Each year, we take our crew who’ve been with us for 5 years on a beer pilgrimage called "The Road to Munich". A 10 day journey through Belgium, Germany and Austria visiting Euro village breweries and hop fields trying a whole lot of awesome beers and good food along the way. The pilgrimage has come to a finish in Munich and our lucky pilgrims rich with good beer stories and laughs from their travels are making their way back to the motherland...See their adventure here.
We want to hear the tales of our pilgrims and get their take on the beery wonderland that is "The Road to Munich". Stone & Wood Ambassador and all round good guy Viren Goundrie was one of the lucky crew to do the journey last year. Here's some words by Viren on his experience during last year's "The Road to Munich".
On completion of 5 years service at Stone & Wood, each staff member is invited to join our founders Ross, Brad and Jamie on a beer journey to the heart of good beer, “The Road To Munich”. This beer soaked trip of a lifetime takes in London, Brussels, Dusseldorf, Cologne, Bamburg, Tettnang and finally Munich.
Last year’s pilgrims included; Hugh Doyle; Stone & Wood’s roadcrew maestro in Brisbane, Luke Rutland; fermentation guru for Granite Belt Cider and Bucha of Byron, and myself (Viren Goundrie; Stone & Wood Ambassador). We were also joined by Anthony Cook (Jamie’s son) who had recently completed his brewing studies in Germany.
All seven of us met in London and headed to Brussels via the Eurostar. Belgium brewing history is long and proud with beers featuring yeasty phenolics, high levels of alcohol and sweetness. Straight off the train we visited Cantillon a working museum brewery making the world’s most celebrated Lambic (spontaneous fermented) beers, sour is the name of their game. We also visited Brasserie De La Senne, a local craft brewery offering beers on the drier, hoppier and lower alcohol end of the spectrum. La Senne sells more than half of their beer just in the city of Brussels.
From Brussels we trained it again to Dusseldorf in north Western Germany. Dusseldorf specialises in just one beer – Alt. This brown, malt forward beer is delicious and part of the inspiration behind our original Jasper Ale. Visits to two Alt breweries; Schumacher and Uerige allowed us to witness some ancient brewing techniques in use including; open fermenters, open wort exchange, wort cooler and cool ship (even Brad got excited!). Uerige sells more than half of their production through their restaurant.
Next stop Cologne, another Uni beer city; Kolsch. This wonderful, light, easy drinking beer is served in the brewery restaurants by grumpy (mostly male) wait staff continuously until you cover your thin science beaker like glass with coaster. It was fascinating to smell and taste how each brewery had their own flavour DNA, a uniqueness amongst homogenous beer.
Bamburg is famous for 3 things; a World Heritage Listed old town, Rauchbier (smokey, bacon like beer) and Weyermann Maltings. We stayed in the middle of old town and sampled many a Rauchbier, memorably one deep down in the ancient cellar at Schlenkerla brewery. We toured the Maltings, helped make a beer and had lunch with the Weyermann family. Our time in Bamburg allows Stone & Wood to bring the family wheel to life by nurturing long term relationships (suppliers as partners).
Tettnang is a hop that we use in Green Coast Lager, it is also a lovely little village in Germany surrounded by hop gardens. We visited a local hop farm with a young energetic owner named Lucas. Here we witnessed the harvest/processing, helped make a beer and sampled the finished product. Tettnanger brewery was our home for a few nights, a multi-generational business run by Fritz and Fritz (father and son), involving the entire family day and night. Fritz junior explained the struggles that this village brewery has faced throughout the years and how he sees the future (it looks bright and modern).
On the final leg of the journey we took every back road we could find and not far from Munch we stopped at Kloster Andechs, a monastic brewery where Monks have been making fantastic beers for hundreds of years. We rolled into Munich along the Autobahn regularly being overtaken by speeding drivers.
We Rode bicycles through the city stopping regularly to sample beer in the massive beer gardens and breweries. Helles Lager (what Green Coast Lager has been styled off), Dunkel (dark Lager) and Weizen (wheat beer) all tasted sensational. The king of all the local breweries is Augustiner where not only did we eat and drink at several times but thanks to Brad’s connections were lucky enough to receive a tour of their brewery (no one ever gets to do this!).
Each brewery we visited is an integral part of life in the towns and cities where it resides. The breweries provide jobs, a place for people to socialise, eat and sleep. The communities are proud of their breweries and the breweries support their community as they have for hundreds of years. This symbiotic relationship between community and brewery is inspiring.
On the Road To Munich we visited some amazing towns, ate some amazing food and drank some even more amazing beers. On behalf of Hugh and Luke, I would like to thank Ross, Brad and Jamie for memories that will last a lifetime.
Words by Viren Goundrie.