One of the best things about Bavaria is the beer, obviously. First of all, the quality is unquestionable. Besides that, there are an infinite number of breweries to visit. No matter how long you have been living or travelling there, you’ll always find new places to go. But quantity doesn’t always mean variety here. Excessive traditionalism prevents Bavaria from taking off to the craft scene. With just a few variations here and there, most of the places will offer you basically the same styles: Helles, Weissbier, Dunkel, and Radler. But this is something that is slowly changing. And Riegele, from Augsburg, is proof of that.
Located in the third biggest city of the state, Augsburg, Riegele was founded in 1386, under the name of “The Golden Horse Brewery”. Although they changed it to the family name, the logo is still the same today. Sebastian Priller-Riegele, a world champion beer sommelier, is the 28th generation of the Riegele Family to assume the leadership of the Brewery.
Famous for their extremely fresh and unique Kellerbier, and also for being the creator of the widely consumed German Cola called “Spezi”, they are now pretty much stepping into craft territory. Starting from good quality IPAs, Imperial Stouts, and Barrel Aged beers, their approach has been consolidated by some surprising collabs, such as the Bayrisch Ale 2, with US Sierra Nevada.
Augsburg is much smaller than Munich, and it’s not a touristy place like their close neighbour, but you can expect the beer tradition to be about the same here. Riegele is definitely the local’s favourite, and you can easily notice this by taking a walk through the city. Their location is convenient, especially for people travelling from other places to spend the day in town, literally on the platform of the central train station. This way, is quite easy to get there by public transport. Come hungry, come thirsty, and with time, especially if you managed to book one of the few – and disputed – places to attend their brewery tour on Saturdays.
An interesting tour
Unfortunately, it’s offered only in German. But even if you don’t understand a word, it’s worth it! The tour kicks off by the entrance of their restaurant. There lies a historical fountain, containing a beer tap! After a quick chat outside, the guide leads you from the hop garden to quite a long journey through their facilities (about 1:30 hours). You pass through all the phases of beer production, from milling to the cellars with the ancient grains and huge horizontal white fermentation tanks.
There is even a room dedicated to yeast research and propagation – They cultivate their own yeast strains – and this fact explains why their beers are unique and with a very particular flavour, only found here. In the brewhouse, you can try learning some “deutsche” reading the classic german expression used by brewers, painted on the walls: “Hopfen und malz, gott erhalts” (“Hops and malts, God save”).
The last stop is inside the cold cellar. With very “dramatic” ambient music and lowlights, you are invited to walk through the endless numbers of tanks (we almost froze ourselves during this part). But things got better when we were offered to taste the Märzen directly from the tank.
The tour ends inside the restaurant with an “all you can drink and eat” in one hour. There aren’t that many food options, just some pretzels (or brezels in German), sausages, and potato salad. Kellerbier and Pils on tap, and a good selection in bottles: Weizenbock, Doppelbock, Dunkel, Pils, and more. You can book the tour via email, and it costs around 25€ per person. We recommend that you plan this at least two months in advance.
The shop & the beers
If you’re looking to buy some awesome beers and beer gadgets, this is the perfect place. The variety of merchandise available is impressive, and you can also buy exclusive barrel aged beers, and others like the Bayrisch Ale.
These are some beers from their core range that you can also find there:
Commerzienrat Riegele Privat – Helles
Augustus Weizen Doppelbock – Weizenbock
Simco 3 – English Pale Ale
Noctus 100 – Russian Imperial Stout
Dulcis 12 – Belgian Tripel
Robustus 6 – Porter
Æchtes Dunkel – Munich Dunkel
Almost every city in Bavaria has its own brewery, and people are actually very proud of it. Most of them, are more than a hundred years old. But it’s not like you don’t have places to drink craft in the state. There are a few breweries, brewpubs and taprooms with good selections. But the surprising fact about Riegele is that it shows other older brands that traditionalism can walk side by side together with the craft beer revolution. Although usually, these two extremes, the traditional and the craft don’t communicate much, this is something that is changing, and to see such a classic and historical place going craft, is priceless.