I pity the fool that ain’t been to Dinkelsbühl

I won’t try to deny it, I was one of those fools. I can’t even plead ignorance. Dinkelsbühl, while not as “famous” as nearby Rothenburg ob der Tauber, is a noted nearly intact walled medieval wonder. It’s on the Romantic Road for Chrissakes. About the only excuse I can muster is its not being a noted beer town. I kind of knew about its newish copper kettle brewpub but that wasn’t about to lure me like a lemming to the Craft Beer sea. Not when Franconia is blessed with 100s of multi-generation traditional ones.Then I’d heard about a brewery called Lauf and when looking for information about it, there wasn’t a pub selling their beer. It turned out the brewery in Dinkelsbühl was Hauf. Forgive my lazy attention to consonant detail. Sometimes all these breweries sound alike. You can’t tell the breweries apart without a scorecard and I’m even one of the people writing them. My wife is constantly amazed at my being able to keep them all straight. Evidently not always.

charming Dinkelsbühl

When looking for breweries I haven’t been to, a Franconian friend mentioned that Dinkelsbühl had a few. He wasn’t a huge fan of Hauf but was of the shiny new one. He actually said their beers were quite good and casually gave me another new one to add not only to the town’s growing luster but my confusion. I’m not one for self-pity, at least not of the dwelling variety, so I soon hatched a plan to spend the night if not within the town’s walls, within walking distance of them.

Dinkelsbühl “skyline”

The trip there was a lot more convoluted than I’d imagined. Without a car, The Romantic Road was not an option and the Three Local Trains & A Bus Route was anything but romantic. It was tiring but the walk from the bus terminal into town was stunning. With little built around it, the walled medieval marvel revealed itself on the not so distant horizon.Those fortifications have been in place since 1305 and thanks to its being a major tourist destination, they’re well kept.

a walled wonder

The day before the trip, I realized the reason I’d found such a reasonably priced room wasn’t just because it was a Monday in the off season but also due to its being in a neighboring village, on the other side of the walls from the bus terminal. So much for being a Genius on Booking.com. It wasn’t far but it was just about lunch time so I made my way to Weib’s Brauhaus on my way through town. In a picturesque place like this, there is no direct route. Your camera and sun-starved body follow the warm rays and light.

 the stroll to Weib’s

After the long trip and stroll, Weib’s Brauhaus was as welcome a sight as any modern copper kettle brewpub could be. It’s not that I have anything against such places but I seek tradition in Franconia so was happy to find it housed in a building typical of the old town. The interior was a nice mix of modern and traditional with touches you might expect to find in the Women’s Brewery.

a pleasant suprise, Weib’s Brauhaus

Weib’s Weißbier was atypical in its dryness but refreshing just the same.The varied menu had too many choices so I went for the anything but small “lighter fare” option of Leberkäse topped with a perfectly fried egg and roast potatoes. Needless to say, I ordered the brewery’s second beer, Weib’s Helles, to wash it down.

 A great lunch at Weib’s Brauhaus

It may have been a good thing that I had a fair walk out to my guesthouse or I’d have surely lingered longer at the friendly little brewery. The scenic stroll out to Segringen did me good and offered up some different views of the town and its encircling wall. Gasthaus Dollinger proved to be a great old historical building in its own right and the low-beamed ceiling and undersized doorways had me ducking and feeling taller than my average height would typically warrant. Thankfully, the bed wasn’t period piece. After a short respite, I found myself plying the route back to town.

 a stroll through the Segringen Tor & Gasthaus Dollinger

Even with the diversion, I had about an hour to kill before my second brewery opened. It was too nice a day to even consider investigating any of probably countless indoor sights so I wandered around aimlessly, about as perfect an activity in a town like Dinkelsbühl as you’re likely to find. You can always stop in for a coffee or ice cream at a café, super popular on any main square in such places. Of course, I found one which had a beer I’d never had. So much for being aimless. Sipping an Engel Kellerbier on the touristy thoroughfare had me feeling like, well, a tourist.

aimless is relative, isn’t it?

Well, that was fun but time to get back to work. Brauerei Hauf was calling. When a five-generation brewery calls, you answer.The actual brewery is on the outskirts of town due to the need for more capacity but Den Wilden Mann is where it all started in 1901 and remains its brewery tap, thankfully just outside the town’s wall. Though obviously updated, it’s very much in a traditional vein with lots of dark wood. While most restaurants in town offer the Hauf beers, this is the place to go if looking for their full line-up featuring another surprisingly good Weissbier, fairly dry Helles and Pils.

 Den Wilden Mann

It was probably very much for the better that this was my dinner choice due to the larger selection. I can’t take credit for the wise move as it hadn’t been open for lunch. The Bockbiergeschnetzeltes was fantastic and it was nice to see a brewery showcase its dark beer, the Friedrich Hauf 1901 Dunkel even if no one else seemed to be drinking it. Their Lent beer, Dinkelator, wasn’t on tap but I perhaps unwisely opted to get one anyway, not thinking about my longish walk back to my room. The fresh air on the way back was surely a blessing in disguise.

a fantastic meal & array of beers

The next morning found me discussing the previous day’s activities, my website and book with my host over breakfast. She seemed surprised that an American was so into the local beer scene. When I told her I was having lunch at Zur Schleuse before heading home, she was impressed I’d found it. I’ll have to admit, I was lucky in this regard. I would have likely returned to one of the breweries for lunch but neither was open. So, I looked for an alternative, with an eye towards sampling the beers of Stefansbräu, the addition from my Franconian friend who had admitted he’d not had them yet either.

the Rothenburger Weiher & Zur Schleuse

The walk over was leisurely and as scenic as any in Dinkelsbühl, rounding the Rothenburger Weiher, a picturesque pond with medieval reflections. Zur Schleuse wasn’t quite open yet but I knew that from a few exchanged e-mails with the owner who’d told me noon. There were worse places to sit on a bench and ponder what lunch would bring.

waiting on the beer could be worse

The owner walked up just as I arrived and obviously knew who the eager beaver was. She explained it was their first day of the season so things were a little hectic. The old half-timbered building is charming and in the midst of some interior renovation but the down on the farm atmosphere outside was perfect for a sunny last meal in town. I got a Stefansbräu Weizen and tried to order food only to be told the kitchen opened at 14:00. I explained my dilemma and that I’d been told 12:00 in our mails. She made a call and said they’d move it up for me if I got something simple. Flammkuchen sounded good to both of us.

 excellent Flammkuchen & Stefansbräu Märzen

While I waited, I had a chance to try Stefansbräu Märzen. The owner explained that while not affiliated with the small brewery, they were the only place in town to her knowledge that had their beers on tap. Though quite traditional looking, the atmosphere was quirky and eclectic with a very relaxing stream of music entrancing you to linger. The food took longer than expected but it was the first day and heating up an oven does take time. A hot oven is what makes Flammkuchen and it was great once in front of me. That and a Stefansbräu Zwickel made all right in the world.

excellent Flammkuchenm Stefansbräu Märzen & Dunkler Bock

The only problem was I had a bus to catch and drinking multiple beers on an relatively empty stomach isn’t a great travel day regime. I’d smartly picked up my local beers at the supermarket before. Even though it was right next to the bus terminal, I must have sensed I would be rushed otherwise. As it was, I knew making my scheduled slot would be dicey at best with the later than planned lunch. So, I opted to take a later one. It gave me a chance to more leisurely enjoy my meal and have an unexpected Stefansbräu Dunkler Bock. Though not on tap, I hadn’t seen it at the shop. How could I resist? I could blame it on the entrancing music but only partly. It was just the kind of place you could lose time in and that I did. Back at the station, stepping on the bus, I looked back at Dinkelsbühl. I was no longer a fool.

More practical information on the Dinkelsbühl breweries.

Heading to Bamberg. Don’t leave home without The Pocket Guide to Bamberg’s Best Beer.

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