Although the primary attraction of the bike tour was to learn about hops and hops culture, there were also breweries, beers, and more along the way in the Hallertau. I can easily imagine serious bike touring folks looking at my itinerary and judging it to be rookie stuff in biker terms. But I don’t think of it as simple or easy when you look at the whole picture. Searching out and visiting thirteen breweries, a distillery, three beer festivals, two museums, and numerous biergartens enroute added to the challenge. And then there were all the scenic vistas demanding to be photographed and the cool beers that beckoned to be sampled. It was a busy and rewarding five day ride.
The infrastructure for biking was quite good in this area. It was typical to be riding on a paved or fine graveled pathway separate from auto traffic. Signage was plentiful and well placed to provide confidence of the correct direction. When I was on a road with cars, it tended to be a low traffic route. Towns are villages are every few miles so services were fequently available.
Click on any image in the galleries below to see it larger, see captions, and open a scrollable slide show view of all of the images.
Breweries and Beers on Route in the Hallertau
There were many opportunities for excellent beers along the way. The Hallertau is on the periphery of Munich, so Munich breweries were heavily represented at gasthauses and biergartens. But there are also quite a few excellent smaller breweries to be found in the region. A favorite of mine was Urban Chestnut. Urban Chestnut is a sister operation with a brewery of the same name in St. Louis, Missouri in the U.S.A. The brewmaster/owner grew up in Wolznach and co-founded the St. Louis brewery. They brew a range of excellent traditional Bavarian brews in Wolznach as well as some international styles. As you might expect, the beers in the Hallertau put the local hops to great use.
I also tried to visit the Lutzenberger shop and distillery in Mainburg but found they were on vacation when I arrived. They make an intriguing Hops liqueur and use their liqueurs in making fine chocolates and confections. Hallertauer Hopfengold, or hops schnapps as I came to call it, is a deliciously floral concoction with a subtle bitter, warming, spicy afterglow (many thanks to my friend Steve for pegging the adjectives). At 112 proof it packs a nice kick. They also make a variety of other liqueurs and a hops vodka.
One of the particularly enjoyable beers along the way came after a long, hot stretch on the bike at the Landgasthaus Kirzinger in Mitterstetten. I had ridden over to Horneck to check out the Brauerei Stempfhuber there but there was no tap room or public outlet. I had spotted the gasthaus on a hops farm in nearby Mitterstetten — as luck had it they were closed to prepare for a beer tasting event but the proprietor took mercy on my thirst so I was able to quench it with a Hornecker Helles and taste a couple of the other beers they were queueing up for the event served by biersommelier and family member Andreas Kirzinger.
Beautiful Landscapes, Interesting Towns, and Local Festivals along the way
Pfaffenhofen, Wolnzach, Au, Mainberg, Siegenburg, Abensberg, and Kloster Weltenberg were all picturesque towns on the route. Part one of the series details the Hopfazupfa-Jahrtag festival at Kloster Scheyern but I also encoutered the annual Hallertauer Volkfest in Wolnzach and the annual Burgerfest in Siegenburg along the way. I’ll let photos tell the story of visiting these places.
The Hand Knows
I love off-beat attractions and The Museum of the Hand (Das Museum der Kulturgeschichte der Hand) in Wolnzach proved irresistible. Located right next door to the Urban Chestnut Brewery, a series of pointing fingers leads through a series of hallways and stairwells to the gallery. A local resident collected the 800+ exhibits that include coins, ancient literature, stamps, toys, artworks, jewelry, and other artifacts all of which relate to the hand. A favorite exhibit of mine is of a knight’s prosthetic hand from the middle ages that allowed him to return to the battle field.