of Beer



of Beer

JUL. 24 - AUG. 1, 2024


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

Pre-tour arrivers can kick off their week with various brewery and pub visits in Bamberg, and there should also be an opportunity to join a tour this afternoon at Malzfabrik Weyermann. But our journey officially begins in the evening with a full-group dinner at the legendary Schlenkerla in Bamberg’s old town. 6th-generation Brewmaster Matthias Trum will present a fascinating history of Bamberg brewing, with a focus on Schlenkerla’s specialty, rauchbier. Hearty Franconian fare, world-class lagers, and a great summer night in one of Germany’s most beautiful small cities round out this perfect opening night.




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, where 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 26, 2024

Exploring Fränkische Schweiz

This is our big hike day. Heading south from Bamberg, we enter the scenic, wooded and hilly 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.

After a farm tour and liqueur tasting it’s a quick ride to the magnificent Klosterbrauerei Weissenohe, the world’s second oldest brewery! Here we’ll tap a special rare keg selected for our group before sitting down to a fairly epic and beer-heavy casual meal, or “brozeit.”. 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 more local breweries before finishing with a bang at Thuisbrunner Elchbräu, 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.



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 and “craziest” 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 they can do 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 28, 2024

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, multiple 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 short train journey back to Bamberg.


MONDAY JULY 29, 2024

The Secret Capital Of Beer

In the morning we depart our Bamberg hotel for the last time, making the trip to Kulmbach, where we’ll set up for a couple of days. Although the town will be in the middle of its busiest week of the year, we’ll get a guided tour of the brewing museum at the historic and dramatically-situated Mönchshof Brauerei. The massive importance of the small city of Kulmbach to the German brewing scene, both historical and current, makes this particular museum a unique experience. After the tour and a tasting of museum-brewed lager we’ll walk to the placid biergarten at the 600-year-old Mönchshof Bräuhaus, 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

Today guests have a tough choice to make in the morning: an exclusive, immersive tour and lunch at Kulmbach’s famed and massive IREKS maltery, or a colorful guided tour through the region’s most imposing and impressive landmark, the Plassenburg Castle? At IREKS geekier guests will get a very rare glimpse of the inner workings of the plant that provides base and specialty malts for the Kulmbacher Brauerei and beyond. More beered-out sightseers may instead opt to scale the small mountain looming over the town of Kulmbach for an inside look at Franconia’s largest and best-preserved fortress, and its impressive military artifacts collection.

Whatever is chosen, in the early afternoon there will be time 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. 




**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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