What’s the difference between a Bierkeller and a Biergarten? A few acquaintances from Middle Franconia explained it all came down to the Bierkeller Equator. It seems if it is located above this imaginary line, it is called a Bierkeller. We were enjoying a beer in the Wettelsheimer Keller, evidently in Bierkeller territory just outside Teuchtlingen. According to them, Biergartens are something in the Munich area and points south.
the very practical & atmospheric beer cellar
As with most things, it’s not really that simple. The earliest ones in Munich like the Augustiner Keller and Hofbräukeller used Keller since they were in fact, beer cellars. These were used to keep beer cool in times before refrigeration and in the early 1800s became popular outlets to drink beer due to a variety of factors but mostly it was the discovery that the beer just tasted better than the less ideally stored and quite possibly spoiled beer in town. For the purposes of this ranking though, the Bierkeller Equator works just fine. Though I live in Munich and enjoy the Biergartens here, I am drawn to the simpler ones in Franconia. You really get the feeling of an informal gathering and the cellars are often still very much on display and at the best, still actually used.
smaller is often better
I have a list of about 50 Bierkellers in Franconia I’ve been patiently working my way through. It’s not so easy by public transportation. When you factor in generally restrictive opening hours in the more remote countryside ones, you’ll understand getting to as many as I’ve managed while living outside of Franconia is fairly impressive. Please note that the ratings are solely my opinion and that the list is relegated to Bierkellers I have personally been to. As a small note and since food is a criteria in judging, I’ve put an * next to the few where I did not eat and assigned a score of 7 as it was the lowest any of the other Kellers attained. I agree it’s not fair but rather than not include them, it seemed my only option until I can return to rectify this detail.
typical Bierkeller fare
One last note before explaining the rating criteria. To be on this list, it had to be an actual Bierkeller with at least the remnants of the beer cellar. Some of these are just fantastic to see and to me, add so much to the whole experience. While researching this, I visited some breweries with great outdoor seating areas with playgrounds for kids, self-service food and some excellent beer but they just weren’t Bierkellers. The latter are often on the outskirts of the town or village and distinct from the brewery itself.
I unfortunately only got to one new-for-me Bierkeller in 2023 but it was a great one. In addition, I returned to a few favorites and was able to eat at two I’d previously not; which raised them slightly in the ranking. I still have five to return to for that purpose. One place I have high on my list for 2024 is Max’s in Ampferbach. Rather than put the individual ranking criteria numbers below each Keller, I’m adding a link to the overall table, making it more friendly to those viewing on their phones.
The criteria: rated on scale of 1 to 10, highest sum wins.
Beer: quality, range, 10 points only if beer is gravity dispensed. Perhaps unfair but it was once the only way these places did it and it is sadly becoming increasingly rare. My hats off to those still keeping the tradition alive.
Food: quality, range, general availability of hot food is a real bonus.
Setting: trees, view, remoteness, top marks for being in the forest with a view.
Atmosphere/Facilities: while related to the setting, some places had a better feeling to them due to the arrangement of the seating and the friendliness of the people working there. In my experience, all Bierkellers have playgrounds for the kids and while I don’t have any, I did try to have a look at them. It’s also good if there are areas not too close to them for those seeking more solitude. Toilets are one of the weaknesses of these admittedly rustic places so points were given to any which had updated theirs. Shelters in case it rains are a big plus and many of them have this sorted out better than others. Last but not least for me, if they used mugs with the brewery logo on them, I gave a point for this.
If interested, have a look at the Bierkeller ratings table.
Please note that the link above the photos will open a tab for a more complete review of that particular Keller, including address and opening hours.
1 Wettelsheimer Keller
2 (tie) Roppelts Keller
2 (tie) Pretzfelder Keller
3 (tie) Schmausen Keller
3 (tie) Neder Keller
5 (tie) Lieberths Keller
5 (tie) Lieberth Dorfkeller
6 (tie) Griesskeller
6 (tie) Roppelts Bierkeller (Trossenfurt)
6 (tie) Geyer Felsenkeller
7 (tie) Löwenbräu Keller (Neuhaus)
7 (tie) Wilde Rose Keller
7 (tie) Wagner Keller
7 (tie) Spezial Keller
8 (tie) Laufer Keller
8 (tie) St. Georgen Keller
8 (tie) Rossdorfer Felsenkeller
9 (tie) Felsenberg Senftenberg
9 (tie) Schwanen-Keller
9 (tie) Zeckerner Keller
9 (tie) Mühlenbräu-Keller
10 Kellerberg Voggendorf
11 (tie) Hermanns Keller
11 (tie) Häschaadä (Hirschaider) Keller
11 (tie) Höhnskeller
12 Engelhardts Keller
13 (tie) Lindenkeller
13 (tie) Hannla Keller
14 Rittmayer Keller am Kreuzberg
15 (tie) Schumannskeller
15 (tie) Rittmayer Gartenkeller
15 (tie) Löwenbräu Keller (Buttenheim)
16 Schwanenbräu Keller
17 Entla’s Keller
All of the Bierkellers are worth a visit and some are quite special. I don’t think you’ll find anything quite like it anywhere else. It should be noted that more and more Bierkellers are closing each year so try to get to a few soon. They need your support and may not be there forever.
If you’ve found my Bierkeller round-up useful, please consider buying me a beer 🍺
Want to know more about beer styles in Franconia? Enjoy ABeerC.
To search for breweries and learn more about them, go to Where the Brews Are.
In Franconia, the food is as good as the beer: The ABCs of Franconian Food.
Prefer a guided beer experience in Bamberg.