Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Day Nine: Merkendorf, busted!

First a note about lack of river traffic: It turns out both the Danube and Rhine rivers are too low for most boats to navigate. That may explain why the cruise boat we saw seemed to be empty.

Our plan for the day was to head for Brauerei Wagner, Merkendorf. They have been closed for a few weeks on holiday and this was their first day back open.

But first we stopped in at Cafe Abseits for lunch and beer. The beer of the month was the Gänstaller Kellerbier, so I had that and Bob had the always excellent Mönschambacher Lager.

Gerhard also brought out a couple of beers he thought we might be interested in. The first was a “Fränkisches Rotbier” by a new contract brewer BroBier, run by two brothers. Their beers are mostly brewed by Binkert in Breitengüssbach. It was fine but not particularly special.

Next was a Maibock from Meine Bräu in Hof. It was very good. A bit maltier in the finish that a typical Maibock, there were enough hops to make it very drinkable.

We felt a few drops of rain and Bob checked is weather app...

It looked very much line we’d probably be riding back from Merkendorf in the rain, so we bailed. Gerhard mentioned that Hopfengarten did have their brewery up and running and technically they were open so we headed over there.

Behind the building is a whole complex of greenhouses and large garden patches, growing everything from herbs, tomatoes (200+ varieties), chilis and hops (hence the name). They basically specialize in taking a base Helles Lager and flavor them with “botanicals.”  The effect is usually fairly subtle — you can taste the underlying beer, but the added flavor come thru.

First up was Minz-mann — flavored with mint. You are going to get tired of reading this, but it worked but I can’t explain exactly how. A beer with a bit of mint in the nose and in the background flavor.

Next was the lemon Zitronic. This one did not work as well for me. It was more a lemon oil aroma and flavor which to be brought “Lemon Pledge” furniture cleaner to mind. I sort of expected more a “Radler” character and it wasn’t that.

Third was Himbo,  raspberry. You’ll notice the beer isn’t pink. It had a nice bit of raspberry in the nose and just a hint in the flavor. It was very enjoyable.

The final beer was Gurki — you guessed it — a cucumber beer. If you like cucumber water you will like this beer. Imaging brewing a beer using cucumber water and this is what you’d get. It was the strongest flavored of the bunch. Bob really liked it, but it was a bit too much cucumber for me.

We didn’t get a chance to try “Tomaten Joe” their tomato beer. Some Swedish beer friends had tried it and really liked it. Next time! The also make a Hopfen-Gin which also sounds interesting and will have to wait for the next visit.

They were in the process of (hand) bottling a batch so I couldn’t get a good shot of their brewery but they do have one. It is small, what you might expect a restaurant that wanted to brew beer to install.

They also had flowers growing everywhere — this picture doesn’t do it justice — it was a wall of color.

It wasn’t raining yet so we thought we check out one more place. Along the canal side bike path/sidewalk near Wunderburg is a little snack bar stand that has been there forever. Usually as I’d ride by there would be sketchy looking people drinking cheap beer from the bottle and I never stopped. I notice that it had been renovated and upgraded and was now “Kiosk Kunni” and they have a couple of beers from Brauerei Hönig in Tiefenellern on tap — their Pils and Lager.

I later learned that initial that had just one beer but was served via a gravity barrel (Bayerische Anstich) but had switched to regular kegs, which I understand because I’m sure their sales depend on the weather.

Both were in good shape. As we sat down, the rain started, so we sipped slowly and waited for a break. One came and we made it back to the apartment relatively dry.

We decided to walk down to Fässla for dinner but they were absolutely packed. So we had a Pils (was OK but a little softer, less hoppy than usual) in the schweme.

Dinner was a excellent Döner from Imbiss Maramiss up the street.

I am almost embarrassed to post the map, but in the interested of transparency, here it is

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Day Eight: Schmausen Keller

An easy day today a ride out to a nearby keller in Reundorf, the Schmausenkeller. The keller is also the tap room for the Brauerei Müller in Reundorf — they closed the one in town because everybody preferred the keller.

Heading south along the cancel we noticed a cruise boat heading for the locks. We haven’t seem much river traffic this trip, probably because being August everybody is on vacation. This one seemed empty of passengers, so I guess it was deadheading back to it’s home base. BTW, the freighter on the left (Kilian) has been their for days. Not sure what is going on there —maybe could pay lock fees?

The Schmausenkeller doesn’t open until 4pm so he had some time to kill. Our path took us by Pettstadt so you can figure out what is next.  We stopped in at Schrauder Keller for krug or three of Löwenbräu Buttenheim.

As always, the beer was fresh and cold.

They were setting up for their Monday grill, which is chicken and it was tempting to hang around but we had a set a goal and we were determined to meet it.

On the way we passed a cafe with the following sign, meaning (I take) “Yield to Coffee and Cafe”. — if it had been beer we might have stopped.

The Schmausenkeller is up on the side of a hill so it has a good view of the valley. They are open year round and in the cooler months the main building acts as a regular Gastsätte.

As I said, nice views...

Even some funny looking bicycles...

The beer is ordered at a booth that literally is in the side of the hill. The beer is good, though helped a bit by the location. And the price — it is €2 a seidla.

They also have one of these (I forget the German word for them) erected by the 1979 Stammtisch. The shields on the sides all represent various local organizations.

A nice day, €2 beer, sitting outside with a great view, it was tough to leave. But Bamberg was getting any closer sitting there so finally we headed back.  As well passed by Schrauder Keller in Pettstadt we made sure not to inhale as to get distracted by the roasting chickens. It would be the chickens that were the problem, with was the 2-3 beers that would accompany them.

Our way back took us near Wunderburg so we decided to get a bite to eat at Keesmann.

The inside rooms were all closed off and only the courtyard patio was available. No problem. We had a Sternla Lager and a Herren Pils. Both were excellent but the Pils even more so.

It is Pfifferlinge (Chanterelles) season so we had a Schnitzel Cordon Bleu (stuffed with ham and cheese) covered with a Pfifferlinge cream sauce. It was wonderful. And the fries were also very good, very crisp.

Only 27km but a fun day.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Day Seven: Stettfeld

We decided to head for Stettfeld today, to Brauerei Schwarzer Adler. This is one of my favorite breweries and it is just over the border in Unterfranken.

It was the warmest day so far and we had a stiff headwind as we headed out. By the time we got to Viereth I was ready for a break so we stopped in again at Mainlist

Of course a beer was the first order of business.  Over the years I have found their beers to be variable — from meh to quite good. This one was bland but eminently drinkable.

I thought to get something light for lunch but I forgot it was Sunday and the menu was mostly big meals, Schäuferla, Schweinebraten, etc. They did have Pfifferlinge (Chanterelle mushrooms) in a cream sauce with some kind of bread kloss and a salad. That worked.

Soon back on the ride, refreshed and fortified. Not much interesting on the way, lots of farmland and off on the hills some vineyards.

After passing thru Staffelbach home of the now closed Brauerei Hertlein. There were a couple of cars parked in front but it still looked very closed. There are rumors from time to time that someone was going to take over but I’ve heard no new on that.

Past Staffelbach is Stettfeld, home of Adler-Bräu, a/k/a Brauerei Schwarzer Adler.

They have a little Biergarten in the courtyard in the back and I was at first surprised to see the tap back there closed and almost nobody there. Then again I realized it was Sunday and everybody was inside having their Sunday meal.

No big deal, just means we have to fetch our own beers. Their Pils is their flagship beer and they had a Lager on tap as well.

After 20km this was a two beer stop so I had another Pils. Would have had a third but it was a long hot ride back to Bamberg so I passed.

When I first started to ride out to Stettfeld back in 2007 I didn’t have a phone with a data plan so I relied on paper maps. The route I found means riding on a country highway for a bit. There never has been any issue with that — it is not real busy and German drivers are (mostly) respectful to cyclists. But Google Maps showed an alternative way thru the fields that didn’t have the highway stretch, was flatter and shorter to boot. What is not to like! So we tried it and the surface wasn’t quite as good as on the way out but was passable. We lost a bit distance savings backtracking where a sign was missing but all in all it was fine.

Soon we were back to the Regnitz had were approaching Bischberg, home of Brauerei zur Sonne. We hadn’t stop in yet this trip so we did.

We ordered the Lager and it was wonderful as always. So nice, we had another.

Then it was a short ride into Bamberg, were we stopped at Schlenkerla. I had the Kräusen and Bob had the Märzen. I wasn’t a fan of the Kräusen when it first came out but the past few years they have hit their stride and now I prefer it on a warm day.

I also realized I’d been in Bamberg for a week and have not yet had a Bamberg Onion. So I ordered one.

Delicious as always. And in case somebody is wondering, that is mashed potatoes with it.

A relatively flat 42km for the day.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Day Six: Went the extra kilometer

Different weather apps/websites were forecasting different probabilities of rain but we decided to risk it and ride down to Stiebarlimbach and Roppelt’s Keller. Some beautiful scenery as well as we rode up the Regnitz and Rhine-Danube canal.

After about 15km we took a short detour inland to the village of Schlammersdorf, home of Brauerei Witzgall.

This is one of my favorite Franconian beers. From the front it looks like they are closed, but around the back they have courtyard and a few tables and were serving their wonderful lager.

Luckily we were in the covered part of the courtyard as it stated to rain. We didn’t want to ride in the rain so we had another beer. When the rain and beer were finished, we though about using the excuse it was too sunny to ride, but didn’t and headed out.

We stopped in Hallendorf at Lieberth’s Dorfkeller — which I thought opened at noon on Saturday but I was mistaken and they were not yet open. So we rode on to Stiebarlimbach.

Roppelt’s Keller is one of my favorites. The beer is good but on itself not really worth the ride (for me, for others it is like going to the corner brewery) but setting is so idyllic 

They had both a Kellerbier and a Dunkel on draft and we started with one of each. The Dunkel was good but the Kellerbier was much better.

They have a kitchen that has a fairly wide menu for such a place. I hadn’t yet had a Schäuferla and here it was only €8.50. — a bargain! I had a Kellerbier to go with it as did Bob to go with his bratwurst. Not being a Franconian native, I substituted potato salad for the kloss. The ladies at the food booth got a kick out of that.

Not only do they have WiFi, they have a “Keller Cam” so you can visit them virtually.  That yellow blob in the lower right corner is me trying to get a screen shot.

Our original plan was to catch the train back to Bamberg, but the nearest stop — Eggolsheim — had only hourly service and with our luck we’d miss the train by 5 minutes and half to wait around. The next station on the line, Hirschaid, and three trains an hour but by that time we’d be nearly home, so we decided to skip Lieberth’s Dorfkeller and ride directly back to Bamberg, hopefully ahead of the rain.

Again, lots of nice river/canal views.

We got some light rain but nothing worth stopping to put on jackets and after a few water/rest breaks were back in Bamberg. On the way we passed near Maher’s so we stopped in for a couple of beers.

The U is a shadow of its former self but it still is a decent beer.  After the Schäuferla I wasn’t really all that hungry but couldn’t pass up some Kasespätzle, a/k/a German Mac & Cheese.

Another 1.5km and we where home, just crossing the 50km mark. Not far for some my longest ride since I was in Bamberg last year.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Day Five: Riding around, not so much beer.

We decided to ride out to Merkendorf and visit Brauerei Hummel, knowing that Brauerei Wagner was still on holiday. An uneventful ride, by bike could do it by itself its been so many times.

Hummel has a lot of beers on tap. This time only seven though...

We started with the Pils and the Kellerbier and both were in fine form.

It was lunch time and they had marinated herring on the menu — I think I was a penguin in a former life as I love herring.

With so many beers it seemed a shame to only try two we we order their Rauchbier “Räucherla.”  No problems with it but one was enough

Bob had never been Brauerei Göller so we decided to stop there and decide our next move. I had visited there for years before I knew they had a nice Biergarten in the back.

We order one of of the Lager and their Dunkel. The Dunkel was a bit more interesting but both, while well made, were a little on the bland side. Worthwhile if you are in the neighborhood but not worth a trek form themselves.

We decided to try next for Brauerei Knoblach in Schammelsdorf. It was up a big hill but I felt up to it. Wrong. We got to a T-intersection and I was about done. Turn right to go up an even bigger hill to Schammelsdorf or turn left and go (apparently) downhill to Köttensdorf and Brauerei Hoh. I chose left but after that short downhill was another big hill. I made it, but barely. Then it was a nice downhill into the village to find the brewery closed for vacation.  We also found out from some other riders that Knoblach was open.  Oh well.

So we headed back to Memmelsdorf and stopped in at Drei Kronen. That had just released a Festbier the day before so we had one of those along with the Keller-Pils (it has a new name but I forget what it is).  The Festbier was really, really good. Made with 95% Vienna malt (looked darker than the phone below, its the one in the tall glass). We also got to try their specialty wheat beer Orgelweisse, originally brewed 25 years ago to help the local church buy a new organ.  Forgot to get a picture, though.

Friday was the start of the Memmelsdorfer Kirchweih and even though they are on holiday, Brauerei Wagner had a booth set up so we stopped in for a Lagerbier (looks red from the tent).  Delicious as always, can’t wait for them to reopen next week.

We rode back to Bamberg and made ourselves presentable to polite society (as much as possible) and headed over to Spezial. This is the last night they are open before their holiday and we figured it would be jammed but we actually found a seat, had a nice dinner and a couple of beers. 

All in all a good day even with the brewery missteps.