Weltenburger Kloster - A Special Beer Treat for a 980 years If surviving in the market for long time is an indicator of value, this beer has proven itself! The first indicator for the existence of a brewery in Weltenburg Monastery can be found in the Weltenburg necrology, which states that "in 1035 the Master Brewer died". That should be safe enough for determining the age, and makes it the oldest brewery in the world. A outstanding taste and richness. We don't know if the monks were even allowed to drink beer - but we are, and this is a great one.
Kloster Weltenburg Located 440 km downstream from the source of Danube, near the Donaudurchbruch bei Weltenburg or Danube gorge by Weltenburg, lies the Benedictine abbey of Weltenburg. This the oldest monastery in Bavaria, founded by Irish or Scottish monks in about 620 CE. The abbey has brewed its own beer since at least 1050, which has been taken as the official foundation date for the modern brewery, making it just ten years younger than the Weihenstephan brewery in Freising and thus the second oldest brewery in Bavaria and in the world!
Most of the buildings seen at the abbey today are from the 18th century. The baroque church was built 1716-1751 by the architect brothers Cosmas Damian Asam and Aegid Quirin Asam, who have been immortalized with their own Asam Bock beer at the abbey. Because of the turbulent times in Europe, with wars and conflicts, the abbey was surrounded by a protective stone wall along the river (the other side is protected by a hill) and a large gate at the front.
Like other abbeys in Bavaria, Weltenburg was forced to close and the monks dispelled during the secularization of Bavaria in 1803. However, fourty years later some Benedictine monks were allowed to settle here and re-found the Weltenburg abbey, which is still today operated by the Benedictine order.
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In 1973, the last brewmaster at Klosterbrauerei Weltenburg retired and the abbey brewery went into a "Personalunion" with Brauerei Bischoshof in the city of Regensburg. Personalunion means "shared staff", so in effect the abbey brewery is now operated by brewers from the Regensburg brewery and not by the monks of Weltenburg. Today all the Weltenburger Kloster beers are bottled at Brauerei Bischofshof and several are brewed there too, but the classics - such as Barock Dunkel and Asam Bock - are still brewed at Weltenburg.
The deal with Brauerei Bischofshof was not made just to take the workload off the monks at Weltenburg but also because the old abbey brewery badly needed an upgrade, which was duly done in the mid 1970s - meaning that the modern Klosterbrauerei is a fairly modern brewery. It has a capacity of 100 hl per batch and produces 400 hl per week or 2 million liter beer per year.
According to the tour guide, Klosterbrauerei Weltenburg only uses hops from the Hallertau region and local malts in their beer. The hops are added in the form of pellets, usually 20 kg per batch. When I was there, in late September, hop harvest had just ended in Hallertau and the museum at Weltenburg had been decorated with fresh, deliciously smelling hop bines along the walls and under the ceiling. I couldn't help myself but squeeze and smell a hop cone ... hmmmm, euphoric!
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Kloster Weltenburger, Barock Dunkel The world´s oldest dark beer. A true experience of flavour. Full-bodied with fine malt aromas, slightly bitter with some sweetness, creamy and with the warm colors of amber; intensive flavour and fragrance. Brewed in the traditional monastic manner, it is one of the great beers.
Kloster Weltenburger, Hefe-Weissbier Dunkel Dark wheat beer with yeast. Brewed in accordance with Bavarian tradition and adjusted to the flavors of traditional, well-established recipes and Bavarian life style. Strong in color and flavor with a good balance of hoppy freshness and malty richness.
Kloster Weltenburger, Hefe-Weissbier Hell Golden-yellow-brown, dominantly fresh, with a taste of yeast, tangy and well balanced in its flavor and lightness, pleasantly sparkling thanks to natural carbonation. A good choice not only at traditional "Frühschoppen" or in beer gardens during summer.