June 13th to 18th, 2018

September 19th to 24th, 2018

$1850

Difficulty: Medium

Ready to Rauch and Roll!
Ready to Rauch and Roll!

Highlights

“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!

Breweries

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.

Our hotel / biergarten for two nights!
Our hotel / biergarten for two nights!

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.

Smoke 'em if you got 'em

Total Mileage: ~150miles / 241km

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…

Photos from this tour

Tour FAQ's

What is included in the trip cost?

  • 5 nights at a hotel and brewery-owned B&B, both 3 stars. All rooms include a private bathroom.
  • Daily breakfast, daily lunches, and lots of snacks for each day.
  • Dinner is included on nights #2, 3, 4, and 5.
  • All tours are lead by either Evan or Henk, Beercycling’s veteran guides. A 2nd guide is available typically only for groups of eight or more.
  • Daily route planning, including daily itineraries of our agenda and options for where to eat / what to do in each town / maps / etc.
  • A multi-speed touring compatible bicycle, helmet, and lock. (More about the bikes in the section below)
  • Vehicle support for groups of 8 or more. For smaller groups you will receive two rear panniers to carry personal belongings.
  • Entrance fees to all brewery visits, including lots of free beer tastings, and to the castle (day 4).
  • A welcome package which includes a T-Shirt plus other goodies.
  • Email / phone contact with your guides prior to the trip. You get to ask as many questions as you like, talking directly to your tour guides.

What is not included?

  • Airfare and transportation to and from Germany
  • Transportation to the trip meet-up location (although we can assist with an airport pickup service)
  • Lodging before and after the trip
  • Gratuities for Beercycling tour guides
  • Personal items purchased during the trip
  • Alcoholic beverages (although lots of beer is included at each brewery and sometimes during lunch)
  • Dinner is not included on nights #1 and #6, but you will have the opportunity to explore the regional cuisine, either on your own or with the group, as you like. Your guides are happy to provide you with recommendations.

How do I get to Bamberg?

The easiest way to get to Bamberg from the US is to fly to Frankfurt. From there you can catch a less than 3-hour train to Bamberg, changing in Nuremberg or Wuerzburg. Or you can fly to Munich, take the train to the Central Station and from there catch a train to Bamberg, changing in Nuremberg; total travel time is less than 3 hours. You might also choose to take a connecting flight from either airport to Nuremberg airport, and travel from there by train to Bamberg via Nuremberg Central Station,. If there are 4 people or more people in your group, a group taxi straight from Frankfurt or Munich airport to your hotel in Bamberg is worth considering. Contact us for more information.

Let's talk weather

The weather in this part of Germany is unpredictable, and the weather forecasts often unreliable, for better or worse. In the summer it can be pleasant, it can be wet, it can be very hot, or rainy and cool. In the spring and fall it can be beautiful or very cold. So riders need to plan for any situation. The number one thing that will ensure a comfortable tour is a good rain jacket that you have tested is fully waterproof. We will be riding each day rain or shine.

Wind is normal in Germany. A possible, occasionally strong headwind will make the cycling more challenging.

Tell me more about the bikes

On our German tours we use lightweight Belgium-made hybrid bikes. They have 21 gears and include a cushioned saddle. The bikes do not have clip-in pedals. No special footwear is required for these bikes. However, you are welcome to bring your own pedals.

What about the bike paths / difficulty of riding?

Upper Franconia has a beautiful scenic landscape, with farmland, hills, woods, and small towns. Traffic is relatively quiet, and on the busier sections there are separate, mostly paved bike paths. Every day we have a mix of flat roads and some hilly sections. Daily mileage is between 20 and 30 miles a day. We ride at a leisure pace, with the speed depending on the condition of our group. On this tour we will be stopping frequently at beer cellars and breweries along the way, in addition to taking a lunch break, so we won’t be cycling non-stop for hours. For this reason, the 20–30 miles can take us the better part of the day.

I’m not a strong cyclist. What do I need to do to prepare for the ride?

Our longest ride will be about 30 miles, on partly hilly terrain. To prepare for this trip you should be able to ride your bike at least this distance on hilly terrain or at least 40 miles on flat terrain. It’s also a good idea to practice being on your bicycle multiple days in a row, to build your “saddle strength.” Please keep in mind that we cannot control the elements. A possible windy, wet day will make for much harder riding, so please take that into account with your training plan.

What are the maximum / minimum number of riders on this trip?

To keep the trip well-organized and give every rider individual attention, most trips are limited to 14-16 people (including the guides). The minimum for most tours is 5 guests. We will notify you when the minimum has been met for your tour.

What if we don't have enough people to include vehicle support?

We will email the group to confirm departure, and then again when we have enough people to confirm the support vehicle. If we are not able to provide a support vehicle you will have the option of joining us on a self-supported tour or receiving a full refund. We try to determine whether vehicle support will be provided at least 2 months prior to the start of a tour.

How do I reserve my spot?

Simply follow the link below to our registration page. You’ll need to provide all of the requested information; the 400 USD deposit per person is due immediately upon registration. We will send you a link to pay the remaining balance, which we must receive no later than 4 weeks before the start of the tour.

What if I change my mind or change my travel plans. Can I get a refund?

We can issue a partial refund if necessary as follows:

  • 90 days or more before departure date = 100% refund minus bank / credit card fees.
  • 60 to 89 days before departure date = You will incur a 50 USD cancellation fee plus bank / credit card fees.
  • 45 to 59 days before departure date = You will incur a 100 USD cancellation fee plus bank / credit card fees.
  • Shorter than 45 days notice = We cannot issue a refund after this time due to lodging, bicycle, and tour reservations already having been placed.

If I select a “shared room”, who will I be sharing with?

If you are traveling with another person, we will place you together in a room (please notify us whether in a double/queen bed or in separate beds). If you are traveling by yourself (or with an odd number of people) then we will do our best to match you up with another tour rider of the same sex.

If you choose to be in a room by yourself, you will need to pay a single supplement fee of $475 USD.

We cannot currently offer a triple room as few hotels offer triples.

What ages are allowed to attend?

21 and over.

What about drinking and driving? Isn’t it illegal to ride a bicycle intoxicated?

Yes, it is illegal to ride a bike intoxicated. And because German beer comes in large volumes, the following considerations are in place for this tour:

On several tour days the brewery visit is mid-day. Riders will be expected to use moderation when drinking beer during the daily rides. All lunch stops include the possibility of ordering a beer; however, this does not mean we will accept or tolerate over-drinking, especially when additional riding is necessary.

On most occasions our riders tend to share beers with each other. This allows everyone to sample a larger variety of beers while limiting intake and saving money. We encourage this method when possible.

All riders are required to sign a waiver at the beginning of the tour removing us from liability if over-drinking causes any damage of any kind. This is non-negotiable.

Due to each rider’s size / weight / body type, we cannot easily put a hard limit on the amount of alcohol that each person can reasonably consume. We leave this decision up to you  (although our guides won’t hesitate to let you know if we think you’ve had too much)

What are the average prices for beer / food / etc in Germany?

Half-liter beer = 3 to 4 Euros at a cafe, less at a beer garden (rare and specialty beers may be more)

Dinner = Expect about 7 to 15 Euros for a good-sized, meat-heavy meal.

Tipping is not obligatory as this is included in the price of your meal or beverage at all restaurants/cafes/beer gardens. That said, a small tip of 5% or leaving behind extra change is appreciated.

What kind of food will be served?

Breakfasts are mostly  typical “continental style,” which will vary but usually include breads and bread rolls, jams, cereal, milk, juice, coffee, fruit, cheese, yogurt, meats, and pastries. Every hotel we use on our tours provides breakfast, so in the morning you can eat whenever you wish before our departure time.

Snacks – Along the ride the guides will carry snacks that can be shared by the entire group. These will include candy, energy bars, fruit, extra water, etc. Everyone is encouraged to bring their own snacks or buy them along the way as well.

Lunches and Dinners – Our lunch/afternoon breaks will be at the bicycle-friendly beer gardens we pass along our routes. Typical German cuisine is delicious, but very meat heavy and includes pork knuckle, pork sausages, and assorted cold cuts, In September there is the local variety of carp, usually fried in a beer batter and loved by locals; in June, be sure to try the asparagus, both green and white, the latter  a local delicacy served with smoked ham or hollandaise sauce. Most meat dishes are accompanied BY Potato dumplings and sauerkraut.

Vegetarians – Franconian food is very pork-centered and vegetables are a low priority. Most restaurants have very limited vegetarian options and almost no vegan ones. Therefore this is the only Beercycling tour that is not suited for vegetarians/vegans.

What do I need to pack for the tour?

We recommend packing light (more room to take home beer souvenirs!) For self-supported tours, the bags on the bikes are fairly large and should accommodate all necessary clothing even for a 10-day tour. If you run out of room in your bags we can either help you mount another bag on the top of your rear rack, or place some equipment on one of the guides’ bikes, space allowing. 

A typical packlist for this trip is as follows:

Lightweight shirts = 3 or 4

Underwear = 3 or 4 pairs

Socks = 3 or 4 pairs

Pants = 1 pair

Shorts = 1 pair (padded cycling shorts are recommended if you haven’t spent much time on a bike seat)

Waterproof lightweight rain shell

Lightweight jacket

1 pair of shoes for on the bike (cycling shoes or running/gym shoes is fine)

1 pair of shoes for off the bike (hiking sandals or flip flops, or just skip this and use your on-bike shoes)

Sunglasses

Gloves (for cycling, should be lightweight)

Water bottles are included with bicycle rental (or you can bring a Camelbak, which can double for extra storage)

Camera + batteries + charger

Personal documents (passport, credit cards)

Hygiene products / Sunscreen / Lip balm

Bungee cord (to strap extra items to your bike rack)

A couple zip lock bags (helps on rainy days to extra waterproof your phone or other items)

We do not recommend carrying a laptop computer due to space constraints. Several hotels will have computers you can use, or if you have a smartphone you can connect it to WiFi in order to get internet access. Some past riders have brought small netbooks which squeeze in nicely with luggage.

What kind of ID / documentation / visas / vaccinations will I need?

Depending on the country you are traveling from, please consult your embassy for visa information prior to arrival. In general, one does not need a special visa to enter/exit Germany. Please remember to bring a passport to show identification when necessary along the trip. Sometimes hotels will ask for copies of your passport when we check in.

No special vaccinations are necessary for travel to Germany.

Do I need travel insurance?

It is not required, but it is recommended. This can be used for lost luggage, medical expenses, etc. Each person is on their own for this. We do not offer an insurance policy. Also, check with your credit card company, as some offer travel insurance or include it with your card.

What if Beercycling needs to cancel the trip?

In the very unlikely event that we need to cancel a trip, each person will be issued a 100% refund. We cannot, unfortunately, provide a refund for your other expenses, such as airfare. In all cases, Beercycling has backup tour guides waiting should something happen to your primary guide.

Am I required to tip my guides?

Nope. But tipping is very much appreciated and helps ensure the ability of our guides to run more and more tours each year!

Any other questions?

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We are happy to answer even the silliest of questions!

Call Us

1.805.794.0300

Welcome aboard!

2018/06/13 10:00:00
2018/09/19 10:00:00
June 13th to 18th, 2018
2018/06/13 10:00:00
September 19th to 24th, 2018
2018/09/19 10:00:00