Freising (pronounced fry-sign) the home of Weihenstephan Brewery, is a short train ride from Munich. This charming town and it’s iconic brewery are a perfect day trip for beer lovers that want to see the best of Germany. Weihenstephan is the oldest continuously producing brewery in the world. It is best known for its impeccably brewed wheat beer. Here’s what I suggest doing on a visit to this picturesque town and historical brewery.
Explore the Town of Freising
Freising is a quaint German town that seems torn from a movie set (or maybe Disney World’s Epcot?). If you’re planning to tour the brewery, take an early train. This will give you a few hours to explore the main street. The town square with three (beer serving!) cafes and the old church is a great place to relax, people watch, and take in the unique architecture and statues.
Many of the statues are depictions of bears because of a legend about St. Corbinian, the first Bishop of Freising. When Corbinian was traveling to Freising a bear attacked and ate his horse. He understood the bears need to eat, but told it that now he had no horse to carry his luggage so the bear would have to do it. And the bear obliged! This legend is why the coat of arms of Feising show a saddled bear. And why bear statues and carvings cover the city streets!
Weihenstephan Brewery makes a dopplebock in tribute to the bear-riding bishop of Friesing called Korbinian.
Go to an Eiscafe
I was shocked at how important ice cream is to the German diet. At any time of day, early morning, lunch time, very late at night, people are sitting outside eating massive ice cream sundaes. My friend who lives in Berlin laughed when I texted her on our second day in Germany “Ok, everyone is always eating ice cream? Or am I crazy?” She confirmed, yes in Germany, there’s no wrong time to eat an ice cream. Freising’s main road is lined with Eiscafes that are a little less commercial and more charming than the ones you’ll find in Munich, a perfect opportunity to try the mid-day ice cream trend…maybe the Germans are onto something with this??
Go To Das Bräustüberl Weihenstephan (The Weihenstephan Brewery’s Restaurant)
It takes about 25 minutes to walk from the center of the town up to the brewery. If you’d rather skip the exercise, it’s easy to find a cab near the train station. It’s a bit of a steep walk, you’re mounting the hill that the brewery sits on, but the elevation also provides a unique view of the city and scenic gardens as you make your way toward Weihenstephan.
If you have time before your tour definitely stop in at the restaurant for a few beers. There is counter service through a window out back in the garden or you can opt for a full blown table service lunch of traditional German fare and beer. Beers are affordable at around €4 a liter and the whole line of Weihenstephan beers are available. It was my first time having their pilsner and I gotta say…come for the wheat beer, stay for the pils!
Take a Weihenstephan Brewery Tour
The tour may seem like the main event, and it may be that I’m a bit tour-ed out, but I would say the tour is rather generic. It is cool to see the old equipment and the “room where it’s made” but I didn’t learn anything new or specific to Weihenstephan. The tours happen Monday-Wednesday and are available in English so you can ask as many questions as you want…and take photos of course. Be sure to make a reservation, these tours fill up!
It was a really hot day so being in the brew room was almost unbearable, on a cooler day I’m sure we would have spent more time there. In my opinion, you should opt for the tour with the tasting. The tasting at the end is where I learned the most about German drinking culture and got to see the “proper” pour of a wheat beer…yeast and all! Plus at just €9 for the tour, three bottles of beer, and a souvenir tasting glass it’s a great deal.
Enjoy the Views
Like I said, Weihenstephan (and the college campus it is a part of) is on top of a hill that overlooks Freising. Once you enjoyed your beers in the garden make your way to the little look out point from behind the restaurant. But don’t forget to take a few moments to walk around to the other outlooks. Behind the beer museum is an outlook that allows you to see for miles with all of the small towns and their cathedrals speckling the landscape. Compared to the cityscape I’m familiar with in NYC and even the metropolitan look of Munich, these rolling hills are calming.
Hit the Weihenstephan Brewery Gift Shop
Speaking of walking around the campus, there is a small gift shop in the main restaurant, but there is a much larger gift shop (packed with beer!!) on the brewery campus. If you’re looking to bring home gifts for anyone or a few memories for yourself, it is definitely worth the stop. The “World’s Oldest Brewery” slogan in printed on almost every piece of merchandise in the shop. This is a great chance to grab some of the Weihenstephaner beers that aren’t available in the states.
Getting to Weihenstephan Brewery
Freising isn’t too far of a drive from Munich. However, beer is the main event on this day trip so I suggest taking the train.
From Munich take the S1 train all the way to the end of the line. It’s about 40 minutes from the Marienplatz stop (in the center of the city’s old town). The trains are comfortable and air conditioned so it’s a relaxing trip.