With visits to 26 breweries, a hop farm, and a malt house, 18 homebrewers from North America were lucky to experience the incredible beer culture of Bavaria firsthand during BYO’s Brewery and Hiking Adventure in mid-September, 2023. The week was filled with unique beer experiences including going back to school with a lecture on yeast from the head of the university brewing program at Weihenstephan and touring their teaching brewery before heading next door to tour and taste at their large commercial brewery. We also had the opportunity to taste fresh tank samples poured by the brewmasters at world-class breweries Ayinger and Schlenkerla while they answered brewing questions from the group.
From Bamberg’s famous rauchbiers to the wonderful unfiltered kellerbiers of the countryside to crystal-clear helles in Munich, it was a special chance to enjoy so many classics at the source at both small and larger breweries. And the local brewers we visited enjoyed sharing their tips with the group of homebrewers on the keys to brewing the styles that make this region so famous.
Each day we hiked to different breweries starting in the Munich area and working our way north to the Franconian city of Bamberg. During our hikes we visited several monastery breweries and small, local breweries where the only place you could enjoy their beer was onsite at their biergarten. It was a treat to walk through Munich visiting both traditional breweries such as Augustiner as well as the new wave of small craft breweries pushing the beer limits. We hiked along the ruins of an ancient Celtic wall in the middle of a beautiful forest to emerge looking across the Danube River at Kloster Weltenburg with their famous dunkel and doppelbock waiting for us. We even spent an evening sleeping only a few floors above a small brewery in a village where swans and beer trucks made up most of the morning traffic.
The group also got up close and personal with local brewing ingredients known worldwide during the week-long trip. We saw hops being harvested, processed, and kilned at a small family-owned hop farm in the famed Hallertau region and also had a tour of Weyermann Specialty Malts in Bamberg, visiting the germination beds and drum roasters that produce the backbone of wonderful beers brewed around the world.
All that beer had lots of hearty Bavarian food served alongside, giving plenty of fuel for hiking to the next stop. We enjoyed multi-course beer-paired dinners, pork and beef in every form during biergarten lunches, pretzels at every stop, and also wonderful weisswurst sausages for breakfast.
We were warmly welcomed by all those we met from the local beer industry. It was a week made all the more special by sharing it with fellow homebrewers passionate about beer and exploring the incredible cities, countryside, and beer culture of Bavaria and Franconia.
All three BYO trips scheduled for 2024 (Czech Republic; Bend, Oregon; and Ireland) are sold out. A list of upcoming trips is at byo.com/trip. We hope that you can join us on a future adventure. Prost!