Just about this time last year, I was looking for some hikes and breweries in southern Bavaria to use for a book I was researching to be called Beer Hiking Bavaria. While I had ample such things to represent the Franconian part of the state, I was lighter on the area closer to Munich than I cared to admit, considering I live there. Don’t get me wrong, I had quite a few but I also knew there had to be more. I basically looked for breweries I didn’t know and if they were south of Munich, there was a fair chance there would be some fine hiking since the Alps flank the bottom of the state.
the area south of Munich has no shortage of gorgeous mountain scenery
I found an interesting brewery in a small village called Schönram. It wasn’t so far from Berchtesgaden and I already had a hike planned for there, as I knew I liked the area brewery and landscape. Since someone had been brewing in Schönram since the 1500s, I wondered how it had totally escaped my radar for all these years.
Brauerei Schönram & its malting house
I looked in the adjacent areas around the small village and found no shortage of hiking trails. I was happy with my find until I started looking at how to get there. There were no buses on weekends and during the week, I wouldn’t be able to get in and out in one day. To complicate matters, there didn’t appear to be anywhere to stay. Sadly, the brewery doesn’t have rooms. I mentioned it to a friend and former student, and he offered to drive me down. He’d wanted to go beer hiking with me anyway so here was a chance to kill two beers with one sip.
rural life around Schönram
It was a glorious day in late March when he picked me up and we sped with purpose towards the Alps. We parked at the brewpub and made our way to the trailhead, walking right by the actual brewery en route. This was looking to be a perfect entry for the book.
a glorious day around Schönram
The landscape was magnificent and the rural touches charming. We did about a 14 km circuit before rounding back into Schönram, passing a few equally cute villages and a of couple chapels, dramatically back-dropped by soaring Alps.
stunning scenery & charming touches of Bavaria
Though not an overly warm day, the sun was still strong and we had heated up on the hike. So, we were happy to be strolling back into Schönram with the promise of a great beer and meal in front of us. The Köllerer family has been at this since 1780, they must know what they’re doing.
old world charm of Schönram Bräustüberl
We were surprised to find it empty but soon found out that everyone was out back. It was hard for me to walk through this truly atmospheric old pub and my friend asked if I’d rather sit inside but I knew he’d never choose to sit inside on a day like this. So, I said it would be better outside for the photos and we squeezed onto a table with some others already enjoying a meal. It’s always a good move to take care of your driver.
the rewards are sometimes as good as the way to them
Though Helles isn’t my everyday beer and not generally my first choice, I ordered one despite there being an extensive beer menu. It was truly a Helles day and after the hike, it tasted like gold. It was very balanced with a long bittersweet finish. Along with their sizeable beer menu, their food menu was a bit daunting but when I see beef in a Bavarian restaurant, I usually go for it. Pork can get old if you eat it all the time. They had a Bierbrattl made with beef and it was the first time I’d ever seen it. It was incredible and my driver was super impressed with my ability to find great food.
the (Gold) Zwickel & Dunkel
One of the aspects of the brewery that had intrigued me was that while a very traditional place, they had brought in an American brewer in the late 90s. If this had been a Munich brewery, it would have been quite a bit ahead of its time but as a rural one, it’s a bit mind-boggling. Of course, Eric Toft was no run-of-the-mill American. He had trained at Weihanstephan and was more than ready to brew a slew of traditional beers, including an award-winning Pils. Known for wearing Lederhosen every day, he fits right in. He’s slowly worked some craft beer entries into the line-up including a very rare-for-these-parts IPA.
an award winning Pils & their IPA
I’d had about as many beers as I could fit and of course, my driver had drunk just the one with his meal. It was time to head out. While he was using the restroom, I was trying to buy some beer to take home, including the IPA. I figured I’d gift some to him and I could enjoy the one I hadn’t had yet at home since it wasn’t on tap anyway. The server informed me that they weren’t allowed to sell beer to go from the pub. It could only be bought at the brewery up the street, the same one we’d passed early that morning. Of course, it was closed. It was Saturday afternoon and every good Bavarian knows to buy their beer during the week or in the morning on Saturday. I ordered an IPA and asked to pay the bill before my friend returned.
He was surprised to see me drinking another beer when he got back and when he asked if I’d asked for the bill, he was surprised I’d already paid for us both. After I explained the situation, he good-naturedly watched as I drank my last beer. He knew I couldn’t leave without having it. Killing two beers with one sip is always harder than you think.
For turn-by-turn directions for the hike as well as more information on Brauerei Schönram, please consult my book Beer Hiking Bavaria.