Andechs Abbey, Dießen and Herrsching in Southern Bavaria, Germany

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Throwback Tuesday Post (TBTP): Every Tuesday, I re-post a past post that I think is relevant and that you’ll enjoy.

This post was originally published on April 22, 2015 and updated on April 2, 2019.

Seems the theme of this spring’s outings have been waterfront-related. A few weeks before my trip to Chiemsee, we visited the famous Andechs Abbey, situated between two lakes just about an hour southwest of Munich by car.

The abbey is occupied now by Benedictine monks, but it started out about a thousand years ago as a castle for the Andechs-Meranian family. Apparently a certain Count Rosso, progenitor of the that family, brought back pieces of Jesus’ crown of thorns, cross and other artifacts from the Holy Land.

Although the original castle and chapel have been destroyed and the church rebuilt a couple of times, the relic treasure resides at the church today. The church and monastery stand on top the high hill known as the Holy Mountain, tended by the Benedictines. The church is the oldest pilgrimage destination in Bavaria, which means devotees make an annual pilgrimage through the countryside on foot here on a certain date each year.

The Holy Mountain lies between two lakes, Ammersee and Starnbergersee. It was in the Starnbergersee that King Ludwig II was drowned – he was the one who built Herrenchiemsee that I blogged about last week.

My husband and I have had the famous Andechser beer in Munich on a few occasions, and we’d been wanting to visit the monastery for some time now. The traveling options were threefold: bus tour, driving by car, or a trip by public transport train to a station about three kilometers (almost two miles) from which we’d have to hike a trail uphill to the monastery.

The bus tour didn’t appeal and driving was iffy because, well, beer. We were mentally preparing ourselves for that three-kilometer hike, but then we mentioned the trip to our good friends Christiane and Dean. You’ll remember Christiane as the one who taught me how to make Spätzle. To our delight, Christiane offered to drive, so we all set out on a road trip one Saturday.

The advantage of having a local show you around is that you get to see places you don’t know about. Since Christiane is from the area, she took us to the little town of Dießen on the Ammersee before we visited Andechs. Her family used to visit there every summer when she was a child.

First stop was this extraordinarily beautiful church, Marienmünster, a baroque marvel dating from the 1700s.

We moved onto a little district near the water with charming little cafes and fishmongers:


Then we visited a waterside rec area:

You could see Andechs on the Holy Mountain across the water from here. Although we were temped to spend all day in Dießen, we tore ourselves away and drove to the abbey.

It was quite the tourist area, with a large parking lot with bus parking. We walked the short distance uphill from the car, passing the requisite beer garden and other curiosities on the way.

 

We reached the top of the hill and found the very crowded, official Andechs watering hole. We stopped there for much-needed refreshment:

That tall Australian in the gray hat is Dean. Notice our view!

Presently we made our way up the hill to the abbey church:

I love the sundials painted on buildings in Europe:

Andechs Abbey was much smaller than Marienmünster, but possibly more ornate. There was a choir practicing in the loft. This was Palm Sunday weekend, so all the holy things were draped in purple in observance of Lent.

Here’s the view from atop the Holy Mountain:
And here’s the trail we would have travelled to come to the abbey had we taken Option 3 I mentioned earlier (an almost-two-mile hike from a train station):
I think we made the right choice!
After perusing the Holy Mountain, it was time to be on our way. Again, Christiane came through with her local knowledge and took us to another little lakeside village called Herrsching. Since we still had some of that beautiful sunshine left, we strolled the waterside and sat in the golden light for a while, watching the people enjoy the nice weather.
 There was a little castle there which you could rent for parties or weddings, I think.

As the sun sank, so did the temperatures. Christiane and I fled into the Seehof restaurant you see here (also my future hotel, if I get my wish)…
…while the guys toughed it out by the water to finish their drinks before joining us.

The meal was delicious. For dessert we had one of my favorite specialties, Kaiserschmarrn, a kind of chopped pancake with raisins, eaten with apple sauce or vanilla sauce. This place served it flambe’ style! (Yes, the table cloth is on fire, too.)

After dinner we had to make our way back home, tired but happy. It was a great outing on a wonderful day with good friends. It just doesn’t get any better than that!

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Avery Brewing Co. in Gunbarrel, Boulder County, Colorado

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As I’ve said before, you can’t swing a cat in Colorado without hitting a local brewery. This time, I swung the cat and hit Avery Brewing Company. I google-mapped breweries in the area; Avery was the closest one that I hadn’t visited yet. My husband, who doesn’t have to have his arm twisted to try a new brewery, drove us to the so-called Gunbarrel area of Boulder County. Gunbarrel is an unincorporated area of around 6 square miles and about 10,000 residents. What we saw on the way was lots of agricultural land and many farms. I’m sure there’s more to it, but we made a beeline to the brewery and didn’t see much more than that.

The building was impressive, with a blindingly-white exterior. I like the embossed logo on the corner. They, of course, have an outdoor area, which was rather sparsely populated. It was just a tad too cool for outdoors that day.

Gotta love the lobby signage:

You can also see the barrel room through a window in the lobby:

I also liked the barrel-slat chandeliers there:

The other part of the ground level has a dining area, but most of it is used for the brewery proper. In fact, both levels have a dining area. The big taproom is upstairs, though.

Avery was established in 1993, just at the beginning of the craft brewery craze in the US. They operated in limited space for a few years then moved into what the website describes as their “dream brewery” in 2015. This increased their capacity by about double. Hence, you can find Avery beer far afield. Just enter your zipcode on their website and it will tell you where to find it. I plugged in my former Florida zipcode and found three places nearby.

By the way, they are not technically a craft brewery anymore because a large Spanish brewery is now an investor. However, they still specialize in a long list of unusual, inventive beers. Here’s only ONE of the chalkboard menus we saw that day:

I have to admit that I am not as much enamored of the beers there as at other places. However, their KITCHEN! Last visit (yes, there’s been more than one) I had pozole, cornbread and a cobb salad:

My husband had the Rascal salad and gumbo:

The food there is really good and always has a unique, delicious twist to it. In talking to our server, we learned that the former location used a nearby catering company to provide food, but they made a point of having a large kitchen and capable staff at the new place. Mission accomplished!

We got a free Avery decal with our check that day – sort of looks like “Roll Tide”, if you know what that means!

Next to the taproom is a gift shop…

…with rows of bottled brew for sale…

…and gear:

Just off the gift shop is a door that leads to a walkway above the brewery operations. You can take a self-guided tour and watch the brewers do their thing down below. I could swear I took pictures from the walkway that day, but I’ll be darned if I can find them. Too much Avery brew? Oh well, I will post them at a later date. I’m quite sure I’ll be returning to Avery to try something else off their menu!

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Odell Brewing Company Tour, Ft. Collins, Colorado

Just down the road from New Belgium Brewing, which I told you about last week, is the Odell Brewing Company. That’s where I want to take you this week. It looks just as inviting as New Belgium, and they have a free tour, too.

Their bike racks are shaped like hops:

And I wasn’t kidding – Odell is literally less than a mile from New Belgium. I’d seen Odell beer in local establishments, and I spotted the brewery on our way to New Belgium last trip. My husband and I headed to Odell a couple of weeks ago four their tour, mainly because we’d recently bought a growler from New Belgium. I Amazoned a cover for it so no one would know it was off brand!

If you don’t know what a growler is, here’s the scoop: it’s basically a giant bottle, which usually holds about 64 ounces, or a little over five 12-ounce bottles. It has a stopper or top that prevents the beer from going flat. Breweries will gladly fill your growler from the tap for a little less than those five beers would cost. People use growlers for water and other liquids, too. Beer will stay fresh in the growler for two or three days, depending on how often you open it.

I didn’t really know what a growler was until I moved here, but this place is lousy with local breweries and I learned a lot of beer culture fast. No one is 100% sure why it’s called a growler, but there are several theories. I don’t really believe any of them, but I do like the name ‘growler’. We have the aforementioned insulated, stainless-steel growler from New Belgium and also a 70-ounce glass one from Gordon Biersch. I love the way the glass one looks – very Old-World – but it’s not insulated.

Anyway, we showed up at Odell around 2pm one afternoon. The first thing you see right inside the door is the gift shop – love some of their gear!

The place was very crowded, but the order line moved quickly.

We ordered a couple of flights. Here’s the Classic Tray:

We managed to get in on the last brewery tour of the day at 3pm. A very fast-talking employee took us upstairs to the vats:

Seriously, he talked so fast I could hardly understand him! He also led us around the aging, bottling and warehouse areas:

I was kinda disappointed in the tour. It was only supposed to last 30 minutes, and it ended about then. But the guide talked SO FAST that it was hard to keep up. Also, they didn’t give you any beer til the end, and then it was only one. We skipped that part. I think we were spoiled by the four-beer, 90-minute tour down the road a few weeks prior. If I had any advice for them to improve the tour, I’d say give people a beer or two before or during the tour and either cut down on the vast amount of information given by the guide or extend the tour duration so there is time to enjoy the information given.

But the people were very friendly and seemed to enjoy working there. The service was good. Their grounds are pleasant and you can bring your dog. The beer was good and the tour was free. You can join tours daily at noon, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm, and you can sign up for them online. They have a great website, too! I would put them second on my list after New Belgium for beer taste and ambiance. Odell is worth checking out!

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Tour New Belgium Brewery in Ft. Collins, Colorado, and Drink Fat Tire Beer

At the suggestion of pretty much everybody we’ve met since moving to Colorado, we drove an hour north of Denver to Ft. Collins to visit the New Belgium Brewery and take the free tour there. You probably have heard of Fat Tire beer, which is New Belgium’s flagship craft brew. If you want to know the difference between a craft brewery and a larger one, check out my Coors Brewery Tour post.

We really should have signed up for the New Belgium tour online, which the website encourages visitors to do. But we happened to be more or less in the neighborhood and showed up before opening on a Sunday morning. I love going places to photograph on Sunday mornings because generally there are very few people around to get in my shots. Same was true that day, and the weather was perfect to boot!

There couldn’t be a more inviting outdoor area at this place.

There were games and tables, even fire pits for cold weather. We’ve been back when it was very cold outside, and the fire pits were very useful!

That first Sunday, though, the very friendly staff welcomed us onto the tour without any hesitation. The free tour lasts about 90 minutes and, during that time, a knowledgeable staff member walks you through and around the complex. Best part: you get four free beers, although one of them is sort of undrinkable. More on that later.

Anyway, inside the taproom are two very large rooms and the bar, of course.

The company is employee-owned and, therefore, you are not allowed to tip!

First up on the tour, a trip up the stairs to some of the brewing vats and the first of the free beers (there are elevators for those who can’t navigate the stairs, btw). Here you can see the upstairs bar and jars with samples of malt and hops used during the tour:

I snapped this shot of one of the labs through a locked door on our way down a hallway:

One warehouse area is devoted to brewing sour beer, which is aged in wooden barrels. The sour taste actually comes from the wood of the barrels:

Sour beer was one of the four free beers on the tour. Can’t say I fell in love with it, but it was interesting. I’d never heard of it before, despite the tour guide saying it was a big health thing in Europe. Maybe in Belgium. Most of the tour participants left their sour beer behind as we made our way to the next area.

Here are more shots of the tour:

The artwork inside the buildings was very interesting, too. Here are some examples:

Also, there was a room which seemed to me like a rental hall or conference room in which there was a big art exhibit on display. All the artwork was made from skateboards:

New Belgium was founded by Jeff Lebesch, an American who studied beer brewing in Belgium then began making beer in his basement. It became so popular that he and his wife went commercial. New Belgium now ships their beer nationwide and they’ve recently opened a second brewery in Ashville, NC.

The founders are bicycle enthusiasts, which is where the name Fat Tire came from. In fact, each employee-owner receives their very own fat tire bike on their one-year workiversary. There was a rack of them behind the brewery, the telltale sign that the employee-owners actually ride them to work. You could see that each year has its own special model. Here are a few of them:

Out back was a small garden of hops, much like the German hops fields I posted for you a couple of years ago:

A very interesting item outside, too, was a demo of solar power, which the brewery uses as much as it can. They are very green and contribute to environmental causes. This solar artwork was made of circular metal disks that rotated using solar energy. The guide stood one of the tour members in front of the piece, thus blocking the light, and it stopped rotating.

We toured lots more of the complex than I can post here. They even have a new, on-site health center with full-time healthcare professionals on duty.

Back inside, the guide explained that it was a tradition to slide down their spiral slide at the end of the tour. I think the guide said it was a European thing, but I’d never heard of it. I did find some pictures online of brewery slides in Los Angeles and Plano, TX, plus one in New Belgium’s new place in Ashville. The mention of some slides in Germany were at grain mills, which makes sense that they could slide bags of grain down it better than schlepping them downstairs. In any case, I slid. After four beers, what else would I do?

Make no mistake, that is NOT me in the photo above!

After our tour, we bought a couple more beers and snacked on some delicious food from one of the food trucks on site that day: Corn Doggies. Especially good were the beet fries, for which I got the recipe from the nice lady. Also, the corn dogs are house-made and organic!

Another big feature of New Belgium is that they are very dog-friendly, as is common in Colorado. I met several people there with their dogs. And people seem to make pilgrimages to the place. Not only is the beer excellent, but the atmosphere is great, too. Reminds me of a German Biergarten in that regard. They even have a gift shop with branded t-shirts, mugs, hoodies and growlers.

So, if you can’t tell, you have my highest recommendation about this place! Maybe we should move closer to it. I’ll keep you posted.

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Coors Brewery Tour in Golden, Colorado

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This week, I bring you the Coors Brewery Tour in Golden, Colorado. It’s a free tour of the world-famous beer producer. Coors, well, technically, Molson Coors now, was founded way back in 1873 by German immigrant Adolph Coors. It’s the world’s largest single brewery facility today, though they have many other locations around the country.

I’d done the tour back in the 90s, and it has changed considerably. Back then, the tour guide led you through the actual factory. This time around the tour was more sequestered from the actual factory workings, but they had built up some beautiful displays along the new corridors from which you can see the factory procedures through well-placed windows.

Our tour guide:

For those of you old enough, they even have a Smokey and the Bandit display in the lobby now:

You can also see the malt roasting room:

Some labs:

Brewing vats:

And lots of machines and assembly lines:

Action shot:

Finally, at the end of the tour, the doorway we were all waiting for: the lounge.

Here, you get three free beers. Back in the 90s, you only got one. Progress!

Choose three from the menu in the attractive and very busy bar area:

My favorite photo of the tour:

At the shuttle bus stop after the tour (and the free beers) we could see the giant white “M” on the mountain in the distance. It’s been there since about 1907; it’s the emblem for the local Colorado School of Mines, which offers bachelors degrees in metallurgy, engineering and other areas related to mining. Colorado is all about the geology.

And the white “M”? Well, each year all the freshmen bring a 10-pound rock from their hometown. One weekend near the beginning of the school year, they paint all the rocks white and carry them up the mountain on a Saturday morning. They add all the rocks to the “M”, which keeps it fresh and very big. It’s even lit up at night with LEDs. I really like that for a college tradition.

Anyway, as I said before, the Coors tour is free. You just show up at the tour bus parking lot, board the next available shuttle bus and ride to the brewery for the tour. (Back in the 90s, we rolled right up to the front door and walked in, but that’s changed.) At times, like weekends and summer, it can be quite crowded, and, thus, there’s a wait. But if you go early, especially on a weekday, you can get right in.

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