On my recent trip to Nuremberg I spent a day hiking in the fränkische Schweiz – a rural, particularly picturesque region of the southern German Franconia – following the 5 Seidla Steig hiking route. Seidla is Franconian dialect for a 500ml mug of beer and yes, that’s right folks, it’s a beer hike. This is one of the many reasons I love Franconia. The challenge? A 19 km hike with 5 breweries en route, drinking a beer at each. It sounds tough but someone’s gotta do it.
I caught the Deutsche Bahn regional train from Nuremberg Nordost Bahnhof at 9:30am on Saturday morning and got off at Weißenohe, the starting point of the beery tour. (The train journey takes approximately 40 minutes from Nuremberg and a single ticket costs €7.20.) It was optimal weather for a hike: 20°C, lots of shade and no rain. So this meant that the route was quite busy, with fellow hikers varying from a large group of male football players to families with children and solo travellers, such as myself.
The first brewery of the trip is in Weißenohe and is just a stone’s throw from the railway station. Although it was still early, I ordered the first Seidla of the day: Klosterbrauerei Weißenohe Altfränkisch Klosterbier. I supped slowly and inspected the route map whilst sat in the shady beer garden next to the church. The beer was traditionally brewed by monks who apparently started to brew at this location in the 11th century.
From Weißenohe a steep 1km walk brought me into Gräfenberg. This is the largest town in the local area with a population of 4000 and 2 operating breweries (and one former Kommunbrauhaus that has been converted into modern offices). The second Seidla of the day was the Brauerei Friedmann Fränkisches Landbier, 4.9% ABV. Crisp, decent hop bitterness and did not very last very long in the midday Biergarten heat.
En route to the third brewery in the neighbouring village I got pretty lost. Twice. But this wasn’t so much of an issue because I was quite happy wandering through quaint Franconian villages and asking the locals for directions. Having built up a raging thirst, I finally made it to Hohenschwärz and stopped for the third Seidla: Brauerei Hofmann Dunkles Exportbier, 5.2% ABV. The least spectacular beer of the day in an overcrowded Biergarten.
This experience did not however affect the overall mood as the fourth brewery was located less than 1 km away in the village of Thuisbrunn. The penultimate Seidla was the Thuisbrunner Elch-Bräu Dunkel, 4.9% ABV. Rich, smooth and served in a fancy Steinkrug. From this point onwards I followed the circular route of approximately 5km, wandering through the woods and farmers fields, back to Gräfenberg, where there was still one brewery waiting for me. Here I drank the fifth and final victory Seidla: Lindenbräu Vollbier, 5.2% ABV. Hurrah! I managed to complete the 5 Seidla Steig without getting too lost along the way. The Vollbier was full bodied, easy drinking and went great with my Schnitzel. I took the 6:30pm train back to Nuremberg from Gräfenberg and felt stuffed, tipsy and very content.
It was a really fun day out and the quality of the beer and food was superb. The route is scenic and well marked throughout. Additionally, the brochure published by the Verkehrsverbund Großraum Nürnberg (transport association Nuremberg) provides lots of helpful hints and tips. I would definitely recommend this to others interested in hiking and beer – perhaps life’s most beautiful and simple combination.
Here are a few more photos from the day hike: