Welcome to Bierwelt, Bavaria's theme park based on beer

I invite you to make the journey deep into the heart of Bavaria. Only 90km from Munich lies Abensberg in the Hallertau, the world's largest hop growing region. Abensberg is home to Kuchlbauer, a small brewery specializing in Hefeweizen style beers. This region is also home to the two oldest known licensed breweries in the world, Weihenstephan (1040) and Weltenburg (1050), and currently has about 600 operating breweries. Despite brewing traditions going back almost a thousand years, Hefeweizen is a fairly new phenomenon in beer. Traditionally, the malt in German beer is barley. The addition of wheat as a malted grain has become increasingly popular over the past sixty years. Kuchlabuer decided to specialize in Hefeweizen early in the twentieth century and has been operating a tour of its facility for about thirty years.

What makes this brewery tour special is that the owner, Leonhard Salleck, has taken it upon himself to make a visual experience out of the tour that combines beer with art, philosophy, literature, and agriculture. Two years ago, they renovated their tour operations and created Bierwelt (World of Beer) laden with animatronic beer gnomes, exhibitions on brewing history, a beer pharmacy, a tower dedicated to beer, and of course beer sampling.

The tour involves winding your way through the brewery grounds, following a curved path of beer bottle bottoms inlaid into the floor of the facility. At various stations, you are presented with information about brewing history, the personal philosophy of the owner, and are encouraged to "see the beauty in life, do good, and recognize truth."

The culmination of this tour is the ascent of the Hundertwasser Tower. Friedensreich von Hundertwasser (1928-2000) is one of the most recognizable artists in the German speaking world and is known for his architectural modifications shunning straight lines and promoting organic irregularities.

The owner was able to convince Hundertwasser to design a tower for the brewery as one of his last projects before his death. After almost a decade of struggling with the local government over the tower height and construction guidelines, the tower opened in 2010 and has become a must see for beer and art enthusiasts in the region.

The tower, originally designed to be seventy meters, now tops out at thirty-five meters. As you climb the tower you find alcoves, symbolic windows, and small rooms to explore. At the top of the tower, the tree of knowledge is represented in the walls of the oval dome. As you descend you are brought into a room and offered one of their six different styles of Hefeweizen, from alcohol free to a Weizendoppelbock that will "send you flying" as they say. (Additional beers may be purchased for 1€)

Video: kuchlbauers-bierwelt.de


How to get there:

It is only 90 minutes by train from Munich central station via Ingolstadt to Abensberg. Get a group day pass called a "Bayern Ticket" for €29 and that will get you and 4 of your friends from Munich to Abensberg and back for the day. The tower can only be visited as a part of the tour that costs €11 for adults. Discounts are available for students, seniors, and children. In the summer they often turn away visitors, so reservations are highly encouraged. Tour reservations can be made online besucherinfo(at)kuchlbauers-bierwelt.de.

Please note: you must be 16 to sample beer at Bierwelt.

More images are in the photo album.


    1. Pretty standard copper you’ll see at a craft brewer. Although this place is rad to the max for other reasons, too.

  1. I know yeast is a vital player in brewing, but it is far beyond me what a bacteriophage has to do with any of this. (10th picture)

    1. Thanks for bringing that up, I was going to ask about that glass window. Any ideas from the group?
      There are a number of ‘secrets’ hidden in the tower and that was one of them.
      Could it be a fermentation killer?

    1. Prolly cos its on the opposite side of Munich.
      Take the Autobahn to Nuremberg and change to the Autobahn to Passau. Halfway between the connection between the 2 autobahns and Regensburg is the exit to Abensberg.
      Nearby and maybe not visually but gastronomically much more interesting is the Hop museum:
      Worth a visit too.

  2. Although the hef has an interesting flavor, I’d be lying if I were to say it’s anything but a timid beer.

  3. My eyes and head are ready to explode just from looking at these few pics. It’s ike Antonio Gaudì meets Dr. Seuss meets Disneyland meets Salvador Dali meets Roger Dean all rolled into one cheesy stained-glass window.


  4. From Wikipedia:
    A broad number of food products, commodity chemicals, and biotechnology products are manufactured industrially by large-scale bacterial fermentation of various organic substrates. Because enormous amounts of bacteria are being cultivated each day in large fermentation vats, the risk of bacteriophage contamination could rapidly bring fermentation to a halt. The resulting economical setback is a serious threat in these industries. The relationship between bacteriophages and their bacterial hosts is very important in the context of the food fermentation industry. Sources of phage contamination, measures to control their propagation and dissemination, and biotechnological defense strategies developed to restrain phages are of interest. The dairy fermentation industry has openly acknowledged the problem of phage and has been working with academia and starter culture companies to develop defense strategies and systems to curtail the propagation and evolution of phages for decades.

    1. I have worked with phage, but am not certain of the artists intent, but another point is that this is a (the) top HOPS growing region. Hops were essential for their antimicrobial action, hence use in IPAs that needed extra anti-bacterial protection for the long journeys, resulting in the still popular extra hoppy taste.

      As phage can offer bacteria resistance to hops, this might be acknowledgment of their arch-rival or an homage to the scientists that have studied bacterial phage. This may be a T4 phage, studied by Berlin born Max Delbrück and others.

      I would love to know more.

    2. Bacteriophages are a problem when using bacteria as production organisms, as is done in the dairy industry.

      But as far as I know (as a biologist and casual homebrewer) yeast are the ideal beer fermentation organisms. Bacteria means spoilage.

      Unless the artist is celebrating bacteriophage as the assassin of contaminating bacteria, and therefore the champions of beer yeast, I’m not sure I understand its relevance….

  5. mmmm, Weihenstephan, best hefewiesen out there, is available in the states and canada. i say to all go get one, is very very good

  6. I don’t even like beer, and I want to visit this place. It looks fascinating, and I love seeing how things are made.

  7. The whole region (Holledau) there is most famous for their hop production, it is said that it is the best hop in the world (and due to it’s quality most of it is not used for beer but for medication). Also Abensberg is famous for it’s asparagus, but you have to wait till the end of April to try it.

    If someone wants to visit Abendsberg, I also recommend to make a tour to the Kloster Weltenburg (impressive scenery, good beer) and also to Regensburg, a nice small medieval town just 1h to the north of munich. It may even be a good idea to stay in Regenburg instead of Munich, the connections by bus and train to Abendsberg and Weltenburg are better.

    Hundertwasser was definitly inspired by Gaudi, but did further develop his ideas. I think that Hundertwasser also impressed the architects in San Francisco, at least they are saying that to german tourists there… It is also nice to see that the brewery sticks to Hundertwasser’s idea of the Baummieter – trees living in and on the building.

  8. I like a few of Hundertwassers paintings but his architecture is a guaranteed eyesore every time. Directionless arts and crafts boosted by huge amounts of money to inflict heavy damage on any cityscape.

  9. I know Hollertau very well, as I used to drive past it when I worked for the US Army at Grafenwöhr but spent weekends in Munich. The road you need is the A93 exit Wolnzach.

    I have drunk gallons of German beer over the years here and although you get of course hung over, I think its not as harmful as the chemical-laden rubbish churned out by the mega breweries, as it is protected by the strict “Reinheitsgebot” (wiki that!).

  10. Ah yes, good old Friendensreich. Always dressed like a bum on purpose, a bizarre dude, but really nice supposedly.

    His architecture is odd, and doesn’t have much to do with Gaudí beyond that they both didn’t like straight lines. And that everybody seems to like Gaudí, while people are always “ZOMG, so awesome” or “OMG, kill it with fire” with Hundertwasser.

    I like his stuff, mostly because I prefer “heavy damage on any cityscape” to everything looking like post-disaster Czernobyl.

    Lets compare. It’s either this: http://t3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRYsJ7zVD7WkNRgWx88zegblOYMrFKFB05yJcnjokccmKCcfzVsyg&t=1

    Or this: http://www.bildarchiv-hamburg.de/hamburg/gebaeude/muellverbrennungsanlage_borsigstrasse/01_mvb_borsigstrasse/04_23062_muellverbrennungsanlage_spiegelung.jpg

    So yeah, Mudshark, I know your opinion, I respect it, I just don’t share it.

    1. Well there´s usually more than those two extreme ways to go about things, although I have to admit I don´t know about any aesthetically pleasing incineration plants. And the Müllverbrennungsanlage Spittelau is one of those buildings I was talking about that I have a hard time looking at, more so after going by it daily for two years. “Kill it with fire” seems about right :)

      I think you´re right about Gaudi. He seems less controversial and, as far a I´m concerned, more tasteful. Also not as much of a one trick pony i.m.o.

  11. Mmmmmmm…one of my favorite beer styles, loved the more for its non-hoppy timidity. When it’s very hot outside, I like to mix Hefe half-and-half with lemonade and sit outside reading and drinking ‘Radlermass’ (hope I got that right). Delicious!

    This tour looks cool. Maybe next year…

  12. I think they need to build an extension, with audoanimatronic birds that sing:
    “In the Drinky Drinky Drinky Drinky Drinky Room!”

  13. This is very cool. I was in Munich this past summer for a few days, most of my family still lives in Germany. I’ve never heard of Bierwelt. i’ll have to make it a stop the next time I visit (hopefully sooner rather than later!)

    Although nothing can still compare to a good glass of Alt Bier from Dusseldorf! We talk about all this and a lot more at our German American forum & community, if you have interest in German Culture check us out at http://www.imgerman.com

  14. The interior shots of the odd art reminds me of the St. Louis City Museum. Only this looks better, as there’s beer involved.

  15. I contacted the brewery and they say that the window is of a T32 phage, as it has similar construction to the tower and a similar effect. They said the complete description is in the book about the tower. I’ll get it on my next visit!

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