Kloster Andechs, the monastery brewery some 40 km to the south west of the city. We have visited this legendary establishment on every previous stay in the Bavarian capital, so a fourth visit just had to be undertaken.
For those not in the know, Kloster Andechs is situated on top of the
Holy Mountain and unlike many such breweries that claim a monastic
connection, is still run by the holy fathers. It is quite easy to reach,
just take S-Bahn S-5 to the the end of the line at Herrsching,
from where a short bus ride will deposit you at the foot of the Heiliger
Berg. Better still, providing you have plenty of time, why not enjoy
the walk up through the woods to Andechs? That way not only will you
feel spiritually refreshed, but you will enjoy your beer all the more
when you get there!
I must confess I have only done the outward walk once, which was on my first visit to the monastery, and that time was travelling alone. On subsequent visits I have been accompanied by my son Matthew who, like many young people of his age seems to have an aversion to exercise! On my second, and his first, trip there I did actually manage to get him to walk back down into Herrsching, but I have not managed to repeat the feat since!
On that first visit I was relying solely on Graham Lee's pioneering Good Beer Guide to Munich and Bavaria, published by CAMRA in 1994. Graham recommended the walk, and being a keen rambler myself I thought it sounded an excellent idea. With the aid of a basic map, obtained from the local tourist office, I managed to find my way to Andechs without too much trouble, although at one stage I was beginning to wonder just how much further ahead my destination lay! When I finally arrived I just couldn't believe how many people were there, bearing in mind I had seen very few other people on my very pleasant jaunt up through the woods. I later discovered that most of them had made the journey by bus!
It was worth the hike up to Andechs, and saving the monastery church and the souvenir shop for later on I made straight for the Braeustuerbl. I discovered that a self-service system operated, with separate queues; one for the beer, and the other for the food. Beer first and then food after (got to get the priorities right!), but on that first visit I made the mistake of ordering a Haxe (huge lump of roast pig) which was as much as I could manage and which more than negated the calories I'd burned off in walking up through the woods!. The beer was excellent though, and I tried the 5.6% Spezial Helles, the strong 7.1% Doppelbock Dunkel, plus a special celebratory brew called Jubilaumsbier Dunkel. who's strength lay somewhere in between.
After looking round the monastery gift shop I tried to burn off a bit more of the roast pork by climbing to the top of the onion-domed monastery church. The view from the top over the surrounding wooded countryside, against the backdrop of Ammersee lake, was worth the climb, and I felt a little less guilty for my lunchtime over-indulgence. The walk back to Herrsching was a doddle, as it was all downhill, and when I arrived in the town I wandered down for a look at the lake, before catching the S-Bahn back into Munich.
On our most recent trip we were able to introduce Matt's friend Will to the delights of Andechs. Will had flown out to join us for the last two days of our holiday, and although he was fresh off the early morning flight from Gatwick, we insisted on him accompanying us on our regular pilgrimage. It was pouring hard with rain; in fact it was the only wet day of our trip, but we didn't let a drop of rain spoil our enjoyment. After Will had dumped his bags in one of the left-luggage lockers at Munich Hauptbahnhof, we caught the first available S-5 train to Herrsching where, as luck would have it, we boarded the privately run Rauner line bus that was waiting outside the station. There were a lot of school kids on board; I say kids, but they were probably all sixth formers. They too were making for Kloster Andechs and whilst we were marginally surprised to see then drinking beer later on, one must remember that the legal age for the consumption of beer and wine in Germany is only 16.
Despite it being a wet and rather miserable Monday, the Braeustueberl was packed when we arrived, so after availing ourselves of a half litre each of Spezial Helles, grabbed a place under cover out on the terrace that overlooks the brew-house down below. A bit later on we queued up again, this time for the lunchtime special of roast pork (with crackling), plus potato salad. I must admit I was feeling a bit "porked out" from the night before, but at only 3.8 Euro's a throw this meal was too much of a bargain to miss. Resisting the temptation of the Doppelbock Dunkel, and plumping instead for some more Spezial Helles, it was soon time to leave. This time we caught an MVV bus back to Herrsching and were able to use our Partner-Tageskarte for the return journey.
We stopped off for an obligatory look at Ammersee lake, plus a refreshing ice-cream (it had stopped raining by then), before catching the train back into Munich. Our visit proved, once again, that come rain or shine a trip out to the Holy Mountain is an experience not to be missed!