Written by Franz Hofer

The rush of cool mountain air was bracing as I stepped off the train on the banks of the Schluchsee. A short bus ride later and I’d be in front of an old beer wagon laden with barrels, the coral-coloured Rothaus brewery rising up in the background. By then the fresh air was starting to warm, mingling fragrances of the forest with the aromas of brewing.

Anyone with even a passing acquaintance with German beer knows Rothaus, the Black Forest brewery with colourfully labeled bottles depicting a young woman in traditional dress. What fewer people know is that Rothaus is a short train ride from Freiburg, southwestern Germany’s city of Gothic spires, cobblestone lanes, and medieval gates.

Whether you’re coming from Switzerland in the south or points north in Germany, Freiburg makes for an ideal day or two of beer explorations before you venture into the heart of the Black Forest. After you’ve had your fill of Freiburg, it’s a mere 2 hours by train and bus to Rothaus.

The ride up from Freiburg is a like a curtain lifting on the hiking that awaits you in the region. The train traverses meadows tucked up against the rolling foothills of the Alps and trundles through narrow valleys with rushing waterfalls. Black Forest houses with distinctive sloped roofs and carved balconies dot the fields and cling to hillsides overlooking pristine lakes. Before the train ends its journey in the town of Seebrugg on the Schluchsee, you’ll pass the steely blue waters of Titisee and its resort village as well. It’s worth stopping off at either of these places if you have time. If not, get the bus that climbs up the steep and winding road to Rothaus.


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