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How Carl Hirnbein taught people to produce alpine cheese

by Svenja Rödig  • 2018-11-21 • Report • Allgäu
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  • Storing cheese
    Storing cheese
    Photo: Thalkircher Dorfhaus
Green meadows, dairy cows and dairies – that is how the Allgaeu is known today. But the tradition of dairy farming is just over 150 years old. The Allgaeu’s rise to the center of cheese production goes back to one very ambitious man: Carl Hirnbein.

Until the middle of the 19th century, the Allgaeu was a very poor region. Farmers made their living with agriculture and cultivating flax. Turning flax into linen is laborious handcraft. However, the steep and low in nutrients alpine meadows were not very suitable for this and rising of the American cotton trade plunged the region into a serious crisis.

Going green

One man was aware of this problem and made a bold decision: to turn the Allgaeu into a dairy and cheese region. The farmer’s son Carl Hirnbein (*1807) grew up around cattle at his parents dairy farm in Wilhams. He looked after and milked cows and even guided cattle across the Alps to Italy.

Carl Hirnbein’s story of success

The business skills he acquired as a young man had a lasting effect on his thinking. He met skilled workers during his trade travels. He brought them to his home region so that they could share their knowledge on how to produce various type of cheese. Moreover, he bought roughly 100 alpine pastures which earned him the title “King of the Alps”.

Allgaeu dairies

Hirnbein sold his products all over Germany – with huge success. Thus, he became a role model for many other farmers. The dairy industry was the basis of a new livelihood. Today, there are numerous dairies in the Allgaeu that produce tasty cheese and even provide the opportunity to watch them work.

Visiting Carl Hirnbein’s place of birth

If you want to learn more about the life of the King of the Alps, you should visit his home village Missen-Wilhams. The Carl-Hirnbein-Museum gives you a good insight into the life and work of the well-known landowner. For a more active history lesson, the Carl-Hirnbein-Trail takes you from Missen to Weitnau and teaches young and grown-up hikers about the region and its people. At the Maienhof, which was built in the middle of the 19th century by Hirnbein’s father, the Allgäuer Hof Milch GmbH produces products from regional hey milk. User
Svenja Rödig 
Updated: 2018-11-21


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