There’s a lot of great beer out there but nothing quite captures the imagination like inaccessibility. If you can’t have something, you just want it more. I guess it’s human nature. If I’m reaching for the rest of you, I can safely say it’s definitely part of my psyche. My guess is if you’re reading this, you might have a bit of this tendency, too. In today’s increasingly small world, it seems you can get just about anything you want. Well, if you have enough money. You can buy just about any beer online but “just about” is just that. There are some beers that money just can’t buy. One such beer is from small brewery Hoh in the equally small village of Köttensdorf, a mere 12km or 8 miles from beer Mecca Bamberg.
How can a place so close to Bamberg be so hard to get to? I guess if you have a car, it might not be all that hard but it’s not like you can just swing by and pick up a few sixes. They don’t bottle their beer. Growler? Forget it. Unless a brewery does their own, they don’t seem so open to filling glass that they don’t know is sterilized. If you’re contemplating having a few and jumping back in your car, keep in mind drinking and driving laws are quite strict in Germany. You can actually get in some fair hot water for drinking and riding a bike. At any rate, I live in the center of Munich and having a car doesn’t make much sense so when I’m in Bamberg, I’ve arrived by train. Train to Köttensdorf? Even less likely than getting your growler filled.
Schesslitz is a cute little town worth a stroll if in the area
Nearby Schesslitz has fairly regular if somewhat limited buses from Bamberg so let’s start there. After a tram, three trains and a local bus, we arrived on a snowy Sunday around midday. Ok, that’s from Munich and there were a few nights in Bamberg between the first four segments and the approximately 20 minute local bus. We hadn’t been there since my wife and I started dating around 17 years ago. She didn’t remember being there and to be honest, my memory was a big foggy but I knew we’d been there as I had scribbled (life during pre-smartphone time) some beer notes in a paper journal for the local brewery Drei Kronen. Though our goal beer was in Köttensdorf, we couldn’t very well waltz through Schesslitz for the first time in so many years without dropping by, now could we? All I can say is, it hopefully won’t be so long between visits next time. Their Bock was lovely.
the birthday beerwanderer gets his Bock
Though cozy, there was little time to drink contemplatively. We had some hiking in front of us and off we set. Once outside, it seemed a lot colder than when we’d arrived and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t give a second thought to turning right around and settling into the comfy brewpub until the next bus passed through. We persevered and were soon on the surprisingly well-marked trail to the Geichburg Castle.
Geichburg Castle and the trail there
The site of the castle dates back to around 1100 but took its most complete form in the 1400s. Sadly, by the 1800s it had become a ruin but was reconstructed in 1971 for various purposes. At any rate, it makes an impressive site as you walk towards it, especially on a snowy day. It’s also good fun to walk around its grounds. Conveniently, there’s an atmospheric rustic restaurant which has good-value tasty meals and St. Georgen Kellerbier on tap. We’d built up a fair appetite walking there so both had a Schäuferla, or pork shoulder.
Geichburg Castle in the distance & a fine Schäuferla
After lunch, we decided to walk over to the Gügelkirche, an equally impressive church built right into a rock. Though not part of my original itinerary, we had some time to kill (if we wanted to arrive when Braurei Hoh was open!) and we were glad we had as the walk between the two ancient structures proved the highlight of the day.
the trail to the Gügel & its interior
There are many trails from this area and most people likely return the way they’d come but Köttensdorf was calling two beerwanderers that day. The trail to the village proved scenic, as well and we arrived to find Brauerei Hoh open for business.
the trail to Köttensdorf and Brauerei Hoh
The brewery opens most days at 3:30 in the afternoon but I had forgotten it was the weekend and on them and holidays, it’s 3:00 instead. It was about 3:10 when we arrived and though we still had a good half hour back to Schesslitz, my wife knew I couldn’t not go in. It being my birthday, she offered not the slightest rebuttal, despite our bus’s departure in a bit less than an hour. We ordered both beers on the chalk board, a Bock and a Helles. We paid on their arrival and obviously drank them earnestly. There was little time to waste.
Both were excellent and though this Bock would warrant the moniker quaffable, Bocks really don’t lend themselves to being drunk quickly. So, we got back on the trail with just about a half hour to our bus. Needless to say, our walk was even more earnest than our drinking had been. With all our winter clothes, we worked up quite a sweat and got to the bus stop with about three minutes to spare. My wife hadn’t complained on the walk back but you could see she was relieved to have made it back in time. The next bus wouldn’t be another two hours and the Drei Kronen was closed (the dreaded village midday break) until just about that time. We’d have likely had to walk all the way to Memmelsdorf, a good 90 minutes away on foot. These beers really were worth the walk but how much walking they were worth, I was glad to not find out.
Details on beer and hiking in the area available in my book Beer Hiking Bavaria.