The Experts' Guide To The World: Bavaria

The Bavarians have ways and means of working up a powerful thirst before they let themselves loose on the exquisite beers that have been brewed within the confines of the Kloster Reutberg monastery since 1677. In winter, they clip on cross-country skis and glide across the snowy expanse of heather-covered heath surrounding the baroque monastery, which has had a pub, restaurant and beer garden attached to it since the mid-19th century. If it's cold without snow, they bind on skates and spend an hour or so flitting up and down the length of the frozen Kirchsee lake that lies little more than a stone's throw away. In summer, the lake, with its peaty, amber-coloured water, transforms into a magnificent place to swim, sunbathe or simply walk around. In the distance is a near-ever-present, panoramic view of the Bavarian Alps, a gigantic snow-capped wall of grey rock that rises above forests of fir, beech and oak, just a few kilometres away to the south.

Walking into the beer garden is a bit like straying into the "Tomorrow belongs to me" sequence of Cabaret, minus the Nazism: sun-lit Alps beckon in the distance, while at an array of wooden outdoor tables, drinkers in leather trousers and Loden jackets quaff beer from large porcelain jugs under a panoply of verdant chestnut trees; the waitresses are clad in tight-waisted Dirndl dresses, the waiters in waistcoats and Lederhosen It may look a caricature of a German beer garden, but nobody bats an eyelid, as their get-up is nothing remarkable and definitely not put on for the tourists. It's a reminder that in strongly traditional Bavaria, people still wear the dress of their region with self-assuredness, if not pride.

Close to the Alps south of Munich, Kloster Reutberg is one of the few truly independent breweries left in the state. Its beers may only be obtainable at the monastery pub and supermarkets within a 20-mile radius, but what beers they are! There are no fewer than 10 of them and several pack a punch big enough to floor the average Real Ale aficionado. Josefi-Bock, a seasonal, malt-based strong ale, weighs in at 6.9 per cent alcohol. The so-called Weihnachts-Bock, or Christmas, ale is 6.7 per cent. One personal favourite is Kloster Reutberg's Dunkel Export, an aromatic, chestnut-coloured beer brewed entirely from malt. Another is the brewery's Sankt Aegdius (St Giles) beer. The latter is unfiltered and brewed according to procedures that were common a century ago, but which have long since been forgotten.

Kloster Reutberg changed hands two years ago and, under its current management, not only has the quality of the beer improved, its culinary performance has also taken a leap forward. But being a traditional Bavarian institution, nobody should expect a Cordon Bleu, vegetarian or even vaguely experimental menu. Roast pork with crackling, red cabbage and hand-made potato dumplings or spit-roast duck with home-made sauerkraut may not be that innovative, but they are outstanding when made from the right quality and often organic ingredients and properly cooked. So is home-made Apfelstrudel, rounded off with coffee and Obstler, a south German clear schnapps distilled from apples and pears and matured in oak barrels.

Reutberg beer may not be readily available worldwide, but Bavaria's provincial government has now started offering it to visitors at its state reception in the German capital. It's not hard to understand why.

Tony Paterson is Berlin correspondent of The Independent

Jeremy Clarkson
Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
Life and Style
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Bid / Tender Writing Executive

    £24000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Executives / Marketing Communications Consultants

    Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a number of Marketi...

    Recruitment Genius: Marketing Executive

    £20000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This well established business ...

    Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester

    £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester...

    Day In a Page

    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
    Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

    Beige to the future

    Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

    Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

    More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

    Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

    The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own