A Hard Beer’s Night (& Day)

Sometimes you go back to the well one time too many. When the well is Brauerei Zehendner in Mönchsambach, the temptation is great and defending yourself will either fall on deaf or all too knowing ears. In 2017, I finally made it to their Bockbieranstich but had missed not only the actual tapping but also had to sit in an adjacent beer hall rather than their atmospheric pub. In the foyer sat two gravity dispense barrels, one their renowned Lagerbier and the other the celebrated Weihnactsbock I’d come to sample.

Weihnachtsbock & gravity dispense barrels at Zehendner

With my birthday falling on a Sunday this year, the original plan was to skip Friday and start my annual birthday in Bamberg on Saturday but as it grew closer, I decided to book a room in nearby Burgebrach since there are no rooms in Mönchsambach. My wife, who is beyond good-natured on my birthday weekend, relented and after a tram, three trains and two local buses, we waltzed into Zehendner, some three hours prior to the scheduled tapping only to find the same two gravity dispense barrels in pretty much the same exact spot. No Bockbieranstich photos again but no worries, this meant we wouldn’t have to wait for the beer to be tapped and could catch an earlier bus back to Burgebrach. That was the idea, anyway.

some fortification in the form of Knöchla & Gerüfter

As early as we were, we snagged one of the last tables and were quickly told we’d have to give it up at four as it was reserved. The couple down the end of the table asked about another one that was open and the waiter replied that one was open all night. We moved over with them despite our planning to leave before the reservation. Before long, they started talking to us and found it quite amusing that an American was not only so into their beer but also that he knew so much about so many breweries in the region.  We wound up not taking the earlier bus but more importantly drinking more of the magic Bock than is wise. It was so soft and silky smooth but our new friend said the brewer had told him the beer was closer to 8% than the 7% advertised. We went out to catch the last bus of the evening and waited with our new comrades, as well as many others not from the area or lucky enough to have a designated driver. Ten minutes later (you go our early when it’s the last bus in a small village), the bus whizzed right by us. Needless to say, there was rumbling. Everyone headed back to the brewery to complain and organize taxis back to town, no small feat since the cabs would have to come from Bamberg, and would be accordingly expensive. While waiting, my wife explained to the owners that we were staying in Burgebrach (about 5 km away) and they said, someone was driving that way and we could catch a ride with them.  This life-saving maneuver got us back in time for our dinner reservation at the Brauerei Schwann. Neither of us was super hungry but decided to have something light and try their Weihnactsbock,  another thing we really didn’t need.

yellow beer in mug
Schwan’s Weihnachtsbock

The next morning, I was a ragged sight. Even after breakfast, I wasn’t exactly raring to do the planned beer hike but it was, after all, one of the reasons of coming back out to Burgebrach. We had a few hours to kill before the bus (again, the last one!) back to Bamberg and doing the hike was about the only thing to do in town. It was a cold, dreary day but once on our way to Ampferbach, the crisp fresh air did us good. It was a pretty walk despite the gray skies and somewhat bare trees. We passed a small chapel en route and had the trails to ourselves the whole way.

the route to Ampferbach

We got to the village pretty quickly, only to find the door to Brauerei Hermann locked. It didn’t look open and there was another brewery in the next village but I’d already been there the previous year. We walked around back and saw an older couple getting in their car and leaving but figured they’d found the back door locked, too. We headed back around to the front and the woman in the car asked if we wanted to go inside. She was the owner and would be right back. She explained the front door was left locked when she was inside on our own. We went back around and were happy to get inside the cozy little pub. My wife wasn’t up for a beer so early but I opted for their very tasty Bock.

Brauerei Hermann & their very tasty Bock

It was unfortunately a short visit and we were soon back out in the cold, heading towards Grasmannsdorf. This was a more open section of the trail and the wind had picked up. We got to the main road and a left would have taken us to the Brauerei Kaiser there. It would have made for a tight squeeze with our bus back to Bamberg and as much as I like going to wells, I didn’t even suggest it. Heading right, we continued along the Jakobsweg back to Burgebrach.  We had plenty of time to catch the bus but went out early just the same and waited with some locals, obviously going into town for the Christmas market.

We were happy when the bus not only came but also stopped to pick us up. Bamberg was waiting and the last time I checked, there were ten breweries there, too.

4 thoughts on “A Hard Beer’s Night (& Day)

    1. Yes, they are. In general, Franconia is not great for pretzels. If you come to Munich, I’ll make sure to steer you to the best and I know as much about great pretzels as I do about beer. haha These particular ones were probably the best I’ve ever had in Franconia, freshly and homemade. Check out the my ABCs of Franconian Food for a detailed analysis of such things. 😉

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