In Search of Schwarzbier in Thuringian Hilltop Castles

Under any other circumstances, this would have been a can’t miss beer hiking outing. We were walking on a slight incline through a lush forest on a narrow path, the wall of a medieval castle visible through the branches to our left. Ahead lie not only the castle but a period piece medieval pub serving a very dark beer most noted to hail from this very area. What could go wrong?

atmospheric Burg Greifenstein

Well, the weather could have been better. The steady rain had toned down to sprinkles and mist. This isn’t entirely bad when visiting such places, perhaps even adding to the atmosphere. No, the problem had more to do with it coming after quite a few very beery days featuring overnights in Theinheim and Koster Kreuzberg. We’d also eaten lunch at Braurei Lang earlier in the day in nearby Waltershausen. These stops probably wouldn’t have been a factor but this misty walk had come fast on the heels of a drenching foray to museum-piece Brauerei Schmitt, another Thuringian regional outpost of off-the-beaten-path beer.

a few beery stops en route to Burg Greifenstein

So if you’re into beery excursions, you’re probably thinking so what’s the problem? My wife. No, she’s not the problem. She’s about as understanding a person as graces the planet. She had been driving for three days and this last leg was all en route to visiting her family in Saxony. She’d been a great sport and though I had mentioned this last stop at Burg Greifenstein, she had probably stopped listening with full intent a stop or two earlier. This is probably a good thing for her sanity as well as our marriage. She’s generally a good listener but there’s only so much beery rambling any person can digest, even coming from their soulmate.

Watzdorfer Brauerei en route

We’d driven by the Watzdorfer Brauerei en route. It dates back to 1411 and is a fair sight to behold, with some half-timbered buildings for good measure.  I didn’t even think of asking to stop for a photo. Sometimes I can be sensible and it wasn’t exactly a great day for taking photos anyway. I nicked this from the brewery’s website and it sure looks better than anything I could have mustered on the dreary day dealt me. Despite the weather, the walk up was good for us both and my wife got a bit more excited once she saw the bridge over the moat to enter the castle. The 10€ entrance fee seemed steep and though we pleaded honestly that we were only there to go to the Burgschänke, we had to pay none-the-less.

an atmospheric pub

Though I was mostly there to try the Watzdorfer Schwarzbier, I saw they also had their Pils on tap so I got one of them first. Luckily a friend had forewarned me about the .4L mugs and inflated prices. We’d planned on having cake but my wife spotted home- and freshly made waffles on the menu. That and a hot cup of coffee and she was smiling. Between the small beer mugs and time to prepare the waffle, I had plenty of time for my Schwarzbier too. Both beers were excellent. Even more important, the waffle with its elaborate trimmings was superb as well. A happy wife, after all, makes for a happy life.

a happy wife makes for a happy life

Though the focus is Franconian beer on Beerwanderers, I have discovered there are some parts of Thuringia which are part of Franconia. Watzdorf & Burg Greifenstein fall outside this area but a friend suggested them and I’m glad we made the effort to check out these excellent beers and atmospheric setting. Of course, good beer is where you find it and sometimes it’s in the damnedest places.

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