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The Bavarian Art of Brewing: Discover Beer and Hops Museums!

Bavaria without its beer would be like a belfry without any bats — unheard of. In Bavaria, beer isn't simply an alcoholic beverage but a piece of cultural heritage — no matter whether you enjoy wheat beer, smoked beer, or Pilsner. Beer connects people, creates conviviality, and is a symbol of the lively atmosphere in beer gardens and pubs. For centuries, it has characterised entire regions, such as the Hallertau with its prominent hops gardens.

Find out more about regional brewing traditions and hops growing in over 20 museums dedicated to hops, beer, and the Oktoberfest in Munich!

The Oktoberfest: From Royal Wedding to Folk Festival

Oktoberfest bei Nacht
© München Tourismus, Tommy Lösch

In 1810, no one would have guessed that a royal wedding would become the largest folk festival in the world. Today it is known as "Oktoberfest" internationally and as "Wiesn" to Bavarians. On 17 October 1810, a large horse race took place on the Theresienwiese in Munich in honor of the wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig (later King Ludwig I of Bavaria) and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. The race was a great success and became a public festival in the following years. Over time, more and more attractions were added, including fairground rides, funfair shops and beer tents. Today, the Oktoberfest attracts millions of visitors every year. You can find out more about the history of Oktoberfest at the Bier- und Oktoberfestmuseum (Beer and Oktoberfest Museum) in Munich.

The Green Gold: Hops Cultivation in Bavaria

Hops are an indispensable ingredient in Bavarian beer. They give a brew its characteristic flavour and aroma. Hops have been grown in Bavaria for centuries, especially in Franconia and the Hallertau region. Today, Bavaria is the largest producer of hops in the world. Hops are a labour-intensive crop. Hop plants are raised on high trellises and need regular tending. Its flowers — hops — are harvested in late summer and then dried and processed into pellets. You can find out more about hop growing at the Deutsches Hopfenmuseum (German Hops Museum) in Wolnzach and in the Museum HopfenBierGut in Spalt. A taste of the local produce is advised. 

© - Jens Schwarz

Bavarian Beer Variety

Person genießt ein Bier zum Schnitzel im Wirtshaus
© - Florian Trykowski

Over the course of time, a large variety of beers have emerged in the different regions of Bavaria. They differ in flavour and brewing method. From the internationally renowned breweries in Munich to local microbreweries in Franconia and Upper Palatinate, from wheat beer to Bambergs smoked beer, there is a variety of unique flavours to be discovered. They all have one thing in common: only hops, malt, and water are allowed for brewing. This Bavarian Law of Purity has been legally binding since 1516. A whole range of craft beer breweries keep this tradition alive, using classic recipes and giving them a distinguished taste.

You can find out more about the production of regional beers (including tasting sessions) at the Bayerisches Brauereimuseum (Bavarian Brewery Museum) in Kulmbach.

Experience the Oktoberfest Digitally!

Oktoberfest: Historic Photographs by Philipp Kester (external link, opens in a new window)

Schwarzweißfotografie einer Verkäuferin von Brez'n und Salzweckerl vor einem Bierzelt

What was the Oktoberfest like in the old days? In this online collection of the Münchner Stadtmuseum (Munich City Museum) you can discover historic photographs of the Oktoberfest by photographer Philipp Kester!

From Hops Fields to Festival Tents: Bavaria's Beer Museums