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Trip Report A beer pilgrimage through Bavaria and Prague - Trip Report

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Here begins the tale of our beer pilgrimage through Bavaria and Prague. My husband said that he wanted to spend his 40th birthday in Munich, sitting in a beer garden, so we planned a trip around that goal. The beers we tried are rated using the following system:

- If this was the only beer available, I’d claim to be on medication and not able to drink.
-/+ Drinkable, but wouldn’t choose it given other choices.
+ Quite good
+’ Damned good
++ I’d cross an ocean to drink this beer.

Fortunately we did not encounter any beers with a "-" rating on this trip - not a truely bad beer to be found. I did spend a reasonable amount of the trip discussing American craft brews with people though - not all American beer is a "-", contrary to many people's beliefs. Just doing my part to increase global awareness about the quality beer that we do brew in the US. We all to what we can to further cultural understanding across the globe, right?

Warning - if you do no enjoy beer, stop reading NOW. This trip report is not for you. Otherwise, proceed at your own risk.

August 12 and 13 – Friday and Saturday - Days 1 and 2:

We flew from SFO to FRA, arriving in FRA just before 10 am. We rented a car through Hertz and were on our way to Bamberg. The drive was fine – some sections on the Autobahn, which were great. Lots of fast German cars and race track-style driving. We spent most of our time in the slow lanes doing about 120-130 km/hr, feeling like slow pokes. There was a lot of construction on the highways though, a theme that we saw throughout Germany. It seems that the Germans are heading off high unemployment and deeper recession by building, rebuilding, and revising.

Our first stop of the trip was Bamberg, where we stayed 3 nights. Bamberg is an absolutely wonderful town. Narrow streets lined with half-timbered buildings, a picturesque river, and of course the iconic town hall – oh, and beer. Let’s not forget the beer.

We didn’t start off in Bamberg very well though. Our hotel – Barock Hotel Am Dom – was in the middle of the Altstadt, very well located unless you are trying to arrive by car on a Saturday afternoon. Some of the streets were blocked to cars, so we had to find an alternate route to the hotel. We got within about 100 meters, but couldn’t seem to get any closer. There were tons of pedestrians and it was difficult to tell where the driving streets were and where the pedestrian streets were. Eventually with the help of some people, we made it to the hotel. A note for future travel – when we have a car, choose a hotel on the edge of the old town center, not in the middle.

The hotel Barock Am Dom is wonderful. (http://www.barockhotel.de/). We paid 110 euro/night including breakfast and parking. Our room was on the top floor and was quite spacious and airy with 2 dormer windows overlooking the street and the Dom. The décor is minimal, but everything is very clean and comfortable. Breakfast was good – standard German breakfast fare, good quality and plentiful.

After arrival at the hotel and a shower and change, we went out for a walk around town and a late lunch/early dinner. We were pretty tired, but it was only about 3 or 4 in the afternoon and we wanted to make sure we stayed up to adjust to the local time.
We had our first meal at a place called Zum Domreiter – chosen because it was close to the hotel and served Schlenkerla Rauchbier, which was the motivation for traveling to Bamberg in the first place. The food was fine, but the beer was divine. The restaurant is on a corner with seating inside and outside – due to large windows, the inside seats also had good views.

After a couple beers, we wandered around the town for a while and then around sunset stopped at a place called Stillbunch on Ober Sandstrasse for another beer and some people watching. We tried the Rauchbier from Brauerei Spezial which was good. Then back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep after a long day.

Beers for Day 2:
Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier ++
Brauerei Spezial Rauchbier +

August 14 –Sunday - Day 3:

This was our main sightseeing day for Bamberg. In the morning we took a walk around the Altstadt to see the town hall, the river, and various buildings there. Then we went to the Domplatz, which is the large square on a hill in the middle of the Altstadt which contains the Dom, the Old Court, and the Residenz. We took a guided tour of the Residenz for 4.5E each. It was in German, but brochures in other languages are provided, so it is worthwhile even for those who don’t speak German. The Residenz is quite interesting with plenty of original décor and furnishings. There is also a rose garden, which can be visited for free – beautiful garden with great views of the town. After morning services were over, we visited the cathedral, which was quite beautiful.

For lunch, we went to Ambrausuarium on Dominikanerstrasse. Their beer was ok. We tried the Helles and also got a Radler because it was a very warm day.

After lunch we walked around a bit and then climbed the hill to Michael’s church and visited the church and the Franconian Beer Museum (3E each). The beer museum was really interesting. All of the information is in German, but it was still need to see the displays, look at the machinery and tools, and the old pictures – along with all the beer memorabilia.

There is a café at the top of the hill, behind the church, with nice shade trees and a nice view, so we stopped for a snack. I had a wonderful cake and cup of tea, my husband had a Kapuzinger Dunkelweisen, which was very good. We relaxed at the café for a while, but then a storm came in. Lots of thunder and lightning and wind, then lots of rain. We sheltered in the restaurant nearby until the rain decreased to a drizzle and then walked back to the hotel where we waited out the rest of the rain. Walking through the rainy streets back to the hotel was magical – hardly anyone was out and everything was very quiet except for the light rain.

For dinner we went to Aecht Schlenkerla, which was great – really great. There is a small beer garden in the back, but it was closed from the rain, so we ate inside – interesting interiors with medieval-looking rooms. And the food was really good, hearty German fare. We had Rauchbier Marzen and Rauchbier weisen – both were excellent. There is also a window were you can order beer directly and people hang out and drink in the entryway of the restaurant and also out front in the street. The rain had stopped, so we joined the people in the street and hung out with our beers until late in the evening.

Beers for Day 3:
Ambrausiarium Helles -/+
Ambrausiarium Radler +
Kapuzinger Dunkelweisen +
Schlenkerla Rauchbier Wiesen ++
Schlenkerla Rauchbier Marzen ++

August 15 –Monday - Day 4:

Originally we had planned to take the car and do a day trip this day, but after the challenges we had driving to the hotel originally, neither of us was interested in extra driving in Bamberg. The weather was also iffy, so we decided to stay in Bamberg and see more of the town. Being Monday, a lot of the tourist-type attractions were closed, so we walked around a lot to see more of the town. We walked toward the larger river closer to the Bahnhof, which has a nice walking and biking path along its banks and some interesting bridges across. We probably walked 5-7 km that morning. We also walked along the river that goes through the Altstadt and did a little shopping. Bamberg is a very picturesque and charming town.

For lunch we went to Klosterbrau on Ober Muhlbruke. It is tucked away around the corner on a very small side street, but definitely worth the effort to find. The food was very good and they have nice tables for sitting out. The Klosterbrau Schwartzbier is excellent.

Dinner was at the Bamberger Hof on Karolinenstrasse, near the town hall. We chose this restaurant for the people-watching opportunities from the tables out front. The food turned out to be really good too. It was also pricier, but that is probably due in large part to its location near the town hall. I broke with the theme of the trip and had a glass of Riesling, which was quite good. My husband had a Kloster Scheyern.

Beers for Day 4:
Klosterbrau Schwartzbier ++
Klosterbrau Helles +
Kloster Scheyern Dopplebock Dunkel +’
Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Marzen ++

Stay tuned - next up, Aufsess and the Brauereinweg, then onto Munich...

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