bavaria, Germany, 2014.
(click the first image below to view large – recommended!)