Image: TimeRide/Kloster Andechs
The traditional brewery in the Bavarian monastery of Andechs now has a VR program. Beer enthusiasts are in for a treat.
Under the name “TimeRide GO!” TimeRide offers VR attractions in Cologne, Berlin, Dresden, Munich, and Frankfurt. But instead of a guided tour of the city, you’ll be given a VR headset and, at certain locations, the guide will ask you to put it on and travel back in time.
Since 2019, TimeRide has been offering the VR attraction “7,000 Years of Bavarian History” in the center of Munich. It already included virtual time travel to Andechs Monastery, which was founded in 1455. This led to another collaboration with the brewery located south of Munich.
Since July 7, 2023, the brewery offers the “TimeRide GO! Kloster Andechs 360” tour, a virtual reality tour of the brewery.
Again, VR headsets are used to visit specific locations on the brewery grounds. A 45-minute tour (€11.90) or a 90-minute tour (€16.90) is available. A beer tasting is included at the end of the 90-minute tour. Up to 30 VR headsets are available for a tour. I checked out the tour.
When visitors are asked, we all put on our VR headsets. Then we find ourselves in either a digital 3D representation or a 360-degree video. A narrator’s voice explains step-by-step what we are seeing and how the process works. It’s interesting to be told exactly how beer is made. For example, I learn what the four “heroes of beer” are, namely its ingredients: Water, hops, malt and yeast, and how and where they are combined.
In the animation, the kettles are opened, and we can look inside and see what is happening. First, water is added to the hops and malt, and in the next room, yeast is mixed in. These fungal cultures eventually turn the sugar into alcohol.
This is perhaps the greatest strength of this VR tour: the VR headset allows me to go to places inside the brewery that are otherwise invisible due to hygiene and other regulations. As a visitor, I can’t just stand next to the bottling line in the bottling hall. Impressive: Time is briefly slowed down in front of the bottling line, and I can watch the bottles being rotated and sealed with crown caps in slow motion.
New technology meets ancient Bavarian tradition. The Andechs Monastery Brewery is one of the last breweries run by a real religious community. It belongs to the Benedictines of St. Boniface in Munich and Andechs.
But why would I want to book a VR tour instead of just a regular tour – aside from the obvious virtual visit to areas otherwise inaccessible to the public? And why can’t I just watch it at home? “You have to smell and feel a brewery,” says Alexander Reiss, operations and sales manager at the Monastery Brewery, during the first tour for the press. The brew house is muggy and warm, then refreshingly cool in the adjoining fermentation cellar. And the sweet aroma of yeast and hops is everywhere.
There are also visitors who do not immediately feel comfortable in the virtual environment and experience motion sickness. This is probably because most of the scenes are not rendered 3D environments, but 360-degree 3D movies.
In any case, the physical visit has an unbeatable advantage: You can – no, you should – end the day with a visit to the monastery’s beer garden. With a hearty meat loaf, a knuckle of pork and beer or Spezi, as well as a beautiful view over the landscape, the physical-virtual brewery visit is only really complete.