“Bamberg,” a magical name for beer fans, is world famous for its smoked (rauch) beers and beer cellars. This tour, which starts and ends in Bamberg, introduces you to the region’s typical beers and hearty food, while offering scenic bike rides on quiet roads and well-maintained cycle paths.
- The city center of Bamberg is a Unesco World Heritage site and home to 9 breweries. Many more await us in the lovely villages outside the city. During this 6-day tour we will head out to the countryside, visiting at least one brewery and three beer cellars each day.
- Franconia, a distinct region of Bavaria with its own culture and traditions, is dotted with beautiful small villages, nearly every one of which has at least one brewery and beer cellar. In fact, Upper Franconia, where our tour takes place, has one of the world’s highest densities of breweries per capita: more than 70 small, family-owned traditional breweries in an area appreciated as much for its natural beauty as for its beer.
- The difficulty level of this tour is Medium: We ride 25–35 miles per day on hybrid bikes. The tour is suitable for beginners but every day has some slightly hilly parts, so some training is necessary to fully enjoy the ride.
- Most village breweries have both a restaurant and an outdoor beer garden — you can enjoy their beers rain or shine. Many breweries also have beer gardens (also known as beer cellars) outside of town, tucked in a forest, perched on a hill, or nestled along a river. Perfect spots to sample the beers and the hearty local food.
- The tour includes a visit to the Weyermann Maltery, located in the heart of Bamberg. This is where smoked malt has been made since 1879. Today, the factory’s malts are exported all over the world. The facilities include test kitchens for small brewers to try out new beer recipes. We do a guided tour and beer tasting here on day 2.
- Included in this tour: 5 nights at two hotels, breakfast and lunch every day, dinner from day 2 to day 5, a 2-hour beer seminar by a local professional beer sommelier, brewery tours, tastings, maltery tour including tasting, high-end hybrid rental bikes, luggage transport, tour guides with local expertise and true beer ambassadors.
- Although Bamberg is best known for its rauchbeers there are many other German beer styles to discover on the tour: crisp lagers, kellerbier, weizens, fruity low ABV radlers, and even some modern style IPAs , stouts and barrel-aged beers. So don’t worry if you aren’t into “liquid bacon,” there are many more fantastic beers waiting for you!
There are over 70 breweries in this region, most of them are small, family-run operations. We respect their busy working schedule and accept that they may not be able to accommodate a tour on the day of our arrival. This means that we sometimes have to switch to an alternative brewery or content ourselves with a tasting.
Typical breweries we visit on most tour include:
Gaenstaller: One of the newer breweries in this region but already voted best German brewery by Ratebeer in 2017! Andreas Gaenstaller is an experienced brewer who in 2010 started his own brewery in the tiny village of Schnaid, in the former Friedel brewhouse. Beautiful vintage equipment, open coolship! Andreas mixes the tradition of Franconian brewing with more modern beer styles and techniques. His beers include a bottom-fermented (yes, really, bottom-fermented!) Imperial Stout of 11%, a rauch imperial IPA, and classic keller beers brewed with trendy aroma hops. An awesome experience and a place to meet brewers from around the world!
Schlenkerla: Home of probably the best known brand of rauchbeer. While those who love it compare it to “liquid bacon,” those who clearly do not will tell you it is like “licking ashtrays.” We will try this beer at its home: the Schlenkerla pub, located in the center of Bamberg and dating back to the 14th century!
Rittmayer: This is the only larger-scale brewery we will visit on this tour. But among craft beer fans Georg Rittmayer has made a name for himself with his Smokey George. Brewed in accordance with Germany’s brewing standards this beer combines Georg’s love for Franconian beer and single-malt whiskey. We will spend two nights at Rittmayer’s lovely B&B and dine at its restaurant, with its local cuisine that is a favorite with Franconians.
Brauerei Kundmueller: Located in a Franconian village of just 100 people, the brewery has been in business since 1874. Besides the traditional Franconian beers (and yes, a smoked beer), they produce organic beers, solar beers, two IPAs, and a bourbon-style double bock.
Brauerei Beck (not to be confused with “Becks”) is a family-run brewery situated in an idyllic valley just west of Bamberg. We will tour the brewery and its small museum, including the stone cellar once used to store beer and originating from the 17th century. Of course, we will be sure to taste the beer before getting back on the bikes.
Brauerei Hölzlein is a 7th-generation brewery, one of the few in Franconia to still use a coolship Located in the village of Lohndorf, in the beautiful Eller valley just east of Bamberg, we will taste Hölzlein’s not to be missed Vollbier and enjoy the warm hospitality of the Hölzlein family.
Brauerei Sauer: We’ll be stopping here not only for a brewery tour and to taste Christian and Richard Sauer’s traditional Franconian beers, but also to enjoy the delicious traditional cuisine that is the pride of the Sauer family.
Brauhaus am Kreuzberg: This hill is home to 3 adjacent beer cellars, of which one is also a brewery: Brauhaus am Kreuzberg. Despite its popularity, it has remained a family-run business brewing classic German beers, but also several innovative varieties, including a selection of barrel-aged beers!
Brauerei Pfister: In addition to his organic, traditional Franconian beers, brewer and beer sommelier Stefan Pfister recently introduced 4 seasonal beers in which he experimented with hops and malt varieties not usually found in the beers of this region. The lovely courtyard of this brewery and its charming restaurant are an all-year-round favorite with villagers and city-folk alike.
Brauerei Neder and Brauerei Hebendanz: These two breweries in the center of Forchheim are neighbors and enjoyed by local workmen, Forchheimers, and anyone else passing through town. Both breweries were founded in the 16th century and have been family owned ever since. Neder’s “Black Anna” is considered one of the best dark beers in Franconia.
Itinerary / Stats
Locations and distances vary from tour to tour, but generally fall between these guidelines:
Day 1: 12 km / 8 miles: We meet at 10:30 a.m. at the Hotel Europa in Bamberg, our home for the first 2 nights. After a 4-mile test ride we have lunch at our first beer garden and then head back to Bamberg. In the late afternoon we will have an introduction to Franconian beers old and new in a tasting seminar conducted by a beer sommelier, who will also share his knowledge of Francoania’s colorful traditions. A great way to start our beer adventure!
Day 2: 40 km / 26 miles: A morning visit to Weyermann maltery, in the heart of Bamberg. This is where the smoked malt is made. We will learn all about the production process as well as the company’s history, inseparable from that of the region’s beers! We will then set off on a ride to Kundmueller Brewery and Beck Brewery. After lunch we return to Bamberg. Enjoy a walk though the Unesco World Heritage town center of Bamberg before meeting up with the group for a beer and dinner at the Schlenkerla pub, home to Bamberg’s most famous rauchbeer.
Day 3: 40 km / 26 miles: We cycle east, heading out to the Eller valley to visit the Hölzlein brewery, also stopping at its larger neighbor brewery, Rehbräu. We then continue south to tour the Sauer Brewery before enjoying lunch at its restaurant. Back on the bikes, we head across the river to our guesthouse, owned and operated by the Rittmayer Brewery. We will stay here for 2 nights, taking advantage of the many charming breweries and beer cellars in this area, including the Kreuzberg, with its three beer gardens tucked in the woods on a small hill outside the village!
Day 4: 36 km / 23 miles. After a morning bike ride to visit the impressive Weissenstein Castle, we head over to the first of several breweries we will visit today: Henneman, Fisher, and / or Brauhaus am Kreuzberg, depending on the schedule of these small family businesses.
Day 5: 45 km / 28 miles We will visit with Andreas Gaenstaller at his small brewery and taste his unique beers. We then head over to the Pfister Brewery for a tasting and lunch before cycling south along the river to Forcheim. There, we will visit the historic Neder and Hebendanz pubs in the charming town center, with its famous half-timbered city hall.
Day 6: 28 km / 17 miles: One last beer garden and one last ride lead us back to Bamberg, where we say goodbye after lunch.
Markers show start/end + overnight hotel and B&B locations…