Who knew that 49km could pack such a whollop? For such a short distance on the Federal Highway B301 in Bavaria, the road is known as the German Hops Road. Called Deutsche Hopfenstraße (in German), it’s not to be confused with the Bavarian Beer Route (which is nearby).
This little green bud is the center of this entire route, for without it German beer wouldn’t be, well, German beer. All thanks to a duke from Bavaria who in 1516 declared that only a handful of natural ingredients be used to make beer, and hops is one of them.
The route starts in the very traditional Lower Bavarian town of Abensberg. You might not notice the fields of hops right away, but you will notice the medieval flair the town still has. I think it might have something to do with the stoned Maderturm, the gothic and white Herzogskasten (Duke’s Castle), or the historical Karmelitenkloster (Carmelite Monastery).
When you’re here the first weekend in July, come to the Bürgerfest where the entire castle is turned into a medieval camp. More modern approaches to partying are had at the Gillamoos, the largest fair of its kind in all of the Hallertau (the region around this German Hops Route); and held on the first Sunday in September.
By the way, the hops produced in the Hallertau region makes up one third of the hops produced and sold worldwide!
Traveling south on the B301 brings you past many hops growing fields towards Biburg. Stop here for its 17th century Pilgrimage Church and its 12th century Klosterkirche Maria Immaculata, a Monastery Church.
Another Maria Immaculata Church awaits you in Elsendorf, the next stop on our route. Of course, that’s not all. Perhaps you might decide to stay the night here because you’ve got hops & beer sightseeing to do. From here you can visit the German Hops Museum (and the whole reason you’re following this route), or bicycle around the 12km adventure trail where you’ll find all sorts of cool facts and information about hops (and beer) along the way.
Another bicycle sightseeing tour you can do around here is the Brewery Tour with some seventeen breweries along the way. If you get hungry, here’s a good time to try some rustic, hearty cuisine often made with asparagus — the other biggest crop grown in this region of the Hallertau.
As much as it will pain you to leave Elsendorf, keep moving south until arriving in Rudelzhausen. No, there aren’t any old monasteries or the like, just a fantastic friendly town with forested bicycling routes. If you’ve traveled this far by bike, then by all means rest at any one of the local beer gardens and enjoy that Gemütlichkeit (or social acceptance) everyone is talking about. The difference is, once you’re here you’ll experience it firsthand and not just hear about it.
The same could be said in Zolling, the second to last town on the German Hops Road. Zolling has a beautiful Pilgrimage Church. However, its Badesee is the most popular site. Who could resist sitting lakeside with family, friends, food, and beer? I know I can’t so I hope to see you there.
Last stop on the Deutsche Hopfenstraße is the big city of Freising. Some 50,000 people live here and it’s easy to see why — it’s so gosh darn pretty. Right on the Marktplatz you’ll see the Rathaus (Town Hall), the Town Church of St. Georg, and the town’s beautiful 17th century Mariensäule.
That’s not all, there’s more in Freising — you are in a worldwide popular town after all. Worldwide? Yeah, you have not only museums (the Domberg and the Bürgerturm), gardens, and chapel ruins, but also Germany’s second largest international airport, the Munich Airport [MUC], just south of the town!
Along these 49km, you’ve seen how amazing this little plant is and how vital it is to beer making. But, hopefully you were paying attention and noticed so many other products are made with hops, from liquor to crafts and even sausage. So, if you’ve followed the German Hops Road, you’ll be able to drink and eat all the other treats made with that stuff.
Now, if you’ll excuse me — there’s a hops brewed beer with my name on it… ;-)