I’m often asked what’s my favorite beer hiking trail and I quite routinely say the Fünf Seidla Steig® because it has everything I feel a beer hike should. Of course, there are a lot of opinions as to what those requirements should be but since the question is being asked of me, I can only answer using the criteria I use. I’m not saying hiking to a gorgeous mountain lake with some cans of beer isn’t an amazing experience but to me, it’s not a beer hike in the sense that the trail is not tied to beer in any way. For me, the trail has to go to a brewery and I find it most intriguing when there are multiple breweries along the route. There are quite a few of these in Franconia with the two oldest circuits probably being the most popular. Along with the aforementioned favorite, the Aufseß Brauereienweg is a slightly older/shorter circuit. Both of these have some lovely scenery as well and to seal their spots, even hilltop castles.
some scenery from both the Fünf Seidla Steig® & Aufseß Brauereienweg
There are also some beer hiking trails which take the hiker from one point to another, requiring the use of public transportation or a prearranged lift. The 13-Brauerienweg is perhaps the classic. As much as I love that hike and such types of trails perhaps appeal most to Germans, I find a circuit where one can start and finish at a brewery ideal. While the Fünf Seidla Steig® and Aufseß Brauerienweg get the lion’s share of attention, there are a few others which are easily as good with regard to scenery and breweries. The Bierquellenwanderweg and Tummler Brauereienweg are good examples, though both tend to be somewhat on the long side.
there’s no shortage of beer hiking trails in Franconia
One I tend to forget about when answering this question is the Burg & Bier Pfad. It’s just south of its more famous neighbor in Aufseß, traverses a similar landscape and has a castle ruin to boot. It takes in three great regional breweries over the course of a short circuit. When researching Beer Hiking Bavaria, it was an obvious inclusion but what I finally realized is how well-located its villages are for taking in many beer hiking trails.
some views from the Burg & Bier Pfad
With three hikes to record for the book, I decided to stay in Breitenlesau at Brauerei Krug to be central to them all. I’d never managed to get a room there and it’s not exactly easy to get a table inside for dinner. Once I secured the room I found out why, tables are automatically reserved for house guests! Well, I was happy to be in that elite group, knowing at the end of each day’s beer hike, I’d be able to have a meal and a few celebratory beers inside. Their Lagerbier is a classic Franconian Lager not to be missed.
Brauerei Krug is a great base
Though I’d walked the section of the Burg & Bier Pfad between Breitenlesau and Waischenfeld a few times, I’d never been on the less traveled and slightly longer route which bypasses Nankendorf. It was a very pretty stretch with a mix of forest and rural farmland.
the less hiked part of the Burg & Bier Pfad
We were sauntering into Waischenfeld before we knew it, with the castle ruin looming above but Brauerei Heckel on our minds. Wisely, we went up to the ruin first for some fine views of the town.
Waischenfeld & its castle ruin
Mission Castle Ruin accomplished, we headed down to Brauerei Heckel. This is one of Franconia’s most beloved and quirky pubs with two brothers serving their Heckel-Bier from very small gravity dispense kegs. It’s not bottled and their distribution is very small. We had it on tap just up the hill at a nice restaurant and it just wasn’t the same as what was poured onsite. We’d been there before but it was packed and it was nice to enjoy it sans the hikers that generally squeeze their way in.
a great stop at Brauerei Heckel
It sure would have been nice to have been staying in Waischenfeld but we still had half the hike to do and as great as the Heckel-Bier is, they don’t serve food so we set off towards Nankendorf.
the walk to Nankendorf
Nankendorf is a cute little village and home to Brauerei Schroll, another favorite of Franconians. Their Landbier is legendary and I must say their Bockbier even better. Both were on tap and there was still a bit of sun on their outside patio. The latter was so filling we forgot all about eating a snack. Besides, the sun was sinking in the sky and while the patio was now in the shade, we knew once we climbed out of the village, we’d be in the glowing countryside.
a most enjoyable hike back to Breitenlesau
Even with all the photo stops and trying to catch our shadows, we were back at Brauerei Krug at dusk and after grabbing a much needed shower, ensconced in their homey and quite bustling pub. What’s my favorite beer hiking trail? Well, it very well could be the Burg & Bier Pfad and I can tell you this, on that particular day, it was pretty damn hard to beat.
The Burg & Bier Pfad lies in Upper Franconia (Oberfranken in German). There are twenty-five hikes in this region in my book Beer Hiking Bavaria along with another 25 from all over Bavaria. Each includes detailed descriptions of the hikes as well as information on the breweries along the routes plus some tasting notes on my favorite beers at each establishment.
It’s available in both English and German: