Category Archives: Germany

Funf Seidla Steig

People often ask me and Merideth why we travel to Germany as often as we do. A recent sunny Sunday in Franconia provides a great answer to this question.

The kloster in Weißenohe

Searching for breweries to visit during our time in Bamberg, I noticed a cluster of five breweries to the southeast around the village of Gräfenberg in the Fränkische Schweiz. Intrigued, I researched a bit further and learned about the Fünf Seidla Steig (‘five beer mug hike’), a 10km hiking trail (15km round trip) that connects the breweries. Hiking and beer? What a brilliant idea!

Leaving Ute and Wolfie in Mannheim on Sunday morning, we sped east on the autobahn towards our first destination, the village of Weißenohe. Home to Klosterbrauerei Weißenohe, this was supposed to be our kickoff point for the hike.

Under the trees at Klosterbrauerei Weissenohe

Our plan somewhat hit a hitch when we reached Weißenohe. Besides the small lot at the monastery, we couldn’t really find parking in the tiny village’s winding narrow streets. Hungry and thirsty after the three hour drive, we decided park there rather than continuing to search around for a place to leave our rental car for the day.

A small lane into the monastery split the restaurant from an apple tree shaded beer garden across the street. With the day bordering on absolutely beautiful, we opted for a table in the beer garden.

A proper lunch to start a hike

There was one beer available on tap in the beer garden, their Altfränkisches Klosterbier. Two beers and two orders of bratwurst with bread and potato salad were quickly ordered. The copper-colored brew was reminiscent of a Märzen, with a slight malty sweetness.

Enjoying the brats and beer under the shade of apple trees was perfect start to the day. Even the annoying little girl on the slide couldn’t ruin the moment. Though she did make filming difficult. It was a picture postcard moment of what it means to beer travel in Germany.

Brauerei Friedmann in Gräfenberg

The ability to adapt to changes in plans is key to successful beer travel. After lunch, we decided to drive the few kilometers to Gräfenberg to find parking and start our hike. Just before the village gate, we found the parking we were looking for. And better yet, our second stop, Brauerei Friedmann, was across the street.

Merideth and a couple of Helles…

Grabbing a seat in their street side beer garden, Merideth and I each ordered a Helles. From our vantage point, we watched groups of hikers enter the village and join the crowd in Friedmann’s beer garden.

We recognized a few people from our first stop. Actually, it was the dogs that we recognized first. A trend that would continue the whole day, Merideth and I realized that we were part of a whole community doing the same thing: hiking and drinking beer. The thought gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling.

Well-marked trails make for an easy beer hike

With the car safely in a long-term parking spot, we could now plan our hike. Not knowing the distance of the hike, we decided Friedmann was a ‘one and done’ stop (well, two and done for me). Once our beers were finished, we walked into the village center where we assumed there would be hiking information.

In the Gräfenberg village center, we found what we were seeking, a big map of the local hiking trails. From this, we ascertained we needed to work our way to the far side of the village. There we would find the trail to Hohenschwärz and the next brewery. Brauerei Hoffman was five kilometers away.

A beautiful day for a beer hike…

Easily finding the trail, Merideth and I left Gräfenberg. From the edge of the village, we walked into a forest. We emerged from the woods into the open, surrounded by fields of corn. The terrain was fairly level and made for pleasant, not strenuous, hiking. We passed couples, families, groups of friends, and people of all ages. Everyone out walking on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.

Well-deserved after a five kilometer walk

Reaching Hohenschwärz, we would have found Brauerei Hoffman right along the trail if we hadn’t mistakenly taken a round about route through the tiny village. The Hoffman beer garden was quite packed with hikers and bicyclists when we finally located it. Spying two seats at an otherwise full table, Merideth asked the people “Frei?”  Getting a positive response, we squeezed in at the end of the table.

Pork and beer…

Looking around while waiting for our waitress, I noticed that everyone had a dark beer. Sure enough, from my request for “Zwei Bier, bitte,” our waitress delivered two deep brown, almost black half liters. Despite the dark color, the brew had a light, refreshing body.

Having just walked five kilometers, we treated ourselves by sharing a plate of the delicious Schweinebraten. From pigs I believe they raised themselves, the pork roast paired exceptionally well with the house brew. It’s great when the farm to table distance can be measured in a few meters.

Lindenbräu in Gräfenberg

Two kilometers further up the trail, there was another brewery, Thuisbrunner Eichbräu. But given advancing afternoon, we decided retrace our steps back to Gräfenberg. There was a bounce in our step as we passed through the same fields and forests on our way to Lindenbräu.

Beers to celebrate a hike well done…

Located on a side street in the village, Lindenbräu was our fourth and last brewery stop of the day. Joining an older couple at one of the outside tables, we ordered a couple of beers. Merideth chose the refreshing, light on the banana and clove, Hefeweizen, while I went with the copper-colored, malty but not too sweet, Vollbier.

Our mood was quite jovial as we drank our beers. In a trip full of great days, our day of hiking and beer on the Fünf Seidla Steig very well may have been my favorite. Though we only visited four of the five breweries on the trail, that gives us the perfect excuse to return someday to do the full 15 kilometer loop.

View all the Fünf Seidla Steig images…

 

750 Breweries!

While on our recent trip to Germany, Chris and I visited our 750th brewery! Three quarters of the way to a thousand! Together! The same one!

Catching up to Chris…

That’s right, the one thing I left out of my August post about going to Rogue Farms is that I visited a new brewery, Fire on the Mountain, in Portland that Chris hasn’t been to. That put us even in the brewery count. From here on out (at least until Chris visits the brewery), we will celebrate important List milestones together. It’s very romantic…in a beer geek sort of way.

At the beginning of our trip to Germany in mid-September, we spent three days with our friends Ute and Wolfgang. You may remember them from tales featured in Teachings From The Tap. Excited that we were in Mannheim for several days, they had a number of things planned for us, including brewery visits.

Crossing the Rhine

One of our days started out with a trip to Weisses Haus’l Hausbrauerei in Ludwigshafen, a short distance from Mannheim center. As we crossed the Rhine, the puffing smokestacks of the industrial area gave way to caravan parks and walking trails. A small winding road shrouded in trees led us to the Weisses Haus’l Hausbrauerei. Hidden amongst trees and bushes, the beer garden in front of the brewery seemed like the front yard of a friend’s house.

Starting the day at Weisses Haus’l Hausbrauerei…

The first customers of the day, it was quiet and peaceful, especially with the large Koi pond. To accompany our Weissbiers and Dunkles, we enjoyed Weisser Käse, a creamy white cheese dip/spread. We had never had it before and served on bread, it was the perfect beer drinking snack. This was a quick stop, however, as we had plans to meet up with our friend Tine (Tina in English) in Worms.

Worms is a city that has existed since before the Romans and it battles Trier and Cologne for the title of “Oldest City in Germany.” Given Worms is a stop for all the Rhine river cruises, it could also battle for the Germany’s “Oldest Tourists” title.

A Festbier along the Rhine

More importantly, it is the home of Wormser Hagenbräu. Located on the Rhine, we were warmed by the sun as we sat outside and enjoyed the view of passing barges and people on the promenade.

Their Helles paired well with Chris’ bratwurst and the Festbier with my käsespäztle. Tine got a kick out of signing her name to our personal copy of Teachings From The Tap on the page where she is mentioned (Page 167).

Ute thought it important that we also visit cultural sites, not just breweries on our trip. Coincidentally, Tine, who works in Worms, suggested a visit to some of the city’s historical sites.

Heiliger Sand

We first visited the Jewish cemetery in Worms. Heiliger Sand is the oldest surviving Jewish cemetery in Europe, with the oldest legible tombstone being 1076. As are all cemeteries, it was a solemn, yet peaceful place. Burials continued there up until the 1930s, so some of the markers were clearly legible. Others, however, were pitted and worn by centuries of German weather and leaning every which way by the shifting ground. It was a beautifully spooky landscape that reminded me just how old Europe really is.

The Dom in Worms

We then took a look inside the Dom St. Peter, “one of the finest examples of High Romanesque architecture in Germany.” I wouldn’t know Romanesque architecture from Gothic, but I do know that the gold-gilded high altar was amazing! Feeling pious and sufficiently awed by religious splendor, it was time to return to Mannheim.

Our 750th brewery

We have visited Mannheim numerous times. And Ute and Wolfgang have taken us to several breweries in the area. However, one brewery we had never been to was Eichbaum, located right in the city. Sticking with the motto “Drink local,” Eichbaum is our beer of choice when in Mannheim. I guess it’s so part of our experience there, we never thought to visit the brewery. Ute and Wolfgang once tried to arrange a tour for us, but they don’t offer them.

Across town from Ute and Wolfgang’s flat, we really hadn’t considered going to the brewery’s bräustube until this trip. The most exciting realization after deciding to go was that it would be our 750th brewery visit.

We took the long way to find Eichbaum

We took the light rail over to the Wohlgelegen district of the city. Wolfgang led the way and we made it across the street and down just a few yards. However, he decided that was the wrong way and we instead went the opposite direction and made a huge loop around the block. We eventually located the bräustube. It was just 30 yards from where we started had we continued in our original direction. We laughed at our misguided excursion and joked about lost beer drinking time, but our route offered us a chance to fully understand the mystique of Eichbaum.

Leichen Wasser

Locals lovingly (and sometimes not so lovingly) refer to Eichbaum as “Leichen Wasser” or corpse water. This macabre nickname stems from the fact that the brewery uses a water source that runs under the cemetery across the street. By going the long way around, Chris and I were treated to a glimpse of the cemetery we had heard so much about. This discovery added to the adventure and helped build anticipation around making our milestone brewery visit.

Very modern…

Eichbaum’s bräustube is modern inside with a long sleek bar, green-colored back lighting, and slide show signage. However, the beer garden, feeling like an enclosed courtyard, was much more our speed. Not very crowded outside, we settled into a large round table. Chris, Wolfie and I enjoyed a few Kellerbiers and Ureich Premium Lagers, while Ute opted for, of all things, a Berliner Weiss (the green kind).

Happy 750!

More important than the beer, though, was the fact that we once again shared our beer adventures with Ute and Wolfgang. As we frequently say, beer travel is so much more than the beer. It is the ambiance and the personal interactions.

Finishing up a good day in Mannheim

The heart of beer travel is the way the experience makes you feel. For that reason, we always remember our milestone brewery visits. We also always think that the most recent milestone is the most epic ever. But this time it truly was. Celebrating with dear friends in a city we feel at home in could be nothing less than epic. This amazing achievement couldn’t have been better had Chris planned it ahead of time.

Cheers to milestones and good times spent with good friends. Here’s to many more trips to Mannheim and to the next 750 breweries!

View the images from our Germany trip…

New beergeek.TV Episode – Euro Christmas 2010 Part I

Mikkeller Bar in Copenhagen

“Euro Christmas 2010 Part I” is the latest episode of One Pint at a Time.

Our whirlwind European tour covered six cities in six countries over two weeks. The non-stop itinerary included two favorites, London and Dublin; two new cities, Hamburg and Copenhagen, as well as two that we wanted to explore further, Amsterdam and Brussels.

In this first of two parts, we explore the beer scenes of  Dublin, Hamburg and Copenhagen.

So enjoy our latest beer adventures in Europe…

For all the episodes of One Pint at a Time go to beergeekTV.

Christkindlmarkts and Beer in Hamburg

After three days of seeing friends in London and Dublin, it was time for Merideth and I to move on to the continent and explore some new beer territory. While not a big beer destination like other German cities, Hamburg was our first stop on this phase of our trip. We had heard good things about Germany’s second largest city so after a long day of travel, we were eager to start exploring her streets.

The Christmas market at the Rathaus

Merideth was particular eager because ’tis the season of the Christkindlmarkt, the Christmas markets. Hamburg, being a large city, was guaranteed to have many. On the walk through the Altstadt towards our first beer destination, we found two large markets and several other smaller ones. Despite the large crowds, Merideth was in heaven as she wandered the numerous stalls of the Winterzauber along the Binnenalster and the Hamburger Weihnachtsmarkt at the Rathaus. On this first pass through, I did attempt to hurry Merideth along. We had been up since, 4am and hadn’t had much to eat. Dinner and beers were calling us just a few more minutes away.

Gröninger Privatbrauerei

Maybe disoriented by the wafting scent of cloyingly sweet Glühwein, we got lost in the winding streets of the Altstadt. After a bit of an argument and some quick map-checking, we were again headed in the right direction. Located on a main street in a newer looking part of the city, Gröninger Privatbrauerei’s Braukeller was a welcome sight to weary beer travelers.

The Braukeller was truly a cellar. In the basement level of the building, the stone walled, narrow and long space seemed to go back forever. The brewery was located towards the front with side rooms revealing themselves here and there.

Getting ready to tap a 10 liter barrel

Unfortunately, being only a table of two, we were sat in the very front away from all the action. But we did see huge party after huge party being whisked into the spacious keller. The draw for huge parties, besides ample room, was the communal platters  of yummy-looking German food, pork, sausages, potatoes and sauerkraut.  However, the coolest thing was the 10 liter wooden barrels of beer that the table could share.

Merideth's dinner at Gröninger Privatbrauerei

Ten liters of beer was a bit much for just the two of us so we settled on each getting a half liter of Pils. I followed the Pils with their Weisse, a refreshing wheat beer that was very light on the banana and cloves.

The food was buffet style and hit the spot. While I went for the local ham with potatoes, Merideth was entranced by the crackling on top of the pork belly which she also accompanied with potatoes.

Creepy Santa and his angel on cloud

My belly full of pork and beer, I was ready to fully to confront the Christmas market at the Rathaus, seemingly the largest and most crowded. We wandered what felt like endless aisles of booths, rubbing shoulders with the fellow market goers in the narrow alleys. Merideth mostly focusing on the crafts. I, on the other hand, was trying find someone pouring beer.

We got there just in time to see Santa and a girl on a cloud fly back and forth above the market. In the middle, the sled would stop and Santa recited Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer in German. Unfortunately, Santa had a mean and somewhat terrifying voice. The Germans didn’t seem to be freaked out like I was and burst into singing Rudolf in English once Santa was done and the song started playing.

The Venice of Germany

Sufficiently traumatized by the scary Santa, I needed another beer. Luckily, Brauhaus Joh. Albrecht was just around the corner. Well, just around the corner if we had gone the correct way. After walking in the wrong direction, we doubled back and found the hopping brewpub located next to one of the city’s canals.

Albrecht likes to decorate for the holidays

The festive and busily decorated brewpub was packed with fellow Christmas market goers seeking a break from the madness. Merideth and I arrived just in time for another couple to get up from one of the high tables in the bar area. We pounced on the chance and had our bags around the table even before the previous occupants could vacate.

Drinking a Weihnachtsbock and Brahaus Joh. Albrecht

Merideth began with the Helles. I started with their Weihnachtsbock, their Christmas beer. Merideth was very pleased with her Helles and I concurred. The Christmas beer, on the other hand, was too light in body for my taste. I followed my first beer up with the Dunkel, which suffered the same issue in my eyes.

After two beers, we were ready for the short walk back to our hotel and a warm bed. It had really been a long day. But we were smiling because we finished it in our beloved Germany.

Holsten brewery

The following morning, we got a late start as it was the first day we could relax and catch up on things. When we finally left our hotel room, our first destination was the Holsten brewery, two S-Bahn stops and a short walk away. Not knowing what to expect, it’s proximity was an easy decision of ‘let’s go check it out.’ We found it quite easily but nothing was open, not even the beer shop on Saturday afternoon.

The Fab Four were Reeperbahn legends

Our abbreviated visit to Holsten put us a short 15 minute walk from Hamburg’s famous (or infamous) Reeperbahn, it’s red light district. Famous for brothels, strip clubs, sex shops and the birthplace of the Beatles, the Reeperbahn would be our first European red light district. I have to admit, our stroll down the street with the other daytime gawking tourists was a bit of a letdown. Until we came to their Christmas market.

Don't know if I want this Santa coming down my chimney

Santa Pauli, Hamburg’s alternative Christmas market, was only about 100 yards long, but it was where all the cool kids hung out. Similar to many other markets, Santa Pauli had bratwurst, Glühwein and booths selling gifts. But is also had hand-made sex toys, shiny metal fetish gear and a strip club, which was not open when we were there. Merideth and I left Santa Pauli with some disturbing images in our minds and big smiles on our faces.

Later that night, we returned to Santa Pauli to meet an Irish friend living in Hamburg. After a couple of sickly sweet Astras at the market, Keith took us to his local in St. Pauli, a quiet little corner pub. Our first Hamburg beer adventure was over. While not the greatest beer town, we thoroughly enjoyed our two days in Hamburg. The following morning, Merideth and I were on a plane to Copenhagen.

View all the Hamburg images

New beergeek.TV Episode – Die WM in Deutschland

Merideth and Wolfie on the vuvuzela

“Die Weltmeisterschaft in Deutschland” is the latest episode of One Pint at a Time.

For two years, we’d been dreaming of watching the world’s greatest sporting event while in Germany. Arriving the last day of group play for both the United States and Germany, we stayed through the quarterfinal stage of the World Cup.

This trip will always hold a special place for us. Watching Germany demolish both England and Argentina, the intensity of the matches, and the joys of the celebrations were all absolutely remarkable. But what we’ll remember most is that we spent these great beer travel moments with friends.

So enjoy our latest beer adventures in Germany…

For all the episodes of One Pint at a Time go to beergeekTV.