A tip if you ever find yourself on the Mosel River between Traben-Trarbach and Bernkastel-Kues: Stop in the Kloster Machern. When I lived on the Mosel about fifteen years ago, the Cloister was abandoned. Someone had the great idea of converting it into a brewery. It’s not a working cloister or monastery, monks neither make nor oversee the beer production. But it is a damned good place to stop and have a pint, or 500 ml, as they sell the beer here.
The beers are more Bavarian than western German, if you take the highly bitter pilsners of the region as examples. There are three, a Helles, a Dunkeles and a Hefewezen. The Helles is served “Keller-style”, that means cloudy. It has a distinctly sweet flavor with a yeasty, bready note and some fruit – I picked out peaches, my German friend told me just to drink the beer. It comes in two sizes, 0.33 liters (12 ounces, approx) and 0.5 liters (a bit over a pint). The Hefeweizen is also cloudy, a very good beer. While I’ve had better Hefeweizens, I don’t know if I’ve ever had one with quite the atmosphere of the Kloster. Their crown jewel is their dunkeles. It’s a dark lager, sweet but not cloying, lots of caramel and dried fruit flavors. It’s the beer I’ll go back for.
The Kloster offers beer in bottles. Since my German friends drank the beer I intended to give a Polish friend, I bought him a complete flight. They’re in flip-top half liter bottles and are clearly marked with a “best-by” date about a month to three months from now. And they are marked clearly that they are brewed according to the Reinheitsgebot.
By the way, I found and bought a stein with the complete text of the Reinheitsgebot written on it. That should be a conversation starter at Oktoberfest.