Sometimes hiking in the rain is inevitable and on this summer day, it resulted in some wet, boggy beer hiking – some of it on the Murnau Moos. Heading south on the train from Munich the rain was pounding down and streaking across the big glass windows of my coach. I started digging into the old rucksack for my poncho and umbrella. Those don’t come out often, but I don’t mind always having them along.
A Wet Morning on the Gögerlburg
When I departed the train at Weilheim, a stop along the Munich-Garmisch-Partenkirchen railway route the rain had slowed but remained steady. Weilheim is an old walled town that dates back to Roman times when it was a stop along the route called “Via Raetia” that connected Rome with Augsburg. The Romans were eventually chased back south by the Bavarians in the late fifth century AD. Weilheim sits at the foot of the Gögerlburg, a small, legendary mountain that I had targeted for a hike on a route called the Gögerlrunde.
There is a legend of the Gögerlburg that goes something like this – there was once a nun named Rosalia at the nearby Wessobrunn monastery, a sister of the local ruler, who didn’t really want to be a nun anymore. She escaped the monastery through a secret passage to Gögerl Castle on the mountain where she lived out her remaining days during the 1200’s. Her spirit is said to inhabit the mountain still. According to local legend, she was often seen walking around the ruins of the castle in a white dress with long flowing hair, and she became known as the Gögerlfräulein. You go girl! The castle is long gone and only an archaeological site remains.
There is a pleasant-looking terrace on the side of the Gogerlberg that must offer great views of the Bavarian Alps on a clear day, but it was of no use to me in the rain. I slogged back into Weilheim for a stop at Weilheim’s lone remaining brewery – Dachsbräu. Founded in 1879 by a Munich brewer named Georg Dachs it started by producing brown beer and wheat beer. Today, Dachsbrau turns out a traditional range of Bavarian styles including an award-winning Festbier. For me, it was a respite from the rain and a place to enjoy a warm bowl of soup, rough bread, and a tasty brew.
Staffelsee to the Murnau Moos Loop Hike
Another short train ride brought me to Murnau am Staffelsee an ancient, small town just north of the alpine hamlet of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Staffelsee is a peaceful lake below the town to the west that is separated from the Murnau Moos by a prominent ridgeline called the Moosberg. A dead-end train spur travels west from the town to Oberammergau.
So are you wondering yet what the Murnau Moos is? The word “moos” in this context translates to ‘marsh”. The Murnau Moos is one of the largest marshlands of its kind in Europe, covering roughly twelve square miles. It encompasses many streams and drainages, is home to a huge diversity of flora and fauna, and is managed as a nature preserve. The route I chose followed the lakeshore before climbing over the ridgeline and heading back into Murnau along a panoramic trail overlooking the Murnau Moos. This is beautiful country, even in the rain.
Murnau is a pretty little town with a cobblestoned main street. There are two breweries here. Karg is a brewery on the main street that has specialized in brewing a small range of weissbiers since its inception in 1912. It is now a fourth-generation family operation. Unfortunately for me, I was there during their vacation week, so I had to settle for lugging a bottle of their beer with me back to Munich to give it a try.
In 2015 then-President Barrack Obama visited and was treated by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to frühschoppen – a traditional morning beer and snack of weisswurst and pretzels while they were plotting the world’s future. The beer served for the occasion was a Karg Weizen. Obama reportedly commented, “It was a very fine beer. I wish I was staying.” I can relate.
Griesbräu dates back to at least 1836 although the brewery is said to have been there under a different name as early as the 1600’s. They have an attractive pub/restaurant in a repurposed vaulted cellar space. When I was there, it was kind of like a cafeteria with a serving line where you could pick and choose what you wanted to eat and collect a table flag so the servers would know where to bring it when it was ready. They offer an interesting range including traditional styles along with specialty brown (“Bruno”) and red (“Drachenblut”) beers seasonally.
Griesbrau offers some fun-sounding event features for groups that caught my attention. For instance, they host a “Suckling Pig Spectacle” that features crispy roasted pork knuckles served with steaming dumplings or “Spätzle” (a kind of noodles), red cabbage and white cabbage salad. Yum. Groups can also arrange for their “Bierbrunnen”, an ancient-looking wall fountain set up to pour self-service beer.