We headed back down the steps and readied ourselves for the drive to Saxony but as successful as the outing had been, I wanted to have one last beer. Even though it was still fairly early in the morning and in many countries this would not only be frowned upon but often not even be possible, this was Germany and Bavaria no less so well within the realm of possibility. I'm not one to normally imbibe in the wee hours but this is a place I don't get to often and their beer is pure magic. Even if my wife would not normally condone such things, if we had been there on our own, I would have asked and she would have given in. She knows me too well to deny me when it comes to the hard to get beer. But we were with my in-laws and the last thing you want to do is to ask to have a beer right after breakfast. It's just bad form and even a beer hunter like myself knows to move onto the next game rather than risk disdain. So, I was pretty much set to walk off into the sunset on this fond but wanting more memory, when I noticed my father-in-law walking into the Kloster. I figured he needed to use the restroom before we took off, we had a long drive in front of us after all. Moments later, he came out with two mugs of beer and a big smile on his face. I tried to suppress mine as I knew my wife wouldn't be too happy with this development. It's not that she minded so much that I got what she knew all too well what I surely wanted-that last beer-but that it meant she would have to drive at least the first leg of the trip back to Saxony.
We sat at an outside table in the sun, enjoying the fresh morning air, and of course that last beer. The ladies declined even a small sip and the men drank like it was meant to be. For once, I was closer to my father-in-law and perhaps when it comes to such “manly” endeavors that's the way it should be.
After securing a table in the atmospheric old stone courtyard, I went in to get a round of beers, pretzels and a plate of Obatzn, a Bavarian cheese spread that I had introduced my German family to some years earlier. It was met with gusto and we all sank into a comfort zone we had not been able to reach in a long time. My wife was back with her parents after a long time apart and it was nice to finally enjoy it. We got more food and of course more beers, managing to finish it all before a thunderstorm rolled in. We took brief refuge in the very crowded indoor seating area but soon sought out our rooms for a very deserved night's rest.
As is often the case after a big storm, the weather was gorgeous the next morning and after a nice breakfast in the Kloster's cozy dining room, we packed up the car and investigated the complex and surrounding area. This was a bit of a first for us too as the weather had been miserable our first time here and though the church was beautiful we soon headed on a short hike up some steep stone steps to a cluster of shrines and fine views over the surrounding valley. It was stunning and it was obvious that my wife's family was very happy we had shown them a gem within their own country they would have surely missed otherwise. (concluded below in Fondest Memory)
Franconia is rich with small breweries and one of my favorites is located in a monastery in the far north of the area. It is actually just as close to Saxony as Munich but with us flying into the Bavarian capital, we asked if her parents could pick us up somewhere in between and we would treat them to a little overnight excursion. Kloster Kreuzberg is quite difficult to get to by mass transportation and if we had made our way their ourselves, my in-laws would have been there for hours waiting for us. So, we hatched a plan for them to meet us in Regensburg where I could show my father-in-law another brewery and have some lunch before venturing north.
It was a glorious sunny day and our short visit to Kneitinger Brauerei went smashingly well. The food and beer were met with unanimous approval and I further proved my knack for finding the goods when it comes to beer and food. It was time to make the drive to the Kloster and since my father-in-law had driven down from Saxony, and had drank more than one beer, it was my wife's task to drive despite having just arrived from a transatlantic flight. It was a beautiful ride but longer than anticipated and soon everyone, especially my driving wife, tired of the admitted pretty scenery. All questions of my sanity dissipated when we pulled up to the Kloster and my in-laws were very pleasantly surprised to find an oasis in the middle of nowhere. We got our reserved rooms and headed to its very busy beer garden. My wife and I had only been to the Kloster once prior and it being in November and a very wet gray day, we had not envisioned not only how nice it would be in fine weather but also how crowded. It was a good thing we had arranged the rooms before arriving and we could finally relax to a much needed meal and beer. (continued below in Fondest Memory)
Kloster Kreuzberg is nestled in a gorgeous green valley full of rolling hills but the complex itself would be gorgeous even if in a city. Of course, let's not beat around the bush, I found this place and setting looking for a beer. So, in many ways the beer is my favorite thing but it's not just the beer, it's where it is being drank. It's tough to top the atmosphere of sitting in the stoney courtyard of this old monastery, sipping the the fruits of the monks' labors.
Fondest memory: People often talk about their mother-in-laws and mostly in an unflattering way at that. For some reason their husbands escape the scathing remarks reserved for their spouse's mother. Oddly enough, I have always had better relationships with my women's mothers even before I ever ventured down the isle. It's not that I had bad relationships with my potential father-in-laws, I just got along better with the women. I guess I'm not a real man's man in many ways. I was not particularly into sports when I was younger. Never fished or went hunting. None of the “manly” stuff that men bond over. When I finally did get married, it came as little surprise that I was closer to my mother-in-law than the patriarch of the family.
One good thing about marrying a German was that one of my passions was less likely to be looked down upon than if I had tied the knot with someone from my own country. I love trying different beers and Germany surely has no shortage. My father-in-law, being a good German man, loves his beer too so at least we had one thing in common besides his daughter. Just to give you some insight, when it comes to beer, Germans are very regionalized. They tend to drink beers from their area and not look beyond that. They are proud to a fault of “their” beer and blind often to beers aficionados like myself consider classics. Thankfully, my father-in-law was one of more adventurous Germans in this respect and he was slightly fascinated with not only my penchant for seeking out such beers but also how I had got his daughter to drive me around the country in this quest.
We had been living in the United States for a few years without returning to my wife's homeland due to Green Card red tape but as soon as we were able we planned a trip back to see her family. Munich is generally our most convenient entry point and of course it affords me another opportunity to sample some beers in the region between it and my wife's native Saxony.(continued below in Fondest Memory)
Favorite thing: The Kreuzerg beer is pretty strong, and the German police in the area know it. Espescially on weekends, they are watching the roads in the area. Don't ruin your trip by getting arrested for driving under the influence. The Kreuzberg brewery has souvenier bottles in 1, 2, 5, and 10 liter sizes. That way the driver can stay sober for the drive.