Monday, February 20, 2012

German Monastery Breweries

As far as we can tell there are only three operating monastery breweries still in Germany. They are, from north to south, Kloster Weltenburg, Kloster Sheyern and Kloster Ancechs; all in Bavaria. There are other breweries that were once associated with a monastery such as Tegernsee and Weihenstephaner (which is the oldest operating brewery in the world beginning operations in 1040) but, although the brewery still operates, the abbey, for various reasons, no longer exists and so they can't be considered a monastery brewery.

Below is a map that shows where these three monastery brewies are located in Bavaria. At the top you can see Nuremburg, in the upper right corner of the map is a gray line showing the Czech border, bottom right, Austria, and just northeast of the blue pin is Munich. The green pin is Kloster Weltenburg, the red Kloster Scheyern and the blue is Kloster Andechs.

Kloster Weltenburg is situated on a peninsula in the Danube River just below the high granite walls of the Danube Gorge. This Benedictine monastery was founded in 620 by Irish or Scottish monks near what is now Kelheim, Bavaria. They began brewing operations in 1050 which makes them the oldest operating monastery brewery in the world. Weltenburg Kloster Barock Dunkel has been selected as the world’s best dunkel beer at prestigious beer competitions.

If you happen to arrive at Weltenburg on the west side of the river you'll have to take a quite unique ferry across the Danube to access the kloster, there are no bridges for quite a few miles in either direction.

The Kloster church is a magnificent example of Baroque designs built by the famous Asam brothers.   Interestingly, one of the breweries best beers, which we have in our fridge right now, is called Weltenburger Asam Bock, a great doppelbock dunkel; double dark beer.

A large beer garden courtyard serves the Kloster’s wonderful beers and Bavarian dishes and if the weather isn't agreeable they have a great gasthaus to serve all the same.  You can see from the photo above that Kloster Weltenburg has a quite majestic setting which makes it a very special place to visit and an amazing place to sample some of Germany's best beers.

Kloster Sheyern is a another Benedictine monastery in the Bavarian town of Sheyern. The monks began brewing beer in 1119 for their own consumption and some of the lucky local people.  In the mid-1800's the monks moved their brewing operations to Augsburg but in May 2006 the monastery’s newly renovated brewery began operating once again on the premises of Kloster Sheyern.

Scheyern was considered the monastery of the Wittelsbach royal dynasty who swayed power in Bavaria from 1180 to 1918. Today Kloster Scheyern, in addition to a monastery and brewery, also houses a vocational high school. Plus, if you notice in the picture above, the monks have a pool too.

Above, you'll see the empty square by Kloster Scheyern. No check there because we haven't been here . . . yet. It's on our list for this summer. I'm sure we'll let you know about it right here on our blog. So all we know about Scheyern is the pictures we've seen on the Internet and what we've read on their web site. We haven't met anyone that's actually visited Kloster Scheyern either. But, from the pictures it looks like a great place to visit with a very nice beer hall and beer garden.

Kloster Andechs is situated on a hill that has become known as the Holy Mountain. This Benedictine monastery has been brewing beer since 1455 and, by many accounts, their Kloster Andechs Doppelbock Dunkel is the best beer in the entire world. The Kloster is located in the town of Andechs on the eastern shore of the Ammersee just a half hour drive southwest of Munich.

Originally, a castle sat atop the hill but that was leveled in 1080 because of an assasination and much political intrique. Today, the interior of the abbey church, which dates from the mid-18th century, is another example of amazing Baroque designs, much of it decorated in shiny white porcelain.

Kloster Andechs has a large, dark wood, typical Bavarian beer hall for inside eating and drinking, a big outdoor sun deck where you can sit and see the Alps on a clear day and, part way down the hill, a very nice beer garden.  With all that is some of the best beer in Germany, an maybe the world, and certainly the best schwein hax'n eaten to date.

We've been making pilgrimages to Kloster Andechs for almost twenty-five years now. It's one of our favorite locations in all of Germany.   That little phrase on top of their logo says, "Food for the body and soul" and we'd have to agree because everytime we leave Kloster Andechs we're always very happy and quite full.


  1. Great blog about the monastery breweries! Weltenburg looks amazing and so beautiful. So glad we made it to Kloster Andechs during our visit and can't wait to go back in September. Can't wait to have some of their Dopplebock Dunkel!

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