Montag, 28. September 2015

Autumn, Apples and Art in the Hallertau



"Ask Elli a question!" challenges Tildy, jumping onto our bed as if it were a trampoline, and promptly putting an end to a nice little Saturday morning lie-in. It's not quite 7 AM.


"Uuu-gh", I respond, rubbing my eyes, only to find a toy elephant doing the splits on my belly. "Ask Elli a question!" Matilda repeats. For a moment I lie there wondering why kids insist on calling their furry toys such predictable, unoriginal names: Our daughter has a toy hamster called Hamsti, a bear called Bärli and a "Marienkäfer"- German for ladybird - called, you've guessed it, Käfi. 


"So, Elli", I say, giving in, "What did you do last night?"

So this is what my life in Germany has finally come to - chatting up soft toys in bed.

"I played with my trunk!", replies Elli, in a voice not dissimilar to Matilda's.

Ah well, ask a silly question.

Either way there's no time for lying around in bed this morning. At 9 AM sharp I have an appointment at the local juice-making centre. Our little orchard has produced a bumper crop of apples this year. But there's only so many apples you can eat - and give away. So with 80 kg of apples packed in laundry baskets I head off for the nearest “Mosterei”, 15 km down the road in Abensberg.

The following pictures show the transformation of fruit to juice. I was surprised just how quickly and efficiently it happened. But this is Germany, of course.

Last ones down the ramp and we're good to go.

The whole process takes less than an hour. And it doesn't cost an arm and a leg either. 50 € seems a very fair price for 16 x 5 kg cartons of juice, which will hopefully keep us going well into next year.

It's barely 10 AM, so instead of heading straight back home I park in the centre of Abensberg and set off and explore this medieval town, which is often overshadowed by bigger brothers Regensburg and Ingolstadt. Abensberg boasts a jewel of a town centre, with a car-free main square, criss-crossed by scores of sleepy little alleyways, crammed with turret-fronted houses, like these below. Ideal for strolling on a clear blue sky autumn weekend.
Abensberg's best-loved landmark is the Kuchlbauer Turm, designed by the world-famous Friedensreich Hundertwasser. Completed in 2010, it certainly clashes with the town's otherwise oldy-worldy architecture, and when you see it the very first time you'll probably do a double take in disbelief. It's almost unreal. The statement-making construction is part of Kuchlbauer's Bierwelt. Founded back in the 14th century, Kuchlbauer is the oldest wheat - also called white - beer in Germany. 
Hang on a moment..
       Just below the large golden onion dome.
To be allowed up the tower you have to take the 12 € tour. Still, I'm glad I go in today because it's worth every cent. You see not only the bottling side of the brewery but also Engel Aloisius, the patron saint of beer drinkers in Bavaria (below), the so-called "wheat beer dwarves" (our guide tells me they also speak in English on the international tour) and, tucked away in a corner of the cellar, a sensational half-scale interpretation of Leonardo da Vinci's "The Last Supper".

Of his work, Hundertwasser said "I want to show how basically simple it is to have paradise on earth. And everything that the religions and dogmas and the various political creeds promise, is all nonsense." No wonder the church tower of Kuchlbauer's "Kunsthaus", just next door, is three times more wobbly than the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

To be honest, this is more art than  beer tour. I can imagine learning a lot more about beer making at, say Löwenbrau or Hacker Pschorr. Still, it's a colourful insight into one of the world's oldest breweries. I'll definitely do the tour again when we have visitors from the UK. Even if it's only to see a bunch of Bavarian beer dwarves chatting away in English.
Oh, and another reason to go again: the tour ends in the neighbouring Biergarten, with a delicious wheat beer and brezel - both free. 

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