Sunday, May 30, 2010

It Was A Beautiful Day For.......

Yesterday was an absolutely gorgeous day outside and what did I do, a 10 mile run, a 50 mile bike ride, nope I hoped in my car took a ride about 90 minutes south of here to visit a Benedictine Monastary and in Germany that means only one thing, beer.  God bless those monks.  The brewery we visted was the Weltenburg Kloster brewery We went down to Kelheim and got on a river boat, took a leisurely 40 minute cruise on the Danube River where we got an early taste of the beer whose brewery we were going to visit and ate a light lunch. 

We hoped off the boat right at noon and went inside to find out about the tours.  The 1230 tour was full so we asked for the next one which was at 2pm.  We wandered around the monastery, looked in the beautiful chapel and finally found a seat in the beer garden, where I tried two more of the monastary's excellent beers and plate of wurst and potatoes in a cream sauce.  Shantel split a plate of french fires with Macen and had a Radler (you'll have to wait a couple of weeks for a Radler explanation, I've got a review post scheduled).  Everything was excellent.

The time for our tour finally came and despite the fact that 90% of it was in Germany it was really interesting.  The brewery is a completely modernized/computerized operation.  Our guide, Josef, was exceptionally knowledgeable and kept apologizing for his poor English.  His English was still better than my German and he provided simple explanations of what we were seeing English so Shantel and I could follow along.  Josef did let us know that some time later this summer the brewery plans on having English text or placards to hand out to their German challanged visitors, so they get a better explanation.

About halfway through the tour we got to sample their Hefe Weissen, the Anno 1050, the Asam Bock, and the multiple World Beer Cup award winning Barock Dunkel.  We finished up the tour got our complimentary 12 oz glasses and returned back to the boat for the quick trip back to the car and then home to Vilseck.

The monastery was founded in the 600s and it is thought that the monks started brewing beer there in 1050, some people claim this to be the oldest monastery brewery in the world something that is disputed by the Weihenstephan Brewery which claims to have been founded in 768 and licensed as a brewery in 1040.  I really don't care which one is the oldest because they both brew darn good beers.

Let me tie this in to bike riding and running for just a second.  The Kelheim area and the monastery were a biker's paradise.  I saw more road racing/tri bikes yesterday than I have at any other time in Germany and about half the people at the monastery were on mountain bikes.  There were also tons of people running along the Danube.  One of the cool rides that we discovered, while wandering around, was from downtown Kelheim west and then up and over a small hill/mountain with switchback curves down to the river on the opposite side of the monastery.  Then all you had to do was wait for the ferryman to take you across.  It would have been a great ride and I wish I lived closer.

Here are some pictures.

The view from the river boat as we approached the monastery.  If you aren't in to biking or running the I really recommend taking the boat cruise instead of driving there.
This crest was on the tank on the main floor.  The inscription says For Mary and Jesus.  See God really does want us to drink beer, or at least the monks say so.

A couple of pictures of the brewing area.  Josef our guide was very knowledge and did his best to give us a quick English run down.
The area where the barley is stored and then poured into the brewing vats.
Wooden kegs.  I've never seen any of those, just the standard American metal kegs.  Kind of interesting.
The two glasses were what we sampled beer the beer from during the tour and got to keep the stone bierkrug in the middle is something I bought.  I'm a sucker for cool beer mugs and I really like the German stone ones.

I tried three of their beers, the Assam Bock, the Anno 1050, and the Urtyp Hell.  I had a half glass of the award winning Barock Dunkel during the tour but I didn't really take any notes on it.  I've get weekly beer reviews scheduled all the way out til Mid August so that's when you'll see what I thought of these.  To be brief though they were pretty darn good.


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