Not only one of the longest but also one of my favorite of the beer trails in Franconia, the 13-Brewery Way is dotted with some of the finest breweries in a quality rich area. It’s relative easy accessibility makes for a grand route that can be broken into segments and done separately so don’t let its 33km length scare you. Though it’s not a true circuit that will bring you back to where you started, it does begin and end at very easy to access points. With 13 breweries, you won’t go thirsty. If you have time and plan your rooms, you could certainly spend three or four days enjoying this area and its beer!
Breweries: 12 (Drei Kronen and Höhn in Memmelsdforf, Hummel and Wagner in Merkendorf, Göller in Drosdendorf, Knoblach in Schammelsdorf, Hönig in Tierfenellern, Hölzlein and Reh in Lohndorf, Griess and Krug (sadly, recently closed too) in Geisfeld (as well as the Griess Keller just south of the village) and Sauer in Rossdorf (as well as the Rossdorferkeller just outside the village). Unfortunately, the 13th brewery (Winkler in Melkendorf) stopped brewing in 2015. Their vollbier was amongst the best on this route and is sadly missed.
Memmelsdorf & the Drei Kronen
Distance: 33 km
Starting Point: Memmelsdorf is a small pleasant town featuring a stunning castle just on the its outskirts. It is easily reached by frequent buses from Bamberg (10-20 minutes depending on route). Both the Drei Kronen and Höhn have rooms if you want to spend the night before walking and with two breweries in town, that’s not a bad option as the town is pleasant and scenic enough, especially if you’d like to visit the castle.
Brauerei Höhn & Drei Kronen’s Roast Goose & Stöffla (a beauty of a Rauchbier)
Stage 1: Memmelsdorf to Merkendorf (3.5 km). A walk on small Franconian roads so not much traffic if lacking in forest or shade in summer. Slightly less regular bus service to Merkendorf from Bamberg and Memmelsdorf if you want to skip this section. Typical countryside scenery with some distant views of the Geischburg. Hummel arranges rooms though none at the actual brewpub if you get a late start from Memmelsdorf.
Brauerei Wagner: their formidable mixed meat plate
Stage 2: Merkendorf to Drosendorf (2.5 km). Similar type scenery and trail as Stage 1 with Brauerei Göller waiting for you in this small village. I don’t believe there is anywhere to stay there. Slightly less regular buses serve Drosendorf if you want to shorten your overall walk or are constrained for time.
Brauerei Göller in Drosendorf
Stage 3: Drosenforf to Schammelsdorf (3.5 km). This trail is more varied than the first two stages with some stretches of forest intermingled with back roads. There are also some nicer views of the Geichburg as it’s much closer. You are now off the beaten path with the reward of Brauerei Knoblach awaiting you, with great food and fine line-up of excellent beers. They don’t have rooms but there are a few available nearby. Worth an overnight stop. You can also start the walk here as there is fair service here from Bamberg.
My wife hiking through the leaves to a nice hot meal at Brauerei Knoblach but sitting in the Biergarten in summer isn’t bad, either
Stage 4: Schammelsdorf to Tiefenellern (6.5 km). Though one of the longest stretches, it is also perhaps the most beautiful. It’s a classic Franconian beer trail with hilly sections and lots of dense green forest. At the end of the route is Brauerei Hönig, another one of the very best of not only this trail but all of Franconia. No rooms at the brewery but some in the village. This entire valley is served by irregular bus service.
The scenic trail to Tiefernellern & classic Brauerei Hönig
Stage 5: Tiefenellern to Lohndorf (2.5 km). You can walk through the valley on the bike bath that loosely follows the road. It’s a little shorter and flatter but taking the slightly longer (and uphill) route will give you nice views. It also brings you out at the Landgasthof Lohntal. It’s an upscale hotel if you want to spend the night but if not, they were the only place in town that has local brewery Reh’s beers on tap. Hopefully, they will return if and when the restaurant reopens. The actual brewery is down in the valley as is the Brauerei Hölzlein.
Scenic views from trail to charming Lohndof with Brauerei Hölzlein
Stage 6: Lohndorf to Geisfeld (5.5 km). This stretch has lost its midway stop now that Winkler is no longer brewing in Merkendorf but it’s a pretty section with mixed terrain. There are two great breweries and one of the top Bierkellers in Franconia at the end of the trail. Neither Griess nor Krug have rooms but there are a few options in this pleasant little village. With the Griess Keller on the edge of town, it’s worth an overnight stop for sure.
Trail to Geisfeld, Grieskeller (and it’s cold roast pork) and Brauerei Krug
Stage 7: Geisfeld to Rossdorf (3 km). This is a busy section for bikes as it’s on a bierkeller bike path. It’s still a nice enough section and the reason it’s so busy is there is yet another classic Bierkeller on the edge of the village, the Rossdorfer Felsenkeller, the local Brauerei Sauer’s summer outlet.
Brauerei Sauer and their summer Felsenkeller in Rossdorf
Stage 8: Rossdorf to Strullendorf train station (4.5 km). This is an easy stretch though the day I did it, I was walking from Huppendorf, over 20 km away so it seemed tough after stopping at two Bierkellers. There is yet another Bierkeller (Schwanenkeller) about 2 km from the train station if you are running early or spending the night in Strullendorf
The trail to Strullendorf
How to get there? Ample buses from Bamberg to Memmelsdorf. There are also buses to Drosendor, Schammelsdorf, through the Lohntal, Geisfeld and Rossdorf. These buses are not as frequent so don’t count on them but good to know they are there. Regular trains travel from Strullendorf in the direction of both Bamberg and Nürnberg. You could do the trail in reverse but it’s always nice to have a train at the end of the trip as generally more regular. Also, at least for me, the beer is better (and generally hoppier) from Schammelsdorf on.
If you have any questions about access, please drop me a line. If you’re not up to doing it on your own, I’m available for guided trips into this pretty valley with timeless breweries.
Not your kind of walk? How about the Ahorntal Brauerienweg?
If you’d like to find out more about beer hiking around all of Bavaria, please consider consulting my book, Beer Hiking Bavaria oder auf Deutsch: Bierwandern Bayern.