Alright folks, we made it to the top 10 beer experiences. This time The Beer Traveler ended up in Salzburg, Austria.
10. Lager at the Augustiner Kloster Mülln, Salzburg, Austria
Salzburg is best known to Americans as the site of “The Sound of Music” and it’s an absolutely stunning little Austrian city on the border of Bavaria. I couldn’t recommend enough a long weekend in Mozart’s hometown.
There’s a huge hill in the middle of town and on top is, you guessed it, a monastery, brewery, beer hall and beer garden. The monks still run the place.
I’d really never heard of this place, but we ended up in Salzburg one day after a six-hour drive from Zurich, Switzerland. Stumbling upon this magical beer hall after a long day on the road was like, well, running through golden Alpine fields, singing majestic songs of joy. “The hills are alive … !”
The beer here was absolutely spectacular: big liter steins of this heavily frothy, cool, bitter, unfiltered lager. The atmosphere was amazing, too: you can drink in the big noisy monastery beer hall, the outdoor beer garden, or cozy little booths where you and your friends can have some relative privacy.
The place was mobbed the night we arrived, must have been thousands of people in there. So we grabbed some empty seats at the “Stammtisch” – a table reserved for locals. But the locals really didn’t care and soon we were all fast friends.
The best part, though, was when the barrel of beer ran out. These barrels are huge, probably 20 times the size of your average party keg. And they’re made out of wood. But they just rolled out a new barrel, literally rolled it out into the serving area, and used a big wooden mallet to drive in the new tap. Beer sprayed everywhere and the party was back on. Wow, that was awesome brew.
Sometimes, late at night, the smell of the Augustiner beer, all sweet, bitter and sexy, wafts into my sleep … and then I wake up and cry in my lonely, beer-less cardboard box, thousands of miles from Salzburg.