While social media is far from perfect and certainly gets some well-deserved criticism, it has its upside especially when the social part is emphasized over the media. You see, you really can meet some people you almost definitely wouldn’t have otherwise. Since starting Beerwanderers and sharing my posts on Instagram, Facebook, Tumbler, Twitter and Linkedin, I’ve met a host of wonderful beery people who I can now call friends. One of these is Kevin Holsapple, the force behind Prime Passages, an information blog on beer travel. We’ve met up a few times and seem to generally always manage to do a beer hike together. The reason it works out is Kevin is one very organized guy when it comes to planning his trips. He gives me lots of notice about when he’s coming and what he’s planning, and he’s generally got a lot of interesting stuff in the playbook too. On a recent visit, he was set on exploring the gorgeous Naabtal, a lush valley with the meandering Naab river as its centerpiece. This nearly 100 km river takes its source in the Fichtel mountains and opens up into the Danube River west of Regensburg.
the lush Naabtal
This was an area on my radar for quite a few years but my focus on Franconia always pushed this closer to home region off to another day. As often happens, a friend on vacation gets you to explore just such places. His plan was multi-pronged and sadly some of it coinciding with a family trip I’d already booked but we did find a day to explore a trail from Pielenhofen to Adlersberg, where Prösslbräu brews a renowned dark Bock: something this region is particularly noted for. While great minds think alike when it comes to activities and destinations, they often veer off when it comes to the actual path. I’d sketched out a circular route taking in the river and an adjacent hill long ago but there wasn’t really time for that, hence the bus to Pielenhofen, where the former convent Kloster Pielenhofen and the first glimpse of the Naab were our rewards. If it were 1240, the nuns would have been serving up their beer but thanks to the Reformation, we’d be stuck with Augustiner so we set off.
Kloster Pielenhofen & the Naab River
Kevin’s long game goal was Regensburg but he wanted to get some elevation to cut the distance and possibly afford atmospheric views. We started along the river, assuming it would be the most scenic path but it was a hot day and it was mostly a bike path offering little respite from the blaring sun.
the scenic if hot stroll
My route would have kept along the river but I had to agree with my beer hiking buddy that cutting up into the forest was the prudent thing to do. The views were well worth the climb but now we were getting closer to the other half of my circular route and I naturally wanted to get a feel for that for future reference. Kevin understandably wanted to stick to his route but deferred to mine as it looked shorter. Thirst had become a factor.
some shade, the view before the nettles
I was perhaps hotter than Kevin, who lives in New Mexico and was wearing shorts. When I do a hike I am unfamiliar with, I tend to wear long hiking pants. You just never know what the trail will be like and I’d rather be a little warm than rub up against something unpleasant. Of course, my off-route route did just that. It was spring and a little used path at best, overgrown with nettles. Kevin was probably wondering why he’d invited me at this point but we soon were waltzing into the former Adlersberg convent. Another group of 1200-something nuns put out of business by the Reformation. Thankfully, this story has a happier ending. The Prössl family stepped in in 1835 and five generations later, they’re still brewing their award winning dark beers.
It was incredibly busy for a weekday lunch but mostly filled with pensioners enjoying the admittedly reasonably priced food and beer, not to mention atmospheric Biergarten. We both enjoyed our pork knuckles, the fine beers and each other’s company. Kevin loves to rile me up with suggestions I invariably don’t think would work in Germany but he’s always full of ideas, and maybe more importantly enthusiasm. I think he is a little envious of my living in Bavaria but come November, I bet the sun is a lot brighter in New Mexico.
Pork knuckle, dark beer & good company
It was time to part ways. I was rushing back by bus to make dinner for my wife and Kevin would walk to Regensburg. When I saw the photos he took along his route, I must admit to being the envious one. Living in Bavaria is just that, its wonders are at your fingertips at all times but you have responsibilities. Kevin was on vacation and had only his feet to answer to and another brewery on his horizon.