So, the 9 Euro Ticket which Germany introduced for the summer of 2022 had many great intentions. A relief package for those feeling the financial strains of a COVID-induced economic downturn. A way to save energy. To get people out of their cars and into the trains. A dig at Putin for invading the Ukraine. I’m surely missing something here but as much as I’m a little ashamed to admit it, the first thing I thought of was how many new breweries I could get to in 90 days. Forgive my being short-sighted and okay, self-centered but going to breweries is kind of my job and in that sense the financial windfall thing was blowing my way too.
maps & breweries
Part of my recent dilemma was Franconia had just gotten bigger. Well, it didn’t really get bigger but a good friend from middle Franconia, who’d already enlarged my circle of breweries by pointing me to breweries in his area, started expounding the virtues of ones even further afield. They were in Baden-Württemberg of all places but the catch was that the areas were once part of Franconia. He explained their being not only historically Franconian but culturally as well. He took me to Spielbach and I was hooked. Having more breweries had to be a good thing, until I looked at getting to them by train and realized it would be not only time-consuming but costly. In comes the 9 Euro Ticket and suddenly everything looked closer. Ok, not really but less costly for sure. I’d already have the ticket for the whole summer but could only use slower regional trains which always involve at least one change on any longer trip. The real plus was, unlike the already great deal Bavaria Ticket, I could go to neighboring states and even do it before 9 am on weekdays. This would make even long day trips possible.
a 9 Euro Ticket & a crowded train
I practiced with the 9 Euro Ticket on trips closer to home and was also using it for work, doing tours in more accessible traditional Franconia but by July, I was ready to venture out into the unknown. One place that was actually very close to Spielbach but seemed in another universe from my home in Munich was the Adlerbrauerei in Michelbach a.d. Lücke. Man, that’s a mouthful just to say, right? No wonder I hadn’t been able to get there. To be fair, I’d contacted the brewery a year earlier and had been told they did tastings of bottled beer with prior arrangement but to have the beer on tap, it was best to head to nearby Rot am See, where the Gasthaus Adler had three of the Michelbacher beers on tap. Though still intrigued, the logistics seemed too involved for a non-brewery visit.
Gasthaus Adler in Rot am See
I decided the 9 Euro Ticket made going impossible to pass up and though perhaps conceivable as a very long day trip, it seemed best to try to get to a few places nearby by spending the night. The options in Rot am See were limited and oddly expensive so I turned my overnight attention to Crailsheim, which was quite accessible from Munich. I’d been looking at the Engel brewery there even though my Franconian friend was less than enthused by the beers of the relatively large regional operation. I’d had their Kellerbier at a pub in Dinkelsbühl, had liked it and as chance would have it, accommodation options were better. It was also quite close to Schwäbisch Hall, another longtime sought destination, if I either got bored or, more accurately, found the time to get there. It was, after all, to be a one night trip with about 9 hours spent on the train.
lovely if limited Crailsheim
The train there involved a few changes but wasn’t overly convoluted nor super crowded as I’d heard horror stories of. Traveling during the day, during the week certainly helps. There were, however, a lot more retirees onboard, all talking excitedly about the 9 Euro Ticket. They were as giddy as schoolchildren and I had to admit, I kind of was too. I’d written the Adlerbrauerei again to try to arrange a visit but hadn’t heard back and was content with going to Rot am See to sample the beers on tap. Having just missed my connection in Crailsheim, I decided to give them a call to see what could be arranged last minute. I got a woman named Ingrid who explained they were in the midst of an intensive session of bottling and that no one would be able to show me around or do a tasting with me. She again suggested the Gasthaus Adler and added I should try the Hefepils, a new fresh beer which wouldn’t be bottled due to its perishable nature. So, Rot am See it would be.
more images of Gasthaus Adler
It was a longer wait for the next train than actual train trip but I soon found myself strolling through the surprisingly small village. It had sounded a bit like resort area, “am See” sure suggested being on a lake even with my limited German, but it was quite subdued and I wondered why people ventured here and spent the night since I sure didn’t see a lake, not even on Google Maps. The pictures I got were pretty but conspicuous in all being of the same church. No matter, I was here for the beer after all, and before I knew it, I was seated on the sunny deck of the Gasthaus Adler with an Michelbacher Export in front of me. It was a more modern affair than I’d envisioned but certainly a pleasant place to try the mostly malt-forward local beers.
a tasty Michelbacher Export on the deck
Though it was a tasty meal and bunch of beers, it lacked the old world atmosphere you hanker for on these kinds of adventures and I couldn’t help finding myself contemplating a quick trip to the brewery, even though I knew I wouldn’t likely be able to talk myself in. After consulting the bus schedule, I contented myself with another lovely Hefepils rather than a picture of the old brewery exterior. I was glad I’d called earlier or I may have missed it and it’s one of those beers you’re just not sure you’ll see again.
a lovely meal at Gasthaus Adler
Back in Crailsheim, I decided to stop in at the Engel-Keller for quick one, even though I’d not checked into my hotel yet. Hey, it was a hot day, the Biergarten looked inviting and it was literally right on my route to the hotel. I enjoyed small pours of their Helles, Gold and Hefeweizen before making my way to where I’d lay my head that night. I spotted a beer store on the way and made a mental note to stop in the next morning to pick up some local goodies to drag home.
first round at the Engel-Keller
With no A/C in my hot room, I only took time for a quick shower and a brief lie-down in front of the fan before heading back to the Keller. With such a range of beers on tap, I was glad I’d taken the time to refresh myself with three of them earlier so I could dive right into a nice aperitif, their Premium Pils. It wasn’t a ground breaker but I found myself enjoying it more than the earlier three and wishing it had been served in a half-liter pour. No worries, I still had not only their regular Kellerbier which had initially stirred my interest but a dark version of it too. I opted for a Schwäbisch classic Zwiebelrostbraten rather than the many Greek dishes on the menu, which smelled marvelous and were obviously quite popular at the Greek run eatery.
a good reason to stay in Crailsheim
The next morning, though a bit foggy-headed and ready to head home, I looked at the possibility of doing a short trip to Schwäbisch Hall. It was another gorgeous day, another new-for-me brewery and with the 9 Euro Ticket, free. How could I resist? I didn’t.