6 Bavarian Beer Gardens Worth Visiting This Summer

A cool breeze coursing through the canopy of green leaves overhead. The crunch of gravel underfoot as you seek out a table in the shade, frothy mug of beer in hand. Nothing bespeaks summer in Bavaria more than the beer garden. And nothing meets the current pandemic moment better. If you’re still on the fence about traveling this summer, an al fresco beer is one of your safest culinary options.

Written by Franz Hofer, illustrations by Ariella Basson

POTTENSTEIN: BEER HIKING IN THE HEART OF FRANCONIAN SWITZERLAND

-Three short hikes punctuated by lunch at Brauerei Mager, a beer in the Bruckmayer beer garden, and dinner in the courtyard of the Brauerei Hufeisen.~

Written by Franz Hofer for A Tempest in a Tankard

A rare day it was when I woke up on that glorious May morning in the “before times” after completing the 5-Seidla-Steig. Sunshine two days in a row after a week-long stretch of getting soaked and even snowed on. An auspicious start to the day. I caught the first train out of Gräfenberg along the 5-Seidla-Steig via Nürnberg through rustic villages, emerald fields, narrow chasms, and the occasional hop farm. The bus from Pegnitz plunged even deeper into the forest before emerging in Pottenstein, where I met up with Rich Carbonara, beer wanderer extraordinaire, for a day packed with hikes.

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THE HOFBRÄUHAUS AND THE ORIGINS OF BOCK BEER

Written by Franz Hofer

THE HORNS OF A BOCK-LIKE DILEMMA
Duke Wilhelm V found himself caught between a rock and a hard place in matters of beer.

Despite the promulgation of what we now call the “Reinheitsgebot” by his forbears in 1516, and despite subsequent attempts to regulate the quality of beer in Bavaria, the regional draught was variable at best. That wasn’t the case with beer brewed in northern Germanic realms at the dawn of the early modern era. Particularly well-regarded was the rich and strong beer from Einbeck, a Hanseatic town near Hannover — so much so that the Bavarian court ordered shipments of the beer for festive occasions.

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ON TAP: BEER TRAVEL AND BEER CULTURE IN THE YEAR AHEAD

Written by Franz Hofer for A Tempest in a Tankard

OF LEMONS AND LEMONADE

It was almost two years ago to the day that I wrote an upbeat post about what 2020 had in store. I was starting work on a book project, and had a number of other writing ideas on the go.

And then the pandemic hit. I shelved the search for an agent and publisher. Who’d even be interested in a beer travel book in the midst of all this uncertainty, I thought? — And then wondered, in those early months of the pandemic, whether it was even a little perverse to write about travel. There was so much more at stake.

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MECHELEN: HET ANKER BREWERY AND CLASSIC BELGIAN BEER CAFES

Written by Franz D. Hofer for A Tempest in a Teapot

An entry from my beer notebook describes a day trip from Brussels in June 2019: “By shortly after noon, I had found my way to Het Anker, the ‘real’ reason for my visit to Mechelen. I love how beer, breweries, and their history get me out to places I wouldn’t otherwise visit!”

When you think about all those dazzling Belgian cities like Bruges, Antwerp, or Ghent, Mechelen probably isn’t the first place you’d think of visiting on a trip to Belgium. But with its magnificent St. Rumbold Cathedral, historic béguinage quarters, and vibrant squares, Mechelen is well worth the 30-minute train ride from Brussels.

Mechelen is also home to a dense concentration of classic beer cafes that exude a time-worn charm you just won’t find in many of today’s sleek but curiously anodyne establishments. And if that’s not enough, it’s also home to Het Anker, brewers of Gouden Carolus, a range of weighty beers named after Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.

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Ales and Windswept Ambles Along the Fife Path Near Edinburgh

Written by Franz Hofer

Scotland is a walker’s paradise of wild and dramatic landscapes. Long-distance trails hug the banks of deep lochs and rugged coastal shoreline. They traverse glens and windswept plains, and pass in the shadow of craggy peaks. You could lose yourself for weeks on end along Scotland’s walking paths and hiking trails, all the while striking that three-note chord “in which the mind, the body, and the world are aligned.”

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AUGUSTINER, MUNICH’S RETRO-HIP BREWERY

Written by Franz Hofer

Augustiner is Munich’s retro-hip brewery. That wasn’t always the case. Until relatively recently, Augustiner-Bräu was considered a dusty old brewery. There’s no denying its age: Founded by monks in 1328, Augustiner is Munich’s oldest brewery. But conceptions of tradition change. Today, the brewery’s use of wooden barrels, its retro bottles and labels, its rejection of mass advertising, and its engagement on behalf of Munich’s architectural heritage has garnered the brewery a cult following thanks to its sense of tradition.

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AUGSBURG, HISTORIC BEER TOWN ON MUNICH’S DOORSTEP

Written by Franz Hofer for A Tempest in a Tankard

So many great beers and breweries, so little time. It’s no wonder cities like Augsburg get overlooked when you could easily spend an entire vacation sampling the liquid delights of Munich or Bamberg. But not only is Augsburg worth visiting for its cathedrals and cobblestoned lanes, it’s also a beer town rich in history. And you can make it there from Munich in as much time as it takes to reach beer pilgrimage sites like Kloster Andechs.

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BELGIAN BEER CAFÉ VIGNETTES: ’T BRUGS BEERTJE, BRUGES

Written by Franz Hofer

Bruges is Brussels’ alter ego. Swans floating languidly on canals, quiet cobblestone lanes, and magnificent Flemish architecture add up to a far cry from the gritty bustle of Brussels. But in things beer, the two cities are equals. Bruges boasts a few breweries and dozens of beer cafes, some of them world-class establishments like the ethereal Vlissinghe and the classy De Garre.

Aside from the buzz of conversation, one of the first things you’ll notice when you step inside the Beertje is the myriad glasses hanging above the bar like a forest of stalactites, a sure sign that the place takes the art of beer presentation seriously.

What started as a hundred-strong beer list when the “Little Bear” opened its doors in 1983 quickly evolved into a veritable compendium of beers some three hundred strong — one of the most well-rounded lists in Belgium. The selection runs the gamut from Belgian standards to plucky brewers who have taken a page out of the craft beer playbook.

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TRAUNSTEIN: BEER IN THE FOOTHILLS OF THE BAVARIAN ALPS

Written by Franz Hofer for A Tempest in a Tankard

I’d passed through Traunstein several times on trains between Vienna and Munich and had always been struck by the beauty of its surroundings. The picturesque region is a place of flower-bedecked meadows, old wooden farmhouses, and cows grazing languidly in emerald fields. Situated amid rolling hills in the heart of southeastern Bavaria’s Chiemgau region, Traunstein is also just a stone’s throw from the wild and majestic Alps towering up to the south. And then there’s the beer scene: a lively market square surrounded by taverns, three breweries, and one of the more pleasant beer gardens in Bavaria.

One day I happened upon some beers from Hofbräuhaus Traunstein at a bottle shop in Vienna. Tasty, those beers were, so much so that I resolved to take a day trip to Traunstein the next time I was in Salzburg.

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