The image of the beer drinking monk is iconic and a well-used one in Bavaria. Who could resist a chubby man in a robe guzzling beer from a liter-sized ceramic mug. It’s certainly understandable that breweries which are no longer monasteries but have a history of being one may try to hide this inconvenient truth. I think everyone knows that Paulaner in Munich is no longer religiously affiliated despite a monk being on their labels but others exist which are less obvious.
the iconic beer imbibing monk & Kloster Scheyern
One which I understood to be in this category is Kloster Scheyern which dates back to 1119, making it the third oldest brewery in Germany. Unfortunately, a deterioration of their equipment led to a gradual shifting of brewing to Hasen-Bräu in Augsburg which began in the 1960s and became complete in 1991 when monastic brewing completely ceased. So, I naturally didn’t put much effort into making my way out there over the years. Their beers are readily available in Munich supermarkets and despite their being perfectly good examples of their styles, I never felt a need to venture there when I lived in Munich briefly in 2004. Thankfully, the monks came to their senses, perhaps realizing there’s money to be made in the whole monks-brewing thing. In 2005, they renovated the brewery and reopened it, albeit on a small scale. The beers you see outside of the monastery are indeed still brewed by Hasen-Bräu in Augsburg but those served on the premises are brewed onsite once again. To be honest, I was living in the States and this news didn’t exactly hit the front pages so it went very much without my notice.
the renovated Brauhaus at Kloster Scheyern
When I moved back to Munich in 2010, I soon found this out and made my way out to the monastery for the first time with friends who had a car. We did a short hike circumnavigating the grounds and enjoyed a fine meal afterwards in the brewery’s Biergarten.
the first time at Kloster Sheyern was a success
While there, I noticed a sign with all their seasonal beers and the one that caught my eye was a Maibock, an ever increasingly rare find. I went back a few months later to enjoy it and used the bus for the first time. It was oddly cool for April so I sat inside their cozy Bräustüberl. This being in the heart of the hops growing region, it was appropriately adorned with them. Sadly, the Maibock was only available from the bottle but was quite good nonetheless.
Enjoying the cozy interior with their Maibock in Krug
When researching my book Beer Hiking Bavaria, I wanted to include some hikes close to Munich and this one came immediately to mind. I’d done the small circuit but needed to redo it to gather the hike’s profile and provide detailed directions. The buses only go during the week so I started to look for a hike to the monastery and discovered that it was unsurprisingly on the St. James Way as many monasteries in Bavaria are. Since the circuit was short, I decided to include this as it would make a weekend visit possible without a car. Trains to Pfaffenhofen are very regular and it’s a short trip from Munich.
a stroll through Pfaffenhofen starts it off before heading into the countryside
The walk out was pretty straightforward and certainly pleasant on the sunny day I’d chosen. What it lacked in spectacular scenery, it made up for in being on the route of pilgrims on the way to a brewing monastery.
the pleasant route to Kloster Sheyern
I was hungry after the walk, the sun was shining and the Biergarten calling but I popped into the open Baroque church first as I know well things like that are bound to be closed later if you don’t take advantage of it.
a quick pit stop in the church
Finally, I headed over to the Biergarten and enjoyed a much deserved plate of Schweinebraten washed down with their marvelous Dunkles. This was my chosen beer to feature for the hike due to its fine mix of chocolate malt and light but unmistakable hops. This is after all, hop country. Unfortunately, it was spring and the areas in which they grow were bare. Such are the drawbacks of deadlines but if you can time your hike for mid-summer, you’ll be treated to endless views of hops.
a well-deserved meal & beer
It would have been easy to drink a few more of their beers and wait for the bus but I was “working” and a hiking circuit still needed to be completed so I set off to walk off my lunch, gather some data and snap some photos.
the circuit around Kloster Sheyern
It was a perfect day for walking and I was back at the brewery in no time, leaving me with a few options. Having a beer and waiting for the bus sounded like the best one but I decided to hike a different route back to Pfaffenhofen, forsaking that beer. It appeared I was working after all, though about half-way back I questioned my decision if not sanity. If I were you, I’d either book a room at the Kloster Hotel or wait for that bus. Sure, you can get a Kloster Sheyern Dunkles at a store in Munich but it’s not the one brewed here. Which one is better? There’s only one way to find out.
Kloster Sheyern lies in Upper Bavaria (Oberbayern in German). There are 14 hikes in this region in my book Beer Hiking Bavaria along with another 36 from all over Bavaria. Each includes detailed descriptions of the hikes as well as information on the breweries along the routes plus some tasting notes on my favorite beers at each establishment.