When it comes to traveling, I’ve never been big on going back to the same places and I tend to do the same with beery destinations too. The lure of the unexperienced is strong for me and going to new breweries is one of the driving forces behind creating Beer Wanderers. That said, going to old places is like visiting an old friend. You don’t have to do any research and you know you can count on them. After my 4 day 100km trek past 18 breweries this past summer, one of my friends from the US was keen to come over and do something similar but time was at a premium so I figured I could show him the granddaddy of the Franconian beer circuits: the Fünf Seidla Steig. I planned it for the day following a pair of bock beer tappings I already had planned on attending. When he backed out due to high plane fares, I decided to stick with the plan as I’d been lucky to get a room at the main brewery on the hike.
The Scenic Fünf Seidla Steig
It all looked good when off in the future but after a busy summer with a few visitors, I was none too keen to head out on my own and with a dismal weather forecast, I was all but ready to throw in the towel. The bock beer tappings had been fantastic and I was ready to head home the next morning, not really in the mood to hike or drink more beer to be honest. I ventured from Bamberg to Gräfenberg nevertheless and once I’d settled into my first beer and a fine plate of Sülze (jellied meat) at Kloster Weissenhohe, I was glad I’d come.
The way to start the day at Kloster Weißenhohe: Sülze & Bratkartofeln
Still, the weather was dreary at best and after the meal and a few beers, it was a tough hilly 3km slog to Lindenbräu, where I’d lay my beer weary head in more hours than I cared to think about. Now, I have to tell you. When I got in that room and laid down for five minutes, it would have been all too easy to forget all about the rest of the Fünf Seidla Steig. After all, I was staying at the best brewery on the trek and had just eaten at the second best one. There was even a third brewery two minutes on foot up the road. Of course, that would have been lazy and taking advantage of my extremely good natured wife, who’d sent me on this trip figuring it would be good for my blog as well as reacquainting me with a hike I hoped to run tours on the following summer. So, I picked myself up and minimized my pack to the essentials. It was time to get to work.
A dreary day but nice foliage along the way
Once I got going, the walk up was actually very pleasant. It was a part of the trail I’d missed my first time and it was scenic, especially the approach to Thuisbrunn with its castle set amongst the nicest foliage of the trip. The Elch-Bräu beers went down well and though I had originally planned on eating a full hot meal there, I was still full from lunch so decided to get going only to be met with the first rain of the day.
Thuisbrunn Castle & Elchbräu Dunkles
Thankfully, I had my rain gear with me but I was nonetheless dripping when I got to the Hofmann brewery a few kilometers down the road. I only had time for one of their tasty Dunkles beers before darning my garb as with the shortened daylight hours of mid-October, I needed to get back on the trail. The walk back to Gräfenberg was familiar and though still raining, I enjoyed the muted sound it made in the dense forest. It was a bit like a job but it was work I enjoyed and I took comfort with each step that I’d soon be drinking the best beer of the trek in a pub I’d sleep on top of that night.
The trip back was pretty even in the rain
I made it back earlier than I had anticipated so went directly to the Friedmann brewery. Though it’s my least favorite beer of the trek, I couldn’t very well do the Fünf Seidla Steig and not do all five breweries, now could I? I met a trio of Germans enjoying a beer there and actually managed to hold a conversation in German with them. Generally, Germans easily detect if you’re an English speaker and segue into it quite naturally. They were soon on their way to the Kloster for dinner and I, after all, had a cozy room waiting for me a few minutes away. Lindenbräu was surprisingly empty so I took a hot shower and by the time I returned, it had filled up with only one table open, unfortunately reserved for three in less than a half hour. I squeezed onto a table with another couple, not looking for company and ordered a beer and meal. When I looked up from my phone ten minutes later, I was greeted from the other table by the three guys I’d met at previous brewery, only an hour or so earlier. They’d walked all the way to the Kloster only to find it full so called Lindenbräu to make sure they’d have a spot. I was glad they did as they invited me over and I didn’t have to eat alone after all. I showed them my website and explained my idea of beer wandering and they thought it was a brilliant idea. After my meal, I was too full to drink more than one beer so I bid them a goodnight. They were envious of my commute. They still had 5km to get back to their rooms. I was likely asleep before they had their last schnapps.
Glad to get back to lovely Gräfenberg & the cozy Friedmann’s Brewery
The next morning as I was checking out, I noticed a group of hikers already enjoying a beer. Of more interest was a wooden barrel sitting on the bar. The night before I felt the beer wasn’t up to par and surely saw the barman pouring the beer from a regular tap. I decided to give it a try and was once again reassured the importance of the gravity dispense method that is unfortunately falling by the wayside at many of the breweries. It was a great way to say goodbye to an old friend. A friend it seemed I could still count on.
Timeless Lindenbräu & their renowned beer