Tucked away in the Swiss Alps along winding mountain roads, the charming village of Monstein guarantees visitors a brew with a view.
In 2000, four friends converted a 100-year-old former dairy building into one of the highest-altitude breweries in Europe. By using high quality, locally sourced ingredients, they hoped their beers would attract more travelers and breathe life into the little Alpine hamlet of 190 residents—and it did.
Today the BierVision Monstein brewery has made the village a highlight of the region and a must-see stop on the Davos-Monstein vintage bus tour. The self-proclaimed “Last Beer before Heaven,” the brewery produces five beers year-round, including two organic varieties. The basement tasting room features scores of mugs hanging from hooks on the walls. Names above each mug identify their owners, which include regulars and the brewery’s investors.
At 5,331 feet above sea level, you can be sure that the beer is chilled and the views are spectacular. But there are even greater advantages to brewing in the mountains: Beer is 90 to 95 percent water, and at BierVision, this is sourced from four Alpine springs. Carlo Wasescha, CEO of the brewery, explains that this water is soft, delicious, and needs no processing. Plus, about a third of the malt used is organic mountain barley malt, grown 3,290 feet above sea level or higher.
Operating out of a small village community also fosters sustainable practices. After the brewing process is complete, the wet spent grain, typically considered waste, is upcycled. A nearby bakery uses it to make a long-fermented bread, while a dairy farmer makes cheese flavored with BierVision hops. A local pig farmer and pork butcher use beer and malt in animal feed, as well as grain, beer, hops, and salt to cure meat.
The brewery also dabbles in whisky during the winter when, as Wasescha says, “They don’t have much [else] to do due to the cold temperatures.” The whisky is then folded into a rich, heady eggnog and sold in slim, delicate bottles that make perfect holiday gifts. And if beer and chocolate sound like an odd combination, BierVision’s beer truffles will convince you otherwise.
Monsteiner Huusbier: The brewery’s unfiltered “house beer” is made with mountain hops and roasted barley. It has a creamy head and cloudy golden body, and is deeply aromatic, nutty, and malty, with a touch of tartness.
Monsteiner Weizenbier Häusträffel: BierVision’s wheat beer is made in the style of a German hefeweizen. It’s cloudy, sweet, and smells of banana and clove.
Monsteiner Wätterguoge Bier: A dunkel, or dark German lager, made with smoked malt, this amber brew has delicious notes—caramel, toast, smoke, nuts, milk, fruit, and even shortbread.
Monsteiner Bio Mungga Bier: An organic blonde ale made with wheat and rye. Mungga smells of grain, yeast, and malt underpinned with grass and citrus zest.
Monsteiner SteinBock Bier: This dark lager is made from 90 percent organic mountain barley malt and 100 percent Swiss organic hops.
How to get there
Take a tour on a 1948 cherry-red vintage bus through the lovely Alpine villages and landscapes of Davos. This three-hour-long excursion starts at the Davos Platz tourist office and culminates in a visit and tasting session at the BierVision microbrewery. Tours run from mid-June to mid-October and are available in English or German. For reservations, contact the Davos tourist office. This activity is free of charge with the Davos Klosters Card, which visitors receive upon checking into any hotel in the Davos-Klosters region.
Roshni Bajaj Sanghvi is a food writer, critic, and columnist. This story was adapted from National Geographic Traveller India.