Jules is also the only person I know whose passion for Munich matches mine. Lots of people love Munich, but do they love love Munich with the deep passion of the foreigner who moves here, without knowing anyone, without knowing the language, without a job, and falls head over heels for the city, staying despite common sense and all family members imploring otherwise? Yup, that was me. And Jules, more than a decade ago.
I’m pretty sure he was also the first person who took me to Kloster Andechs. Though I can’t be totally sure. I basically just attribute all of my Munich “firsts” to Jules, and that usually ends up being a pretty accurate portrayal of my Munich history. Anyway, Kloster Andechs is an important place to know if you live in (or visit – it’s a highlight) Munich. It is a Benedictine Abbey, a place of pilgrimage, on a hill east of Ammersee and the lakeside town of Herrsching. A baroque church sits atop the hill, overlooking the rolling countryside below, and right next to the church is a monastery and brewery where the monks have brewed some of Germany’s best beer for over 500 years.
An outing to Kloster Andechs combines all things that Germans love best: beer, good hearty farm food, a walk through the countryside, and a festive environment with well-known Schlager music that has everyone singing along. A recent trip also reminded me how perfectly acceptable it is to bring the kids along on such outings. We shared a table with a couple and their newborn, who happily squirmed on the table, gurgling and ignoring the ruckus around him. At the table across from us, a group of 80+ year olds sang heartily and toasted their barely-past-their-teenage-years-punk-rock-stylin’ table companions. And everyone knew the words to every song.
One of the reasons that Andechs is such an attractive family outing is that it’s affordable, the food is excellent, and the portions are enormous. Andechs’ famous Doppelbock (an extra strong dark lager) goes for around 6 Euros a liter. The Schweinshax’n, which is approximately the size of a humanhead, weighs in at only 1.80 per 100 grams. There is also butcher on-site and a cheese purveyor who specializes in a huge variety of local cheeses. And then there’s the Steckerlfisch which is locally-caught and seasoned with a special blend of spices. The only problem with Andechs is that there is so much good food and it’s impossible to try it all. Honestly, if you’re looking for perfectly-prepared, locally-sourced, simple, German farm fare, it doesn’t get much better than Andechs.
One note of warning for the uninitiated: don’t go complaining about the service, because there is no service. That’s the point. You have to be prepared for crowds, you have to just find a table and squeeze in with everyone else who is already there, and expect to wait in line for your beer and food, and to hand over your money as quickly as possible so you don’t hold up the line behind you. It’s all just part of the experience. If you go with an open mind, you should find that the crowd is welcoming, the music and atmosphere is relaxed and lively, the food and the beer go down easily, and before you know it the afternoon will be fading into evening, and you’ll be stumbling back down the hill, through the woods, and on your way back to Munich with a full belly and a satisfied smile.
Kloster Andechs Biergarten