How to follow the Pilgrim’s Way to Monastic Beer Heaven

While Munich has tons to keep even the most well-traveled busy, there’s something about getting out into the countryside and away from the mass of tourists that the town attracts which will leave you smiling knowingly. What makes this even more attractive is just how close the countryside is to the center. Small towns with big charm abound and most have trails emanating from them that will bring you out into nature, often with views of the Alps looming. One such place is Kaufbeuren, a mere hour away.

lovely Kaufbeuren

There are plenty of places to have a meal or beverage in the quaint town center but there’s no denying that going for an invigorating walk gets the appetite going and anyone acquainted with beer hiking knows a beer tastes best after you’ve earned it. Besides, you’ll see sights you’d miss otherwise.

alps with horses

views of the Alps from just outside Kaufbeuren

Walking in the footsteps of religious pilgrims is not only a way to get in touch with your spiritual side but also offers a glimpse into the past and when it leads to a beery paradise, it’s hard to argue with making the effort to get to places you may have never even heard of before, like the former monastic brewery Kloster Irsee. The 7.5 km/5.5 mile trail will take you out into the Bavarian countryside with view of the Alps and rural life of simpler times.

some views of the trail and of Kaufbeuren with the Alps as a backdrop

The trail isn’t difficult but has some ups and downs as you’d expect in the foothills of the Alps. Of course, in winter it is a bit more challenging but as long as you have proper footwear and are dressed warmly, it’s nice to get out and enjoy the elements en route to a cozy old world pub.

snowy trail in winter to the cozy brewpub in Irsee

Kloster Irsee has a long and storied past. The grounds are pretty and peaceful and it’s hard to fathom that part of its history is a dark stint as a mental institution where Nazi-era experiments and euthanasia were performed on patients. Memorials and assorted plaques act as a reminder of this period though you need to stroll to the back of the grounds to find them.

the pretty and peaceful grounds of Kloster Irsee

Following your hike and a stroll around the grounds, it’s time for a hearty meal and a beer to celebrate. While the average tourist might not know much about this place, Bavarians do so don’t be surprised to find the restaurant full. Their food is much beloved as it the Kloster Urtrunk, an unfiltered Kellerbier brewed according to an old monastic recipe.

a beer (and some tasty food) worth the walk!

For more details on the hike out to Kloster Irsee and the brewery there, please consult my book Beer Hiking Bavaria. It details 50 hikes and breweries from all over Bavaria.

I first went to Kloster Irsee in 1997 and rediscovered it while researching my book. If you’d like a guided hike on the Pilgrim’s Way to Kloster Irsee, check out my tours below.

Public Tours are open so you can join other travelers/Private Tours are closed so you or your group have it reserved for yourselves.

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