There are many who lament technology. While you’ll undoubtedly hear me complain that it changes a bit more often than I’d like, I could never deny how much easier it makes things. It takes some preparation and surely some learning but in the end, it facilitates. Navigation is a prime example. I love studying maps. There are few things which stoke the imagination as passionately. In the field, I’m just not so great with them. I find a simple GPS much easier to use. Well, now that I actually have a GPS. When I first went to do the Bierquellenwanderweg with a friend visiting from the US, I had a new toy, my first Smart Phone. I’d discovered Google Maps and thought I could get from point A to point B as well as anyone.
we didn’t always know where we were going but we got there and had fun
What I discovered was my phone didn’t have very good coverage out of big city Munich and into the countryside. Admittedly, I had a cheap plan and Germany is surprisingly not as wired as you might imagine. It didn’t help that when I went to get rooms for the trip, both breweries on the route were fully booked. In fact, there were no rooms on the route to be had whatsoever. I did find one but it was a fair distance from the trail and we were forced to do bits and pieces rather than the whole circuit. That said, I went right when I should have gone left more times than I’d care to admit. My friend really enjoyed the beer, authenticity of the area and in the end called it a real adventure!
faring far better the second time around
My second time in the area, I was on a four day hike from Pegnitz to Strullendorf and essentially sliced through the middle of the circuit to ensure hitting all four breweries on the Bierquellenwanderweg. It was part of a 100 km beery adventure and the shortest distance was taken, marked trail or not. I’d bought a real GPS specifically for the trip as I would be off regular trails a fair amount.
the trip in from Pegnitz on the return to the Bierquellenwanderweg
As with many things you want to do, I didn’t get to return to do the full circuit for two years. It might have taken longer but I was researching Beer Hiking Bavaria and this was one hike that I knew had to be included. By going mid-week, I was able to get a room at Brauerei Herold which meant great beer and food the two nights I spent in the area. It also meant my plan of cutting the longish circuit in half would entail more hiking as it was located at the bottom. Such is the price of putting beer ahead of your legs.
Gasthof Herold made a great base
Since I arrived midday, I decided to do the bottom half of my bisected view of the full circuit first. Unlike hiking in the US, trailheads you drive to are not always the case on hikes in Germany so getting on the actual trail is sometimes confusing. Once I got out of the village, it was very well-marked with yellow beer mug signs. Just before Trockau, I saw the “kurze Variante” or short cut across the circuit. This was signed with brown beer mugs. This certainly makes staying in Trockau a fair option as there are marked routes to all the breweries. It was scenic enough and before I knew it I was in Leups. It was tough to walk by Brauerei Gradl but I’d had lunch there earlier. For whatever reason, the bus in from Pegnitz doesn’t stop in Büchenbach so I had to walk from Leups, obviously after having some a couple of Seidlas.
the varied route
Since I’d done the route between Leups and Büchenbach earlier, it was easy and as it was between my two favorite places on the circuit, I did it quite a few times. It sure made the extra legwork worth it! Back at Gasthof Herold, I was able to enjoy their Maibock and a rare treat of Hackepeter, something you don’t see often in Bavaria. Man, was I glad to be staying a flight of stairs away!
two specialites: Maibock & Hackepeter
The next morning, I was a little foggy and was happy to have some of their house-butchered meats for breakfast but smartly stuck to water despite the gravity barrel looking to have already been tapped. I had a full day of hiking ahead of me and set off back on the increasingly familiar trail to Leups. I started my GPS to record the route from there and wisely left a stop there until the end of my top of the Bierquellenwanderweg circuit. I headed up to Lindenhardt on a very pleasant lush trail, perfect for a drizzly day. I was happy to seek refuge at Brauerei Kürzdörfer for a Flammkuchen washed down with their Dunkles.
a lovely trail to Brauerei Kürzdörfer
The only other people there on this rainy mid-week day were the owners, who were also having lunch. Despite this, service was quick. I was soon on my way to Weiglathal on a new for me route which brought me by some stables on the way into the village.
the outskirts of Weiglathal
Zum Fichta has the nicest outside seating of any of the breweries on the circuit but it wasn’t a day to even consider sitting outside. Though they no longer brew themselves, it is contracted to their recipe and they lager it on the premises. It’s a tasty Vollbier nonetheless and I got a bowl of soup to warm up.
warming up at Zum Fichta
I still had a fair amount of hiking to do so I pried myself from the cozy pub and was on the verdant trail to Trockau. I’d have to say this is one of the nicest parts of the route despite it being close to and within earshot of the Autobahn.
the verdant trail to Trockau
I was soon in Trockau, the only real town on the circuit. There are some places to stay there but after having seen it, I was happy with my choice to stay at the brewery even if it meant more walking. If you can’t get a spot at either brewery, by all means it’s your next best option. There is a small castle but it’s private and can’t be visited. After a cursory look around, I was back on the “kurze Variant” to Leups.
the small private castle & welcome back to Leups
Brauerei Gradl was a lot busier than the previous day at lunch but I found a spot. I wasn’t about to walk by an old favorite again. They have some of the best Bratwurst anywhere and their Dunkel from gravity dispense is quite possibly the best.
Leupser Dunkel defines a beer worth the walk
It wasn’t easy leaving Gradl but I would have Herold’s Maibock on my return as consolation. I still had to walk back to Büchenbach but I knew the pretty lush route like the back of my hand now. And that’s a good thing, it’s the connection between two dark beers very much worth the walk.
The Bierquellenwanderweg 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: