Earn a beer diploma on a brewery hike
Ever since my husband and I arrived in Germany, we often heard about the “beer diploma” you could earn by hiking between five breweries. Although it’s not an actual diploma, the Fünf Seidla Steig is a real trail in the Fränkische Schweiz area of Bavaria.
Fünf Seidla Steig translates to “five half-liter-beer hike.” The round-trip route takes you to five breweries in the span of 20 kilometers. Another option is hiking one way, which is only 10 kilometers. After you have tasted the beer at a brewery, you can stamp your own Stempelkarte (stamp card, also found at the breweries). Once you have visited all five breweries, you will have a nice memento of your time hiking through the Franconian countryside.
In early May, we decided to complete the trek and check it off our list of to-dos in Germany. We began our journey in Weißenohe and decided to hike to the next town to grab our first beer. We planned on doing the round-trip (rundtour) hike and wanted to save Klosterbrauerei Weißenohe for last. We trudged up the first hill toward Gräfenberg, following the Fünf Seidla Steig trail signs. A group of hikers behind us had a wagon filled with drinks, but when they saw the uphill dirt path, they quickly deserted the wagon.
The first stop was the Friedmann Bräustüberl, just outside the historic town walls of Gräfenberg. We initially headed to the brewery but quickly learned from a local that the place to taste the beer was down the hill at the restaurant. Unfortunately for us, the beer garden atop the hill was not yet open. We found our way to the Bräustüberl, where we sat outside and enjoyed our drinks before walking through downtown Gräfenberg.
Next, we were off to Hohenschwärz to try Brauerei Hoffmann's signature brew. This section of the hike took us through forests, until we came upon the small village of Hohenschwärz. At Brauerei Hoffmann, most patrons were seated in the beer garden, enjoying local Franconian dishes along with the house brew. We followed suit and tasted the Hoffmann beer, which was a darker brew than the others we had along the way. The waitstaff at this family-run establishment was friendly and welcoming. The brewery opened in 1897 and is currently being run by the fifth generation of the family.
After finishing our beers at Brauerei Hoffmann, we headed down a field along a row of trees in the direction of Thuisbrunn, home of Elch-Bräu. Two kilometers later, we came upon the modern Elch brewery, which is adjacent to the historic Guesthouse Seitz. This brewery, with its moose mascot, opened in 2006. We sipped our beers in the stylish outdoor seating area made of stone. This uniquely designed setting was unlike any of the beer gardens we had seen thus far. The brewery guesthouse also has a recent addition — a distillery (Brennerei). Here they brew special Elch schnapps.
The largest chunk of the hike was next, between Thuisbrunn and Gräfenberg. The six-kilometer path took us to Brauerei Lindenbräu. We tasted our beer in the no-frills outdoor seating area. Here, I purchased an official Fünf Seidla Steig beer mug to commemorate our journey. I chose the handmade version of the Krug for 12 euros. With one more stop on the hike, we set off for Weißenohe.
Klosterbrauerei Weißenohe is set in the complex of a former monastery. Monks brewed beer at this site until the monastery was given to the Winkler family in 1803. The Winklers kept the tradition alive and have been brewing here ever since. The complex has a chapel, brewery and restaurant. We enjoyed the final beer of the trip in the pergola-covered garden.
- Prepare for a long day. Start early, so you can take your time to enjoy the scenery and the brews.
- The Nuremberg area public transportation (VGN) website has a map and great tips about using public transport.
- Bring euros. Cash is king inthese small towns.