of Beer



of Beer

JUL. 26 - AUG. 3, 2023


When most people think of German beer culture, they picture southern Bavaria, and Munich. But for us, nirvana is found several hours to the north: Franconia, and Bamberg. If we make one beer pilgrimage per year, this is where we go. Franconia boasts more artisanal breweries per mile or capita than any place in the world. Farmhouse, tavern, and monastery brew houses dot the landscape, as they have for centuries. Medieval alleys and trails lead to ancient beer halls, kellers, and summer festivals. And true craft brewers — some carrying on centuries-old family traditions — secretly conjure up authentic old-world lager, via time-honored methods.

There’s Germany, and then there’s Franconia. Other Germans come here to rekindle their love for traditional beer culture; international craft brewers come for brewing inspiration. We’ll show you why as we bus, hike, train and swim our way through the world’s Motherland of Beer.



Welcome to Bamberg - try the beer

Those who arrive early enough can join us for extra-curricular biergarten and keller visits and (hopefully) a tour of world-famous Malzfabrik Weyermann. But the official tour begins in the evening with a full-group dinner at Klosterbräu Bamberg, in the old town. Here we’ll enjoy a few half-liters of classic Franconian lager and dive right into our first hefty, traditional northern-Bavarian meal. Afterwards, we’ll be well-placed to kick off a bar-crawl to breweries like Schlenkerla, Ahörnla, Spezial and Fässla, to name a few.




Today the group is off on its first road trip, rolling through the placid Franconian countryside west of Bamberg before arriving at our favorite German farmhouse brewery, Zehendner. Here we’ll drink the amazing Mönchsambacher Lagerbier, tapped and poured (often by the house matriarch) straight from the cask. We’ll tour the small brewery, have at least one more beer and shoot some hoops in the biergarten before heading into the forest to commune with flora and fauna at the winding, wooden observation tower Baumwipfelpfad Steigerwald. 

Having worked up our second thirst of the day, we’ll then head to roadside-village brewery Bayer. Here we’ll quaff the sublime, unfiltered Landbier and savor the family restaurant’s Slow Food-approved seasonal Franconian cuisine. We return in the evening for another optional late night out in Bamberg.


FRIDAY JULY 28, 2023

Exploring Fränkische Schweiz

This is our big hike day. Heading south from Bamberg, we enter the scenic, wooded Fränkische Schweiz (“Franconian Switzerland”) region, stopping first at GenussHof Pingold, a beautiful family hop farm and one of the world’s largest organic hop growers. 

From there it’s a quick ride to the magnificent Klosterbrauerei Weissenohe, the world’s second oldest brewery, where we’ll tap a special rare keg selected for our group before sitting down to a fairly epic beer lunch. And this is just the starting point for the Fünf-Seidla-Steig (“Five ½ Liters Trail”), a six-mile, day-long ramble that leads to three local breweries before finishing with a bang at Elch-Bräu, whose biergarten has the feel of a botanical paradise. Speaking of botanicals, those with an interest in German kräuterlikor may get a private tour of the brewer’s onsite distillery

Note: In early ’23 a fire seriously damaged the Elch-Bräu brew house. We plan to finish our hike there as usual but the availability of food and beer at the brewery is yet to be determined.



Only In Franconia

This is a day of exclusives. After a late morning of rest or Bamberg sightseeing, we’ll board the bus and head once again to the countryside, with special American-expat guest Jim “Bocky” Barnes aboard. We’ll visit the small village of Schlüsselfeld, where we’ll taste beers at Bocky’s two adopted breweries, Hertl (the tiniest in Franconia) and Scheubel, the very epitome of a classic Franconian small-town brewery/gasthaus/garten. 

 Then we’re off to a very special, hidden gem: the Brullikeller, a centuries-old private woodland hideaway where a secret society of beer enthusiasts taps its own cave-fermented lager just for us. Guests will have the option of draining the keg or going for a swim in the nearby lake. Or both, as beer steins are allowed in the water! In the evening we return to Bamberg and an array of free-night options: dinner and beer at a scenic hilltop keller, craft cocktails, late night café drinking on the river.


SUNDAY JULY 30, 2023

Welcome to Annafest, a unique beer festival. Essentially it is 20+ bierkellers on one hill, all open for business. It's a blast!

Pilgrimage Sunday

This morning and early afternoon guests will have a choice of a free half day or a guided Bamberg walk led by Ana. The walk will include major historical and architectural features and an overview of the various old town neighborhoods of this UNESCO Heritage Site city.

In the late afternoon we’ll make a short train ride from Bamberg to Forchheim, scene of the sprawling, mountainside-forest spectacle Annafest. This massive summer celebration features the world’s longest beer caves, bandstands, carnival amusements and a cast of thousands whooping it up in the local-brewery-run biergartens. As good-natured chaos generally ensues here, we’ll plan set meeting places and return times for the ride back to Bamberg.


MONDAY JULY 31, 2023

The Secret Capital Of Beer

In the morning we’ll depart our Bamberg hotel for the last time, and make the drive to Kulmbach, where we’ll set up for a couple of days. The little town will be in the midst of its busiest festival week, but we’ll ease into our stay here, first taking a guided tour at the fascinating Bavarian Brewery Museum, set in one of Kulmbach’s great and now defunct historical breweries, Mõnchshof. After the tour and a sampling of museum-brewed beer at Mönchshof we’ll make a short walk to the placid biergarten of the Kommunbräu brewpub, where we’ll have lunch and try the house specialties.

The afternoon is free, but there will be plenty of options: a shopping spree for dirndls and lederhosen, a fun dip in the town pool, maybe even a side trip to the historical (and brewing) town of Bayreuth. In the evening there will be the possibility of grabbing spots one night early at the Kulmbacher Bierwoche festival, or, for those who want to wait for the main event the next day, a bar and food crawl in the old town.



Big Castle, Big Tent

Looming over the town of Kulmbach and dominating the local landscape from its mountain perch is the massive Plassenburg Castle, Franconia’s largest and best-preserved fortress. Having worked up a healthy thirst (which will come in handy) hiking up, we’ll get a private tour and marvel at its impressive military artifacts collection.

Then we’re back into town for some last-minute souvenir shopping, or to rest up for our tour’s main event: Kulmbacher Bierwoche. We’ll arrive at the fest site at 4:00, optionally decked out in our traditional Bavarian garb, to take over several coveted VIP tables. We’ll then proceed to stomp, sing, eat, drink and whoop the night away, to the thumping sound of an energetic German party band and the unison singing of thousands of happy Franconians.




Escape From Franconia

After going at it this hard in the provincial motherland of beer for seven days, it’s time to make a clean break, get back to the cosmopolitan city of Frankfurt and begin to return to some semblance of a normal life. Or maybe to take in one last night of Teutonic debauchery? Your call.

Having arrived in the early afternoon at our hotel, guests will have the option of laying low in preparation for early morning flights or hopping over to Frankfurt’s old party-neighborhood of Sachsenhausen to partake in the city’s gift to the beverage gods, apfelwein. While totally optional, this excursion will include an apfelwein tasting, dinner, and maybe more apfelwein, or beer, or cocktails. Sachsenhausen’s abundance of late-night international fast-food options offers the perfect close-out to our journey.




Auf Wiedersehen

Frankfurt being a world transit hub, guests will be perfectly situated this morning to either catch their flights home or continue on to other German, European or intercontinental destinations by air, rail, bus or rental car. ICBT staff will be on hand for anyone needing assistance, ensuring that a great trip ends with a non-stressful departure day. 





  8 Nights of hotel accommodation

  Ground transportation to and from all experiences listed in itinerary except where noted.

  15 Meals

      – 8 Breakfasts

      – 3 Lunches 

      – 4 Dinners

**Tour prices are per person and do not include airfare.

*Single occupancy rooms are limited.

More information about the destinations
we'll visit on our Franconia Tour


**Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of information presented on this webpage.  Inner Circle Beer Tours (ICBT) is not responsible for errors in or damages resulting from use of the information contained herein.  Information contained on this webpage is subject to change without notice.**

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