In Switzerland, you have likely seen the green bottles of an Appenzeller Bier known as Quöllfrisch, a well-known lager with a traditional Swiss landscape on its label. In northeastern Switzerland, Brauerei Locher makes Appenzeller Bier with spring water from the impressive Alpstein mountains. If you enjoy drinking and learning about Swiss beer, I recommend stopping in at the visitor center for a self-guided audio tour and beer tasting.
In particular, here are five reasons why you should consider a visit to the Brauquöll Appenzell visitor center, which opened in 2011:
1. It’s a family-owned, independent brewery – A brewery has existed at the current site of the Brauerei Locher since 1810. Over 75 years later, Johann Christoph Locher purchased the brewery in 1886. Today, it has remained in the same family for five generations.
2. The company has made a commitment to Swiss ingredients – While you will not tour the actual brewery during your visit, you will certainly learn about the beer-making process. The malting barley used to brew Appenzeller Bier comes from the Swiss canton of Graubünden via a partnership with Gran Alpin, a grain cooperative with about 90 mountain farms. According to the brewery’s website, the fields where the malting barley is grown are the highest in Europe, between 1200 and 1700 meters above sea level.
3. Appenzeller Bier produced the first certified organic beer in Switzerland. Its Naturperle is the first beer in Switzerland to earn the “Bio Suisse” label. Today, this brewery produces several other organic beers, such as the Gran Alpin and its Calvinus Blonde and Blanche beers.
4. You get to try many different types of Appenzeller beer – After the free self-guided audio tour, which takes about 40 minutes—including a short film in the historic hops cellar, you can participate in a beer tasting in the cozy, wood-paneled Gnoss-Stöbli. While the self-guided tour can be taken any time during the center’s opening hours, you must make a reservation for the tasting in advance (CHF 8.50 per person). This option is available for groups between 10 to 50 people, and you should budget approximately 50 minutes for this activity. During the tasting, we got to try about 10 different beers, ranging from the HOI beers to a Ginger Beer and the Vollmond Bier, which is brewed during the night of a full moon.
Please note: With the Appenzeller Card* (see details below), we arrived for the tour on a Monday at 1:00 p.m. (as required) and participated in the tasting for free.
5. Appenzell is a great place to visit – If you have not been to the Swiss town of Appenzell, you should definitely plan a trip. The distinctive Appenzeller architecture, with colorful facades in the town center and typical farmhouses in the countryside, is quite unique. And, in the backdrop, you have the Alpstein massif, with some incredible hiking routes, one of which takes you to the famous Berggasthaus Äscher-Wildkirchli, recently featured on the cover of National Geographic’s Destinations of a Lifetime.
Brauerei Locher AG, CH-9050 Appenzell, Tel. +41 71 788 01 40,
*Appenzeller Card: If you stay for at least three nights at a participating hotel, mountain inn, holiday apartment or bed and breakfast, you will receive an Appenzeller Card, which entitles you to discounts on various attractions and activities, like a chance to sample beer at the Appenzeller Brewery.