Enjoying a pint is one thing; even better is learning about the brewing process. And that’s easy in SouthWest Germany, the Land of 1,000 Beers. We have small, family breweries, still brewing as Germans did 500 years ago. We have young enthusiasts making craft beers. You can explore breweries and taste beers; join in a beer seminar and get tips on home brewing in a workshop. There are even beer-themed hiking trails. It’s all part of Biersüden, Beers of the SouthWest!
TIP: If you are in SouthWest Germany on April 23, this is German Beer Day. Head for the nearest pub and join the celebrations!
Rothaus Brewery: Here’s to the pine trees
Only water sourced from seven nearby springs is used for the brews, which include Tannenzäpfle. The name means pine cones, a nod to the pine trees here in the Black Forest. This Pilsner is one of the world’s top beers and a cult favourite in Germany. Dating back to 1791, the Rothaus Brewery has its own historic inn, restaurant and Zäpfle Heimat museum. Take the 90-minute tour; see the brewhouse, cellar and bottling plant. Learn about the traditional skills of master brewers as well as today’s innovations. Finish with a freshly-brewed glass of Tannenzäpfle. Two hours southwest of Stuttgart.
Distelhäuser Brewery: Brewmaster for a day
At the very northern tip of SouthWest Germany is the town of Tauberbischofsheim in the Tauber Valley. Here, the Distelhäuser brewery has been run by the Bauer family since 1876. Local grains and hops are used for the 21 beers, which range from Pils to wheat beer. Taste and compare in their beer garden, in the brewery or on a tour. Spend time at Distelhäuser Adventure World. Here, in the specially-designed brewhouse, you can brew your own beer under the guidance of a master brewer. Best of all, you can take it home with you! 75 minutes northeast of Stuttgart.
Alpirsbacher Monastery Brewery: Monastic tradition
In the old days, women brewed beer, just as they cooked and baked bread. Beer was also brewed in monasteries, where it was considered a nourishing food – monks were allowed to drink beer during Lent. At Alpirsbach, learn more in the museum and the distillery, on a tour and at a beer seminar. Take home fun souvenirs from the shop, such as beer shampoo, hop bath oil or beer mustard. In the brewery tavern or one of the nearby inns, relax with a classic Pils, Kleiner Mönch (Little Monk) or strong Spezial Klosterbier (Monastery Beer). Alpirsbach is 90 minutes southwest of Stuttgart.
Zwiefalter Klosterbräu Brewery: Brewing the Benedictine way
The first mention of the Zwiefalten Monastery was in 1521, but brewing in the Benedictine monastery started much earlier. Today, the monks’ heritage is still respected in the brewing process. Find out more from guides on a brewery tour. Afterwards, enjoy a freshly-brewed Engele (angel); a cheerful cherub adorns the labels of a popular brew. 90 minutes southeast of Stuttgart.
Karlsruhe’s Vogelbräu Brewery: Real and unfiltered
Since 1985, master brewer Rudi Vogel has been making his unfiltered beer in Karlsruhe, an hour northwest of Stuttgart. Beer fans love his Deftige Bierseminar, seminars devoted to what he calls real beer. As part of a brewery tour, learn all about the different steps of the brewing process. At the end, tuck in to a hearty snack and a beer. There is even a Tour de Vogel, a 13-mile/1-km bike ride linking Karlsruhe with the two other Vogel breweries in Durlach and Ettlingen – with refreshments along the way, of course!
Böhringen Beers: What’s in a name?
An hour southeast of Stuttgart is the village of Böhringen. Here, what started out as the Hirschbrauerei brewery in 1826 became Böhringer Biere in 2010. But the owners are still the same family and the ethos remains the same. Tours are led by Stephanie Spitzer, a trained chef and beer sommelier, who can answer any and all questions about the history, production and taste of the beers. Compare and contrast a malty Johannes Dunkel with an unfiltered Kellerpils (rich in Vitamin B) or a prize-winning Urtyp, with mild and spicy flavours.
Heidelberg: Breweries old and new
Students at Heidelberg University are lucky: they can choose from two excellent breweries. Both offer guided tours for visitors. High above the River Neckar, on the outskirts of the city, is the Abbey of Neuburg, with its own restaurant and brewery making organic beer. Guided tours of the monastery include the brewery, as well as tastings and a snack. In the heart of the Old Town is the modern Heidelberg Kulturbrauerei, a boutique brewery and hotel in an ancient setting. Take a guided tour for insights into how the master brewer creates his fresh unpasteurized beer. As ever, a beer and a snack await at the end of the visit. Heidelberg is 90 minutes northwest of Stuttgart.