Jokes that start with “what’s so good about Good Friday” generally elicit a well-deserved groan. To be honest, I’m not Catholic and may have even uttered this worse for wear rhetorical question myself but since moving to Bavaria, I know very well what’s good about it: it’s a holiday. Both Good Friday and Easter Monday are paid national holidays. Generally reserved for family visits, it’s still a time to celebrate spring and get a breather before summer sets in. I know better than to try to steal any of these days from what is generally my wife’s first time seeing her family in any given year but since we’ve started renting cars for these too brief for the train excursions, I’ve managed to squeeze the Thursday evening prior for a brewery visit in Franconia. I find a place that’s difficult to reach by public transportation, preferably one that has overnight accommodation and get ready for Gründonnerstag (Maundy Thursday) and The Last Supper.
Oberailsfeld’s Held-Bräu is a favorite stop on the annual Easter Excursion
Franconian Switzerland is a pretty area with lots of choices in both breweries and hiking trails. We’ve generally tried to squeeze a walk in on these stops but due to time constraints, they’ve tended to be short. Last year, when researching hikes for my book “Beer Hiking Bavaria,” I managed to talk my wife into two nights and the Aufseß region was the first choice due to the preponderance of breweries and trails, as well as Osterbrunnen (Easter fountains).
the Aufseß is a great area for both hiking and Easter decorations
The Aufseß Brauereienweg is 14 kilometer circuit that passes four brewpubs. Though in small neighboring villages, they all reside in the Aufseß postal code which conveniently made it the most dense brewery per head town in the Guiness Book of World Records. Well, at least once upon a time. Even if it no longer owns this distinction, it’s still a pretty sweet spot. One of the brewpubs is at the foot of a hilltop castle, the four of them are connected by a well-marked gentle circular trail and if you like cake with your dark Bock, that can be easily arranged at Kathi-Bräu.
some of the considerable charms of the Aufseß
Ideally, try to stay at either Brauereigasthof Reichold or Rothenbach. It’s always nice to drink at the source at the end of a long day of hiking. I’m partial to the Reichold Lager but the latter is more scenic and if in the area to check out the Easter decorations, it makes the better base. This practice of adorning the fountains here dates back to 1909, though unsurprisingly took a hiatus after WWII. Revived in the 50s, busloads of mostly German tourists now descend on the area from Good Friday through the holiday.
Easter decorations in the Aufseß
If Easter and or its eggs aren’t your basket, there’s plenty of natural beauty to soak in whether you like biking, climbing or hiking. The food is typical Franconian, hearty and incredibly tasty. Even if you are very active, it’s not likely you’ll leave the area lighter than when you arrived.
This is an area most easily visited by car but it’s not impossible to get there by bus. Plan your trip well as buses are not regular. A car would open up nearby areas (and breweries) which would otherwise require some longer distance hiking to tackle.
This is an area I’ve been exploring for some years now. For more information on hiking and breweries in the Aufseß and adjacent areas, please consider consulting my book, Beer Hiking Bavaria oder auf Deutsch: Bierwandern Bayern.