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Beer was not invented in Germany, but it can easily be argued to be the beer capital of the world. The country is home to around 5,000 different beers brewed in over 1,300 breweries. Few places can compete with that – and it’s even more impressive considering the German Beer Purity Law, which permits only the traditional ingredients of water, malt, hops and yeast.
Bayreuth: City of 1,000 Beers
Of Germany’s 1,300 breweries, more than half find their home in Bavaria. Leading the way is Bayreuth, which has the highest density of breweries in the world. Here, visitors can experience upwards of 1,000 different beers (coming from 200-plus breweries). Maisel’s Beer Adventure World is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s most extensive beer museum. Visitors can learn the history of beer, take a tour of the brewing facilities, and, most importantly, enjoy a beer tasting.
The Hofbräuhaus: A Beer Temple
A trip to Bavaria would be incomplete without a stop at the world-famous Hofbräuhaus beer hall at Am Platzl in the old quarter. While it once was a brewery, it now functions as the largest beer hall in the world, serving 30,000 guests every day. It’s the closest thing there is to a “beer temple.”
Munich’s Oktoberfest: The World’s Most Famous Beer Festival
Munich, the capital of Bavaria, may also be the country’s beer capital. During Oktoberfest, the world’s biggest beer festival (held yearly from mid-September to early October), Munich brings in approximately six million people from across the globe. The original Oktoberfest dates to 1810 as a celebration for a royal wedding; now it’s synonymous with the Theresienwiese grounds, classic Bavarian fare, oompah bands, and, of course, beer straight from the barrel.
With a total of 13 wine-growing regions, Germany isn’t just home to beer but a wide range of wines, as well. In fact, the world’s largest wine festival takes place in Germany (and it dates back 600 years). The event, Wurstmarkt (which actually translates to sausage market), takes place in the town of Bad Dürkheim. The location, set in Germany’s premier wine-growing location, draws roughly 600,000 people over the course of its two-weekend celebration.
The Ahr Valley: A Red Wine Paradise
The hillsides along the Ahr River are very suitable for growing grapes, although it’s about as harsh of a location that winegrowers must withstand. The valleys are steep and very warm, but that doesn’t prevent nearly 500 winegrowers from exploiting the region. Ancient Romans appreciated the climate and the fruit it bore; now, the Ahr valley is known as a “red wine paradise” and specializes in pinot noir. Picture-perfect scenery and a glass of red wine at a first-rate restaurant are two great reasons to stop here.
The Middle Rhine: An Agricultural Landmark
The region along the Rhine between Bingen and Bonn is renowned for its landscapes (including the Loreley rock) and castles. It was also granted UNESCO World Herritage status for its vineyard-sculpted countryside. The warm air that drifts in from the south and the mild winters make this region perfect for growing riesling, which accounts for 70 percent of the grapes grown here.
The Palatinate Region: A Historic Tour of Wine
Did someone say wine tour? The Palatine wine region is famous for its German Wine Route, a scenic route that connects several towns associated with winemaking. Geared towards visitors, the route is the oldest of its kind in the world – with both walking and cycling trails as options. Palatinate is the largest producer of riesling in the world and is the largest red wine-making region in Germany, so there’s something for everyone.
Stuttgart: 2,000 Years of Winegrowing History
The city of Stuttgart is home to a variety of wine-related destinations: The Stuttgart Wine Trail is a circular route that hits all the vineyards, with a few scenic lookouts and attractions along the way; The “Besenwirtchaften” (“broom taverns”) are temporary wine taverns that serve up their own wine from a handled glass, not a traditional stemmed glass. (The name comes from the custom of owners hanging a broom over their door to let everyone know they’re open.) Stuttgart's Museum of Viniculture, founded in 1979, displays the past and present of winegrowing; And the Stuttgart Wine Festival offers visitors 125 different wine stalls serving over 500 different types of wines from the Baden and Württemberg wine regions.