Photo courtesy of sanfamedia on Flickr.
Andechs Monastery (Kloster Andechs in German) is not only famous for its pilgrimage and praying, but also for its beer and is home to some of the best beer in Germany.
Perhaps that shouldn’t be surprising when you consider that the Benedictine monks have had over 900 years of beer brewing practice. Monks used to brew the beer and survived on it during the 40 days of fasting during Lent, although the brewery itself just dates back to 1455.
The forested path and part of the pilgrimage to Andechs.
Inside the elaborate church
Andechs Hill, now home to the Andechs Monastery, has been a pilgrimage since the 10th century where worshipers came to see Christian relics, most notably a piece of Jesus’ crown of thorns, which is still on display today in the church. While bus transportation is available, I would recommend following in the footsteps of the pilgrims. Starting in the Bavarian town of Herrsching and well signed, the path soon leads to a forested path and a little over an hour later we had reached our destination.
The Rococo and baroque style church was our first stop, and very ornate, and worth a visit in-itself, but admittedly not the real reason we came to Andechs. After a quick stop at the religious souvenir and beer filled gift shop, we were off to the 3500 person beer garden. Proof that not all the beer drinking action just happens at Oktoberfest.
My friend enjoying a pint of the famous Andechser Doppelbock Dunkel and a Bavarian donut.
Andechs is famous for its beer, especially its Andechser Doppelbock Dunkel, a heavy dark beer that’s sure to put hair on your chest (you’ve been warned) with an alcohol content of 7.1%. If you’re not a dark beer drinker, may I suggest the Andechser Weißbier Hell? A light unfiltered beer with a mere 5.5% alcohol content. Unfortunately I’m allergic to beer and was unable to try but the smallest sip, but my friend from Canada who was celebrating his first day ever in Europe was up to the task. Besides beer, there is also traditional Bavarian food in hearty portions at reasonable prices. Especially considering how popular it is with tourists. Its hilltop location which provides a pleasant view overlooking the town of Andechs and the Bavarian countryside.
View from the restaurant (the view from the beer garden is even better, but my photo didn’t turn out)
After enjoying just one pint of the Andechser Doppelbock Dunkel, my friend was feeling its effects, but it was with a perma-grin slapped on his face that he he headed back to the gift shop to try the Andechser Weißbier Hell, to be consumed later. We had planned to walk down, but as we boarded the bus, the bus driver gave a knowing smile. Somehow I have a feeling that taking the bus down from the monastery is a common occurrence for many pilgrims.
Logistics of Getting to Andechs:
Andechs is located~40km SW of Munich and the nearby town of Herrsching is easily reached by S-bahn 8, a 40 minute journey. From the town of Herrsching you can either take a public bus (which only come infrequently) or a private bus, which comes more often and only cost us €2.25 each for the one-way ride. I would recommend walking up (just over an hour and 5km) and then playing it by ear for the return trip. For more info see the official site of Kloster Andechs (in German only).