While my preferred beer wandering is in Franconia, I do live in Munich and with so much great hiking south of town, it’s where I tend to go on day trips. As you might imagine, there are breweries down there and while, for me, they are not generally on a par with my faves to the north, there is no shortage of quite decent beer and more than a few quite good ones.
colorful murals adorn traditional houses in Oberammergau
One town many tourists might find themselves in is Oberammergau. Most famous for The Passion Play, it’s a charming little town even when the once a decade big show is not running. With Lüftlmalerei, colorful murals depicting village life, on many of the old traditional buildings, one could be content to just wander around town. That said, the setting of the valley is more than equally stunning and if so inclined, a hike into the surrounding hills would reap you fine rewards.
surrounding valley and murals of Oberammergau
While there is a new-ish brewpub in Oberammergau itself and the beer is actually pretty good and worth checking out if spending the night or have a hour to kill, ….
Ammergauer Maxbräu in Oberammergau
the monastic brewery in nearby Ettal is one of the main attractions in the area, even for the non-beery wanderer for its impressive grounds and stunning Baroque church with colorful frescoes adorning the interior dome. It’s in excellent shape and one way to pay for all the upkeep is brewing beers, which the monks have been doing since 1609.
Impressive Kloster Ettal, inside and out
There are many hikes in the area but I will describe two that make a stop at the Kloster nearly mandatory. Conveniently, they are of quite different difficulties so something for everyone.
The harder of the two hikes is a circuit that starts and finishes in Ettal, making a well-deserved meal possible on your return. It’s a little over 12 km with an elevation gain/loss of a bit more than 1100 meters.
That’s not a stroll in the park but you will be rewarded with fine views of the surrounding peaks, as well as the Kloster itself. It’s a ridge walk of sorts passing a few overlooks en route to the main peak, the Notkarspitze.
Views of the monastery on the way to the ridge are pretty good, too
Alternatively, you can just go to the Ochsenitz for a passable view of the Kloster and a bit further to the Ziegelspitz for quite a good one. The first stop would be a third the distance and maybe half the elevation change. If doing the full hike, allow six hours to the hike with no breaks and what’s nice is you can always turn around and return the way you came.
Views of the monastery from the Ziegelspitz & the peak’s cross
The easier hike is one that stays more in the pretty valley with a few moderately steep sections which afford nice views of the Kloster, too. You can start in Oberammergau or Ettal. It’s 13 km and picks up a modest 160 meters.
You should allow 3.5 hours with no stops and if pressed for time, you can half the hike by walking either from Oberammergau to Ettal or Ettal to Oberammergau, returning with a bus. Be sure to know your time tables and always best to do such things early in the day.
Nice views after even a slight climb behind the monastery
Aesthetically, I like walking to Ettal and enjoying a meal there before returning but go with the flow of the buses, depending on your time slot! There is also a “kneippanlage,” best taken advantage of after a long walk.
Kneippanlage and views of the monastery from the trail to Oberammergau
No matter how you do it or which hike you choose, the end result is a visit to Kloster Ettal. After enjoying the church, you have a few choices of places to enjoy a meal and a Kloster Ettal beer. The Kloster Hotel has a rustic traditional Bavarian restaurant, which serves up hearty meals and the brewery’s noted Dunkles on tap.
Kloster Hotel & Ettaler Dunkles
I had a Farmer’s Plate, a hearty mix of roast pork, smoked ham and bratwurst with a dumpling and sauerkraut washed down with their signature dark brew. My wife opted for Tafelspitze, a pot roast type meal in a creamy horseradish sauce. We were enjoying ourselves so purposely missed our bus to have their Kaiserschmarrm, a rich pancake type dessert that went with their Curator, a fair Dopplebock. Waiting for the bus as the sun started to set was actually really nice so we were glad we’d stayed longer.
counterclockwise: farmer’s plate, Tafelspitz and Kaiserschmarrm
I went down again to sample their Maibock and unfortunately, the the Kloster Hotel didn’t have it even though May would be the traditional time for a Hellebock. Though I quite like the restaurant, I don’t think they promote their seasonal beers enough, seeming to rely on what most people are likely to order. I thankfully found it across the street at Cafe Edelweisse and when I realized its outdoor seating was more conveniently on the sunny side of the street, decided to have a meal there.
sunny Cafe Edelweisse
It was a massive plate of Leberkäse topped with two fried eggs and served with potato salad. The Maibock was quite tasty, too. It’s good to have another option in Ettal, in case I’m looking for a seasonal, or just want to sit in the sun!
Leberkäse with friend eggs and potato salad with my much sought Maibock!
If going to this region and planning on drinking beer, it’s best to travel with the Bavaria Ticket. It’s very economical, especially if traveling in small groups. From Munich, it’s a little less than two hours to Oberammergau with a switch in Murnau, another cute town with two fine breweries of its own (Karg and Griesbräu, but that’s another blog!). If you are going to Ettal directly, you’ll switch in Oberau and it’s about 90 minutes. Please check DB’s very useful site, available in English for exact connections and times.
1 Ammergauer Maxbräu
Ettaler Str. 5
Pricey food and beer but
worth a stop for a beer if
2 Kloster Hotel Ludwig der Bayer
Pricey hotel but restaurant is
quite reasonable and down to
3 Cafe Edelweisse
Inexpensive option across
from Kloster Hotel with
Kloster Ettal beers on tap.