Hike-n-Beer, Garmisch Edition

The rain of the previous day cleared out overnight and Sunday dawned sunny and warm. With not-so-epic weather scheduled to come back in on Monday, this needed to be the day for our favorite travel activity, hiking in the Alps.

Olympic Ski Stadium

The hike I had picked out for us was to the Schachenhaus, a hütte (hut) at 1,866 meters (5,598 feet) in the mountains above Garmisch-Partenkirchen. A retreat built by King Ludwig II between 1869 and 1872, the Schachenhaus, like all hüttes, now serves as a rest stop for weary hikers. And we planned being quite weary after the three and a half hour journey.

The kickoff point for the hike was Garmisch’s Olympic Ski Stadium, home of the 1936 Winter Games. When we arrived, the gravel parking lot was already bustling with people getting all their gear together for a day in the mountains. After admiring the ski jumps, which we had never seen before in person, and checking out the stadium, we set off up the paved road.

Merideth about to enter the Partnach Gorge…

After a short walk along the road, we reached a crossroads in our hike. We could take the upper or lower trail. The highlight of the lower trail was the Partnachklamm, a walking path carved into a narrow gorge. We chose the scenic route, paid the €6 admission and donned our rain gear.

Entering the narrow gorge, the 800 meter walk was quite stunning with the sun streaming through the narrow slit at the top of the 80 meter high walls. Water streamed down the walls, falling like rain. Numerous waterfalls emptied into the Partnach River that cascaded with a large force through the narrow channel.

Nice view

Exiting the gorge and back into the bright sunlight, this was where our hike kind of went awry. Following signs for the Schachenhaus, we didn’t go the wrong way, rather the long way. The VERY LONG way.

It was a very pleasant walk up a not-too-steep grade with incredible views of the nearby peaks.  At some point, the time on the signs jumped from three hours to four and a half hours. Consulting a map, it was at this point we realized that we had taken the long trail that wrapped all the way around the mountain.

Heading back down…

It was decision time. Unfortunately, we surmised it was too late to continue on the trail we were on and make it to the Schachenhaus. It was also too late to backtrack and get on the correct trail. We decided to head back down and visit the Hintergraseck hütte. We had seen the trail to it on the way up.


Admittedly, I was pretty mopey on the way down. We set a lofty goal of having lunch at almost 6,000 feet in the Bavarian Alps but never made it out of the tree line. Instead, I worried, we were going to mingle with tourists dressed for a Sunday outing in town.

My mood changed when we settled into our seats on the edge of the Hintergraseck’s patio. We were amongst our fellow hikers all enjoying beers and the beautiful weather. With Paulaner Hefeweizen in hand, Merideth and I marveled at the panoramic view of the Alpine peaks. And lunch was very Bavarian. Merideth ordered Leberkäse while I went with the Landjäger, semi-dried sausage. We even had time to make a friend, the hütte’s sheep dog who split time between playing with us and watching over his sheep.


With a few beers in me, I was in a better mood on the final descent. Even encountering scores of normal tourists along this part of the trail couldn’t ruin my contented feeling. Almost back in civilization, we stopped at another hütte, where we each enjoyed more Hefeweizens and split a yummy Apfelstrudel. Continuing on after dessert, we were back at our car in a few minutes.

The silver lining to not accomplishing our goal, besides spending a great day together, is that we will need to return some day to try again. And now I know exactly what trail we need to go up.

View all the images from our day…

Alpine Ramblings

After a couple of days Munich, Merideth and I headed south for the Bavarian Alps. The last phase of our trip, the focus of our time in the mountains would be hiking and the great outdoors. Of course, we also found time to visit a few breweries.

Mühlfeldbräu in Bad Tölz

Leaving Munich mid-morning, we arrived at our first destination, Bad Tölz, in no time. A town along the Isar River with a rich history, we were there to visit  its brewery, Mühlfeldbräu. Located along the main thoroughfare, Merideth and I were the first customers of the day.

First beer of the day…

An anomaly of German breweries we have visited, Mühlfeldbräu was café-like: bright and airy with a very modern decor. I don’t say that in a bad way. Just that in a beer culture built on tradition, different stands out.

Sitting at one of the high tables in front of the counter, Merideth and I each enjoyed one of the pleasant house-brewed Helles. The decor might have non-traditional, but the beer was very Bavarian.


Bad Tölz was only a quick stop and Merideth and I were soon headed south again on our journey to the Alps. Hopping onto the Deutsche Alpenstraße, we were on familiar ground having driven the scenic road on several occasions.

Despite its charm and idyllic Bavarian setting, we avoided Oberammergau on our previous visits to the area. Famous for the town’s production of the Passion Play, Oberammergau is a very, very popular tourist destination. But now we had a reason to visit Oberammergau, there was a brewery in town.

Ammergauer Maxbräu in the Hotel Maximillian

Ammergauer Maxbräu was located in the Hotel Maximillian. Luckily for us, it was on the periphery of the tourist-laden center of the village. An amazing, glorious day with bright blue skies, there was no question we were going to enjoy their beers and some lunch, in the beer garden.

Merideth enjoying a gorgeous day in Bavaria

When I woke up in the morning, I never thought we would be part of a wedding party that day. I chose our particular table because it was right next to a really cool fountain. Moments after sitting down, a waitress started setting up the table a few feet from us with champagne flutes. Sure enough, a few minutes later, a small wedding party arrived and mingled around the table. Admittedly, we felt a bit odd, wondering whether we should move. The wedding party didn’t seem to mind, so we stayed put. Merideth and I cheered the happy couple.

The beers were nice and it was a wonderful lunch. Merideth enjoyed the Klassik Flammkuchen. Being a bit porked out (blasphemy), I was very un-Bavarian and went with the Junger Blattsalat, a big salad.

Kloster Ettal

After a quick walk through the center of Oberammergau, it was time for us to head back down the Deutsche Alpenstraße towards our final destination of the day, Garmisch-Partenkirchen. A few miles down the road, Kloster Ettal, with its massive dome, dominates the landscape. Though it was already on The List, we could not pass right by without stopping.

Merideth drinking a Etaller Helles

We set up at the cafe in front of the monastery mainly because the beer gardens across the street were already in the shade. While watching multitudes our fellow tourists, bikers, elderly, families pass by, we finished the day’s alpine ramblings enjoying the Kloster’s Helles and Benediktiner Weizen.

View all the images from the day…

Rainy and overcast in the Alps…

The following day could not have been more different. Clouds and rain came in overnight shrouding the craggy Alpine peaks in mist. Being a veteran beer traveler, I already had a Plan B for such an occasion. Scrapping our planned hike in the hills above Garmisch-Parternkirchen, we headed towards the nearby Austrian border.

Hotel Thaneller, home of Stadl-bräu, the highest-altitude brewery in Austria.

In less than an hour, we were in the Austrian village of Berwang. A thriving ski area, the village was eerily deserted in the September rain. Parking across the street from Hotel Thaneller, we surmised it wasn’t a total ghost town as there was another car also in the gravel lot. Merideth and I wandered into the equally deserted lobby in search of their Hausbrauerei, Stadl-bräu.

A rainy day beer…

We finally located the brewpub on the second floor and even found people (staff). Oddly, there seemed to be a multitude of them, given that it was only the two of us in the whole restaurant. We grabbed an out of the way table in the front room.

With nothing much planned for the day, we  enjoyed a few beers and leisurely lunch, splitting an order of the Jägerschnitzel.

View all the Berwang images…

Merideth in rainy Eisenberg

Looping back into Germany, we were on our way to the village of Eisenberg and its brewery, the Maria Hilfer Sudhaus. Finding the brewery on the Interwebs, what intrigued me was their Allgäuer Bier–Käse Wanderung, a five stop beer and cheese walk in the village.

One the one hand, the rainy weather was the reason we had time to visit Maria Hilfer Sudhaus. The downside was, when we arrived, the rain was the heaviest of the day, preventing any sort of walk except a quick dash to the brewpub’s front door.

A busy day at Maria Hilfer Sudhaus

Walking in, we immediately faced a couple that seemingly were waiting for a table. Proceeding to the main dining area, we were confronted with a packed room, everyone enjoying a hearty lunch on the rainy afternoon. All the tables were full, except for one, a large pie-shaped table that was completely empty. Merideth and I immediately thought it was the Stammtisch, but the sassy waitress gestured to us that we could sit there. Admittedly, we didn’t feel comfortable until more people joined us at this huge table (Later, I spotted the real Stammtisch nearby).

A couple of Vollbiers at Maria Hilfer Sudhaus

Soon, we had two Vollbiers and a basket of pretzels sitting in front of us. The food looked really good, especially the Schweinebraten. We really should have split a plate but munched on some pretzels instead.

We thought about playing scrabble. But people continued to stream in and we felt bad about taking up a table to play a board game. Finished with our beers and satisfied with adding two breweries to The List, we returned to Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

View all the Eisenberg images…