Andreas Gündel's Top Ten Picks
Germans have a reputation for being very provincial about their beer. Many will only drink only the beer brewed in their city or town and will disparage the beer brewed even a few miles away. But that is changing and Andreas Gündel and his friends from Gütersloh (midway between Dortmund and Hannover) are prime examples. They travel frequently to Belgium to sample the wide variety of beers made there. He also travels to the US for the Great American Beer Festival (held in Denver each fall) and in the process visited nearly 300 US breweries and sampled over 3000 different American beers. Andreas has also done extensive traveling throughout Franconia and has visited over 100 Franconian breweries. These are his "Top 10" picks.
Klosterbräu, Kreuzberg. A monastery brewery, located in the most northern part of Franconia on one of the highest mountains of the Rhön range with one of the most beautiful settings of all Franconian breweries, a touristic spot comparable only to the atmosphere of the monasteries in Andechs and Weltenburg. It may be very crowded at weekends and closes early in the evening. The beer has not a very high alcohol content, but because of the height of the mountain it seems to go straighter to your head than other beers that you drink in the valleys. Go there in winter (but not in December, then it's closed!) to try the bock!
Göller, Zeil am Main. Brewery at the northern edge of the beautiful old town of Zeil with a very good beer selection (try the Bock and Weizenbock in season and the Wheats and the Märzen all year!) and a nice beer garden in summer
Mönchshof, Kulmbach. One of the more touristic spots in the former beer town No. 1 of Franconia (until all 4 breweries merged and now are under the head of Paulaner/Heineken), big beer garden, good selection of the widely available Kulmbacher beers.
Leuchtturm, Gunzenhausen. One of the very few new-kind-of-brewpubs in Franconia in the new lake area near the beautiful Altmühl Valley in the most southern part of Franconia
Rittmayer, Hallerndorf. Just one of more than a dozen small village brewpubs northwest of Forchheim, but their wheat beer makes this my favourite. This beer was for some years my absolute No. 1 (although it seems to have turned from banana-clove more citric taste in recent time). Don't miss the Bierkellers on nearby Kreuzberg (not to be confused with the monastery on Kreuzberg/Rhön), where you have the opportunity to try beers from at least 4 breweries from the surrounding villages.
Hausbrauer Dietz, Bruckberg. Nice little brewpub in a small town southwest of Nürnberg, I really liked the Schwarzbock.
Klosterbrauerei, Vierzehnheiligen. One more tourist spot not far from Bamberg with a noticeable brewery on site. After having a look into the beautiful baroque church I would recommend a Erntebier at the brewery-pub! The bocks are good as well. If in the area of Staffelstein you can hike to the top of the impressive Staffelberg mountain and afterwards have some more beers at the Staffel brewery down in Loffeld.
Schwanenbräu, Ebermannstadt. Not far from Forchheim lies Ebermannstadt at the edge of the Fränkische Schweiz - Franconian Switzerland, another touristic highlight half between Bamberg and Nürnberg. There are two breweries in this town, but I prefer Schwanenbräu as they produce three high class beers: Lager, Pils and Märzen.
Hartmann, Würgau. On the north edge of the Fränkische Schweiz, not far from Scheeßlitz, lies Würgau where you should not miss the Hartmann Brewpub and enjoy the Bock and the Weisse. Going the ca. 20 Kilometers from there to Bamberg you will find more brewpubs at the same street than at any other place in the world.
Schlenkerla / Fäßla / Mahrs / Klosterbräu / Spezial, Bamberg I cannot decide which of the above I like most, so I try to visit sof them during my stays in Bamberg. Schlenkerla has the best atmosphere, especially when crowded it can only be compared to such famous spots as Uerige in Düsseldorf or Hofbräu in Munich, and their Rauchbier-Märzen and wheat (and Bock in season) are outstanding. Fäßla, Mahrs and Klosterbräu offer a big choice of different beers, so you need some time if you want to try them all. Mahrs is the best place to go in summer with a very nice garden directly at the brewery in the suburb of Wunderburg (and if you are already there, don't miss Keesmann on the other side of the street, worth-to-visit beergarden as well!). If you are in town during the warmer months you should look for the Bierkellers at Stephansberg, especially that one of the Spezial brewery.