Ancient Traditions and Cutting-Edge Brewing Technology Meet in Salzburg
Photos courtesy Austrian Tourist Board
The history of beer in Salzburg, Austria’s Beer Capital, goes back well over 600 years. When you visit Salzburg today, you’ll find that this legacy has resulted in a very diverse beer culture, with ancient traditions and cutting-edge brewing technology making their mark in equal measure. There are 11 breweries in Salzburg, and 10 breweries in the city’s immediate surroundings.
One of the most relaxing and pleasant ways to sample Salzburg's beer is a visit to a local beer garden. Sit underneath ancient horse-chestnut trees, surrounded by beautiful views or historic architecture, and enjoy the house brew, accompanied by hearty and excellent local fare. You can take a guided walking tour through Salzburg’s picturesque Old Town, enjoy a beer tasting here and there, and visit a few select breweries. No major celebration in Salzburg is complete without traditional dishes and a good glass of beer. If your timing is good, you’ll be able to attend festivities such as the Maypole celebrations on
May 1 or the Salzburg Harvest Festival, all of which are occasions on which locals love to sport their traditional costume: dirndls and lederhosen.
Mixing the new and the old
True beer connoisseurs will love to visit some of the breweries in Salzburg and compare brewing styles and results. There’s the market leader Stiegl, the long-serving and well-known Augustiner Brewery at the monastery in Mülln, the Weißbierbrauerei or the only organic (BIO) brewery in the world—the Salzburg ‘Gusswerk.’ In many cases, the historic architecture of the old breweries is still intact. In combination with modern brewing techniques and equipment, the result is a unique experience that is typical of the region.
Salzburg’s oldest brewery, and Austria’s biggest, is the Stiegl Brauwelt, on the outskirts of the city. It was founded in 1492, the same year Christopher Columbus set sail for the New World. An elaborate showroom visualizes the company’s history, the brewing process, as well as the special techniques used by Stiegl itself.
The historic Augustiner Bräu Kloster Mülln occupies the halls of a former monastery and still uses old machinery to brew its beer, among which is a huge cooler, which is relatively rare these days. The “Bräustüberl” at the Augustiner Bräu is one of the city’s best-loved beer restaurants, where beer is still served in classic beer steins, and the interior mirrors the historic setting of the brewery itself with its Art Deco design.
By contrast, the Trumer brewery in Obertrum near Salzburg uses state-of-the-art technology to make its beer. Guided tours at World of Trumer are a fun experience that include interactive elements such as a station where you use your sense of smell to identify ingredients. Old recipes are still used by Die Weisse, Salzburg's wheat beer brewery established in 1901: this is where the pale "Weisse," a naturally cloudy wheat beer, is brewed and filled into swing top bottles. These beers, brewed with a lot of love and creativity, taste best fresh from the tap.
True to the brewer's tradition, the tapping of the barrel is announced by ringing a bell. After acquiring all of that hard-earned beer knowledge, you’ll know your Stiegl from your Augustiner Pils and will be able to order like a local when you sit down to enjoy your new favorite brew in the historic ambiance of Salzburg’s Old Town.