Dark beer and dumplings in Bavaria: a visit to the world’s oldest monastic brewery

[Travel ★★★★]


(P1) Weltenburg Abbey stands on a bend of the upper Danube, deep in a wooded gorge where the river cuts through the white limestone cliffs of the Fränkische Alb mountains, about 25 miles west of Regensburg in Bavaria. The abbey church, a spectacular concoction of late-baroque flamboyance, is worth the journey, but the main draw for most visitors is alcoholic rather than spiritual. The abbey houses the oldest monastic brewery in the world, which first started brewing in 1050 and produces a number of beers, the most popular being a dark, almost black, beer known as Kloster Barock Dunkel. It’s a lovely thing to sip in the beer garden in the abbey courtyard, accompanied by roast schweinshaxe (pork knuckle) and Bavarian dumplings, and is also available in bottles to take away.

(P2) The abbey was founded in AD620, but the current buildings date from the early 18th century. The highlight is the interior of St George church, designed by late-baroque architects Cosmas and Egid Asam, with a combination of frescoes, stucco, and sculpture. Outside the monastery, there are great walks through the deep wooded gorge and into the surrounding hills.

(P3) As there is no road through the gorge, visitors arriving by car must park in nearby Weltenburg village and walk along the riverside track. Much better, however, is to park on the quayside in Kelheim, three miles downstream, and catch one of the frequent boats that follow the winding gorge to the monastery landing stage. And if you end up overdoing the Kloster Barock Dunkel, there’s aways the option of overnighting in the monastery guesthouse (from €54 a night B&B).

WORDS: 268

SOURCE: https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2016/dec/14/dark-beer-bavaria-oldest-monastic-brewery-in-world-weltenburg-abbey-germany

VOCABULARY: gorge, concoction, baroque, flamboyance, monastic, frescoes, stucco, quayside


If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly, summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Describe the picture above of Weltenburg Abbey and it’s surroundings.
  3. Are you interested in going to this destination for a weekend getaway? Why or why not?
  4. Describe the architecture of a building in your country.


  1. What is the name of the waterway that Weltenburg Abbey overlooks?
  2. The abbey used to be a place of worship where monks resided (T or F)
  3. Beer in bottles can be consumed in the abbey as well as purchased for _________.
  4. There are plenty of parking spaces at the abbey for visitors. (T or F)
  5. Where can you sleep overnight at the abbey?


What do the following expressions or phrases mean?

  • the river cuts through (P1)
  • in bottles to take away (P1)
  • the riverside track (P3)
  • winding gorge (P3)

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Image source: by Val Thoermer/Getty Images https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2016/dec/14/dark-beer-bavaria-oldest-monastic-brewery-in-world-weltenburg-abbey-germany

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