Now that my book Beer Hiking Bavaria is out, I have been happily surprised over the media attention and, as an American living in Bavaria, one question I am repeatedly asked is what makes beer hiking in Bavaria so different from America. That Germans are an organized lot may be a bit stereotypical but not entirely off-mark. When it comes to beer hiking, the Bavarians certainly have it about as organized as can be, with trails designed to pass often numerous breweries. Another thing and perhaps not unrelated is hiking in Bavaria often passes through populated areas. For the average American, hiking is seen as an escape from such places and with large tracts of wilderness, that is an easier endeavor in the US than Germany. Don’t get me wrong, there is some incredibly beautiful nature here in Bavaria, but you aren’t generally too far from somewhere to have a meal and beer either. Last but certainly not least, Bavaria is blessed with a lot of historical old buildings and these are often part of the beer hiking landscape. Since brewing was common at monasteries, you shouldn’t be surprised to be passing by a few if beer hiking in Bavaria. No fewer than 10 of the 50 hikes in my book do just that, some of them still active monastic breweries. Throw in castles and churches and nearly every hike passes some historical building of some kind.
the Basilika of Vierzehnheiligen
On researching the book, I often found new-for-me routes to old favorites. Vierzehnheiligen was one such place and perfectly illustrates the key differences between Beer Hiking Bavaria vs. Beer Hiking America too. The first time I’d come here in 2002, I talked my then new girlfriend into driving me there. To the casual tourist who knew little of local buses, it seemed the only way to get there. The nearest train station seemed miles away. Fast forward 17 years and we’re married and I’ve learned that if a train station is miles away from a beautiful old church, there is almost certainly a hiking trail to get there. In fact, it’s not unlikely to be on St. James Way though it’s a long way from Santiago de Compestela.
part of St. James Way to Vierzehnheiligen
Vierzehnheiligen is a magnificently ornate basilica and the story of the 14 holy helpers one to enjoy over a beer. In fact, there is a former monastic brewery, now known as Brauerei Trunk, a few steps from its door and conveniently the beers take their name from the tale. A Nothelfer Export Dunkel and mixed meat plate here is not to be missed.
Dunkles & mixed meat plate
It took me 20 years to sort all this out but an easier and certainly more time efficient method is to have a look at my book, Beer Hiking Bavaria oder auf Deutsch: Bierwandern Bayern.
It details 50 hikes from all over Bavaria with turn-by-turn directions, historical insights and most importantly the breweries and beers along the routes. I think once you go beer hiking in Bavaria, you’ll not only see the difference, you’ll enjoy it too.