For those how haven’t heard, beer hiking is a thing despite it not being on Wikipedia. It will surely be there soon, mark my words. I just might have to do the write-up myself if no one else does. So, what exactly is beer hiking? Quite loosely, it’s the combining of hiking and drinking beer. It could be as simple as carrying some beer (hopefully in artsy cans, they’re lighter) along on your hike. It could also be hiking to places that have beer. In a perfect world, it would involve hiking to rural breweries.
some of the atmospheric forest trail on the Fünf Seidla Steig
Well, that perfect world exists. The Fünf Seidla Steig does just that. So, what exactly is the Fünf Seidla Steig? It’s a 20 kilometer/12 mile hike through the rolling countryside just northwest of Nürnberg, the capital of Franconia, a region in northern Bavaria. For those with minimal German skills, you know the number five is part of the equation and indeed, there are five breweries along the trail. A “seidla” is a beer mug with a side handle. The suffix “la” is affectionately added to words in the Franconian dialect to connote small. Don’t worry, the beers are anything but small at half a liter. Steig loosely means a steep path but while there are a few steep sections, it’s generally a gently rolling terrain.
Fünf Seidla Steig sign
Gräfenberg is the hub of the trail with a direct one-hour train connection to Nürnberg. It doesn’t hurt that it has two breweries of its own with Franconian legend Lindenbräu dating back to 1932, one of the hike’s biggest attractions. A few rooms are available for those lucky enough to secure one. Their timeless Vollbier is still served via gravity dispense. Just up the road is Brauerei Friedmann, founded in 1875, with hearty meals and a tasty Pils. One train stop earlier from Nürnberg is Weissenohe with a former monastic brewery dating back to 1052, Klosterbrauerei Weissenohe. Their Altfrankisch Klosterbier is not to be missed and typical of the region. A few kilometers up the trail, in Hohenschwarz, is Brauerei Hofmann, founded in 1987, offering up a tasty Dunkles Export.
Gräfenberg, Lindenbräu & some of the amazing Fünf Seidla Steig beers
Though paths existed between the four villages on the trail from times when people had no other choice but to walk between them and more recreational hiking trails like the Frankenweg (Franconia Trail) slice through the area, the formal Fünf Seidla Steig was conceived in 2007 when a long dormant brewery in Thuisbrunn was renovated by the innovative Kugler family, now Elch-Bräu. The trails were more or less in place and now with five breweries to be linked, some new signs with the hike’s logo were erected and the Fünf Seidla Steig was born in 2008. In fact, there is a 10th Anniversary Celebration on November 3, 2018 with live traditional music in all five of its breweries.
A great group of Beerwanderers were out on the trail last weekend to enjoy not only the great beer and food of the region but also the rural scenery aglow in fall foliage. Hailing from the east and west coasts of the US, they were eager to experience a part of Germany the average tourist misses, rushing from one famous site to another.
thanks to my fellow Beerwanderers hailing from California for these images
The Fünf Seidla Steig delivers just that. The weather was about as perfect as could be with temperatures in the low 70s and the sun shinning brightly. About the only thing that could have made it better would have been for it to be the 10th Anniversary Celebration.
Fall foliage and some new Beerwanderers from both coasts of the US
Well, a small group of Beerwanderers did make the trek up to the Fünf Seidla Steig on November 3rd for the 10th Anniversary Celebration and you can read about it here.
If not, check out some more beer hiking trails in Franconia and book something for next summer.