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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Regensburg to Deggendorf

We were all woken up about 6am with a giant clap of thunder and pouring rain. Problems today, I thought. Yes, but not in the way I figured.

The storm blew quickly past and probably kept the morning a bit cooler but it also made everything damp and muggy.

We me good time out of Regensburg and shortly after noon we were in Straubing, home to two breweries, Röhrl and Karmelieten. Röhrl was not far off our path so we stopped in.

Röhrl Weizen and Helles
 The place reeked of cigarette smoke -- more than could be accounted for by what built up in the upholstery before the smoking ban, but it was cool and dark. The beer was OK -- though after having wheat beers that were banana laden, Tim thought this one could use a bit more banana. The helles had a little something in the finish, but not enough to stop me from ordering a second.
Röhrl Dunkel and Pils
They had no food whatsoever, so we decided to find a place to eat, hopefully with the town's other brewery. After riding around a bit, we ended up stopping at the Bayerischer Löwe, which served Acro Bräu from Moos (which doesn't seem to be anywhere near here, but we saw lots of outlets in the area).

Beer garden at Bayerishe Löwe

Service was slow, but we didn't care -- we were trying to wait out the hotest part of the day. They beers were fine, but it was getting so hot that I really sort of lost interest in the beer. That tells you how hot it was.

Acro Bräu Helles and Pils

It turns out I made a slight math error in my route "cheat sheets" and instead of 81km it was actually 88km from city center to city center. Oops.

The afternoon dragged on and on. We stopped frequently for shade and water and once, some ice cream. At our last rest stop they had a thermometer and it read 35 deg C (= 95 deg F). This was in the shade at 5:15pm.

To make matters worse, this was the most borring stretch of the whole ride. It is the "Danube Bike Trail" but we rarely saw the river. It was basically riding thru fields of corn, wheat and barley with very few trees (means no shade) -- we could have been in Iowa or Kansas for most of the time.

The hotel is a bit on the outskirts of town. They only had Paulaner beers, so we had a light dinner and called it an early night.

Tomorrow we ride to Passau, where we'll have a rest day. Should be a short ride (60km) but it will be hot again and the others want to check my math.

Distance ridden: 92km
Total distance: 1363 km

Friday, June 29, 2012

Amberg to Regensburg

This was supposed to be an easy day, a nice quiet ride down the Vils and Naab rivers, some hills but a generally down hill ride. Mother Nature disagreed.

It was a clear day and the sun was blazingly hot. In the morning we had stretches thru the forest and so it was a bit cooler but by noon we were mostly on open ground. We made frequent stops for liquids, which often did not involve beer.

The first beer stop was in Schmidtmühlen, were we had a Naabecker Helles. It was nothing special but did hit the spot.

Naabecker Helles

When we got to Kallmünz it was past time for lunch, so we stopped at Brauerei Zum Goldenen Löwen for lunch and beer.  I had heard great things about this brewery from friends whose judgement I trust but we must have caught them on a bad day. The helles (which was quite dark) tasted like homebrew with a sanitation problem. The dunkles had a similar flavor, not quite so far advanced and somewhat covered by the dark malts. The Weizen was actually quite nice. The food was good.

Zum Goldenen Löwen Dunkel, Weizen and Helles (yes, Helles)

As the day got hotter, we stopped more often but most places had Thurn & Taxis or Paulaner (which owns and brews the Thurn & Taxis brands).

We finally arrived in Regensburg and rode by the Spital brewery and we decided to stop at their riverside garden for a refresher. It turns out they had a Maibock on draft as well, and even though it was hot we couldn't pass that up.

Sptial Maibock and Helles
The Maibock was tasty but (and I know many think I see this about most German beers) it could use some more hops. It tasted like a bigger version of the Helles and increased bitterness would have balanced it out.

The garden at Spital is quite nice

Spital Garden
After checking in at the hotel and re-humanizing ourselves, we headed over to Kneitinger Keller for dinner and beer. Since it was still quite warm, we headed for the keller instead of the brewery hoping it would be cooler.

Entrance to Kneitinger Keller
 They had their two usual beers, a beer which is called a Pils on the menu but isn't really and everybody just calls it "Helles" and a nice dark beer. The picture below is the first of many sampled.

Kneitinger Helles and Dunkles
 The keller is fairly large and quite well shaded with a playground. Of course, compared to the Munich beer gardens it is relatively small.

Kneitinger Keller
Tomorrow we ride to Deggendorf, roughly half way to Passau. Weather looks to be hot as well.

Distance Ridden: 76 km
Total Distance 1271 km

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Nürnberg to Amberg

We left Nürnberg expected the hottest, hilliest and hardest day of the ride. We were not disappointed.

This first picture is of interest only to me, but I thought I'd share. Four years ago I rode the Five Rivers Train with my father (we are following that from Nürnberg -> Amberg ->; Regensburg). I had the route plotted on one of the mapping sites and was following along use Google Satellite maps. Low and behold, they came a place were it look like we went thru somebody's driveway -- thru an arch and next to some buildings.

Well, my father and I ended up reversing the route and as ended up approaching Nürnberg from a different direction and missed the arch. But today we rode thru it.

It was quite nice as we left Nürnberg, riding thru the woods next to the Pegnitz river. Soon we got  out into the open and it got warmer. We decided to stop in Lauf for some (non-alcoholic in this case) re-hydration. They had a nice town square.

Lauf an der Pegnitz main square

We continued on (and up) to Hersbruck but along the way we got a little lost and separated. I made it to Hersbruck first and was supposed to pick a prominent place to meet. Well they have a pretty big biergarten right in the middle of the town square.

Since Hersbruck is famous for hops, I had to try the local beer. Not bad, but very, ordinary -- and no special hop character.

Hersbrucker Kellerbier
It look like the steep climes start just after Hartmannshof so we decided to stop there for lunch. The village looked pretty sleepy and the only thing we found open was a cafe at the new train station (the Nürnberg S-Bahn line has been extended this far). They were serving Augustiner from Munich, of all things. So we had lunch and a beer.

Augustiner Hell in Hartmannshof.
 We all ordered a "Bauernomelet" ("Farmer's Omelet") with is usually an omelet made with whatever is leftover from yesterday: ham, potatoes, sausage, etc. That is what ours looked like but instead of potatoes they used sliced (and fried) kloss. The other two promptly "de-kloss-ified" their omelets. I ate mine. The waitress was worried we didn't like the food and I assured her it was fine, they just didn't like kloss. She said they usually use potatoes but only had kloss today.

The next 20 km where very hard. The temp must have been over 90 deg F and we had some steep up hills. Finally, after Neukirchen there was one long one were we reached an elevation of 480m (having started out at about 310m in Nürnberg). There was a faded sign that said (I think) this was the division between the Rhine and Danube watersheds. So the continental divide!

After that some nice downhill runs and then up hill to Sulzbach-Rosenberg, which is built on a hill. Coming up to the town square we passed the Fuchsbeck brewery and decided we earned a beer.

Fuchsbech Lager

I have to say I think I enjoyed this beer the most of any so far on the trip.  A few more ups and downs and we were out of town on the last leg to Amberg when Tom got a flat on his rear tire. He has a internally geared hub which made getting the rear tire off a pain. But we finally got everything replaces and made the 12km to Amberg at a very gentle pace.

Amberg has 5 or 6 breweries (depending on if you count an occasional part time ("hobby") breweries. Three were close by our hotel (or had tap rooms close) and that was all the energy we had left.

First was Winkler

They had three beers, a Pils, a Helles and a darkish Zoigl. The Zoigl had a weird aftertaste and about half of it ended up watering the plants. The Pils was nice at the start but not as nice as it warmed up. The Helles was a good at the end as at the start and was judged the winner.

Helles, Zoigl, Pils at Winkler
 A couple blocks away was Schiessl. They had a big screen TV in the biergarten (with lots of sad faces as Germany was losing to Italy) but the inside was empty (and out of earshot of the soccer match).

Schiessl Gastwirt
They also had three beers, Helles, Hopfen (a sort of pils) and a Zoigl.

Again the Zoigl had a strange flavor but not as strong as the Winkler. The Helles and Hopfen were judged equally good.

We decided to skip the third brewery, Schloderer, as it is basically a brewpub and four years ago, at least, the beers were not too interesting.

Tomorrow: Regensburg on another hot day but hopefully not so many hills.

Distance ridded: 86km
Total Distance: 1195km

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Bamberg to Nürnberg

It is always hard to leave Bamberg. But at least we were going to visit some breweries on the way south.

We took west bank of the Regnitz as our initial route. Not the most direct but you get to travel on the Pettstadt ferry. This is a ferry across a bit of the Regnitz that locals claim has been in existence in one form or another since the 1400's. The current edition dates from 1956. What is unusual is that it is power solely by the river, with an occasional application of muscle by the ferryman.

Pettstadt Ferry

We then crossed over the canal itself and we soon passing Hirschaid. There is a lovely brewery here, Brauerei Kraus, but we didn't really have time to stop (plus it was still early).

A bit later we turned off the canal bike path and headed inland to Buttenheim, home to St Georgen Bräu and Löwenbräu Buttenheim. The breweries are right next to each other. We could smell one of the brewing and when we pulled up to Löwenbräu we knew it was St Georgen: There was a big "Betriebsurlaub" (basically, "Gone Fishin'") sign on Löwenbräu. There was some activity inside, so I ducked in and asked if the keller was open. It was.

So we heading a bit out of town to the Löwenbräu keller and had our morning "sharpener."

Löwenbräu kellerbier
 Tim thought it only fair we have a St Georgen, so we rode back to town (a few hundred yards) to St, Georgen.

St Georgen Bräu
 Tom decided to try the Helles. It wasn't as good as the keller bier. Tim had tried the kellerbier in an Italian restaurant in Bamberg and was disappointed the one at the brewery wasn't as good. Go figure.

St Geogren Helles and Kellerbier

We got back on the road and headed for Forchheim. We were no longer on the canal so it was a bit hilly and we picked up a head wind. Not a fun ride. When we finally made, we were ready for beer and lunch. There are three breweries in the old town but one is closed on Wednesday, so that left us with Brauerei Neder and Brauerei Hebendanz -- which are conveniently practically next door to each other (a fourth brewery, Grief, used to have a tap room here as well but it has closed).

We started with Neder. Much to my surprise, they had no food. So Tim went to a butcher and  got some sandwiches while we ordered a beer.

Brauerei Neder, Forchheim

After eating, a man came up and asked if we could move our bikes so he could park his truck and unload. So we moved them 100 ft down the road to Hebendanz.

Brauerei Hebendanz
 We got beers, but either something in the combination or something in the beer was off and we ended up using most to water a nearby tree. Not a good sign.

The rest of the trip was basically uninteresting, except for that strong head wind. At some point near Erlangen we met up with a friend (Nick) who showed us the secret way into Nürnburg without riding on busy streets. We saw the possibility on our map, but what we didn't know was at some point you ride underneath the canal -- it is supported by what looks like a huge bridge. And in order to get underneath you have to ride into the village of Flexdorf for a ways. But we made it and were soon on our want into Nürnberg.

After checking in to the hotel, we headed for Schanzenbräu, the relatively new (2005) brewery in Nürnberg. We had a nice dinner and the beers were on the upper side of brewpub type beers we've   had this trip. I forgot my camera so no pictures.

Distance Ridden 76km
Total Distance: 1109km

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Rest Day (or two) in Bamberg

We walked around, we drank beer. 'Nuff said.

If you want pictures, got and click on the Bamberg tag. It won't be pictures of this visit, but they would be pretty much the same.

Riding resumes Wednesday.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Wipfeld to Bamberg

Sunday marked our tenth day of riding without a rest. Yes, we had had two "half days" in there but they ended up being a bit stressful for other reasons, so not much rest.

We left Wipfeld and headed north along the Main towards Schweinfurt. There was some sort of water sports festival along the river and they were already selling Brauhaus Schweinfurt beer (the other brewery in Schweinfurt) but at 10:00am it was a bit early, considering all the breweries we'd pass that day. We did stop for a coffee at a nice new Youth Hostel along the Main.

We passed thru Hassfurt -- a nice Eiscafe that I'd visited two years ago but no brewery and soon arrived in Zeil am Main, home to Brauerei Göller.
Brauerei Göller
Göller does quite a selection of beers and many of the wheat beers that smaller breweries in the area serve as their own are actually brewed by Göller. They also do a lot of contract bottling, especially of "swing top" or bügelverschloss (a/k/a "Grolsch bottles) as these require specialized, expensive equipment.

The biergarten was packed as would be expected on a sunny Sunday afternoon. We had a nice lunch and Rauchbier and Kellerbier each.

Göller Kellerbier (take my word for it)
Setting off again after a while we came to Stettfeld, the last village before you cross from Unterfranken to Oberfranken. It is home of Brauerei Schwarzer Alder and produces one of my favorite beers in the area. So we stopped for a couple. Patrick, a friend from Bamberg rode out to meet us for a beer and then rode back in to Bamberg with us.
Adler Pils
There were a number of routes we could take, with a choice of brewery stops but we decided for the southern bank of the Main with a stop in Bischberg at Brauerei zur Sonne.
Brauerei zur Sonne, Bischberg
They had a Zwickel and Hell on tap and we ended up having one of each. They are similar beers, with the Zwickel being a bit cloudy and a bit more bitterness. Both were delecious.
Zwickel (rear) and Hell
We headed into Bamberg, passing the end of the navigitable portion of the Main and the start of the Main-Donau canal (the Regnitz river). A bit of a milestone.

We also saw, tied up at the port a catamaran from the Virgin Islands named Angel Louise. We had seen this ship all along the Main is we rode up. Like seeing an old friend.
And old friend...
We are staying at Brauerei Fässla but they close at noon on Sundays so they left the keys for us across the street at Brauerei Spezial. After retreiving the keys we thought it only polite to have a beer as a thank you. It had started to sprinkle and the only outside tables were in the rain. The waitress at first refused to serve us but relented and said we could have just one. So we sat in the fine drizzle (much lighter than we've ridden thru) and enjoyed our Spezial Lagerbier.

After been made fit for civilization (as much as is possible) we met back at Spezial for dinner.

Tomorrow we walk -- yes walk -- around Bamberg and drink some local beers.

Distance Ridden 77km
Total Distance: 1033km

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Würzburg to Wipfeld

Good weather again today, but maybe a bit warm. We headed south from Würzburg and would our way thru the vineyards along the Main.

The Residence at Würzburg
We planned to stop for coffee in near Ochsenfurt but even though it was Saturday morning, we had a hard time finding a place open. Finally found a chain bakery near a gas station.

Lunch was in Scharzbach and the first few places had Würzburger Hofbräu signs so we continued on. Saw a little place with a Weiss-Rössl sign and we stopped. I recognized the name as brewery near Bamberg but forgot they were sold to Kaiser of Neuhaus early in the 2000's. So the beer we got was Veldensteiner (a brand name of Kaiser). Oh well.

Veldensteiner (Kaiser) Pils

Past Schwarzach the Main makes a big loop but there was an alternate path following the canal channel. We decided to try that but turned to early and instead followed an overland path that was quite hilly. It cut off about 6km so maybe it was worth it.

We soon arrived at the ferry across from Wipfeld, just as the ferry was docking. Perfect timing.

The Wipfeld Ferry
After checking in we went to the beer garden of the hotel, were they were serving Krautheimer beers from the nearby Brauerei Düll. After a couple we decided to wander across the street to the Anker Stube as the dinner menu in our place (Zehntgraf) was a bit limited.

Krautheimer Lager

The Anker Stube had beers from Roth in Schweinfurt. They had Pils and Hell on draft and a quite nice Schwarzbier in the bottle. Many were consumed.

Distance ridden: 76km
Total distance: 956km

Friday, June 22, 2012

Marktheidenfeld to Würzburg

As the crow flies, Marktheidenfeld to Würzburg is a fairly short trip. Or if you were willing to walk over a mountain. But if you follow the Main river it is about 80km as the river flows north and makes a big bend at Gemünden and then flows south again.

View from hotel balcony
The weather was partly cloudy and a bit nippy -- good riding weather. We got started on time (9:15 or so) and headed north. Things went smoothly. We stopped for coffee and pastry at a village bakery and we aimed to have lunch in Karlstadt.

Passing thru Karlstadt we didn't see anything interesting, so we continued to Himmelstadt where you'll find Biergarten "Down Town." This is a vaguely western (US) themed place right on the bike path. I had stopped there two years ago when Tom and my Dad rode along the Main (we traveled in the opposite direction).
Biergarten Down Town

The beer was Würzburger Hofbräu, which is owned by Kulmbacher (which is controlled by Heineken). They had a Pils and Weizen on draft.

Würzburger Hofbräu Pils
The Pils is fairly ordinary, not up to the standards of the past few days. Still better than Bitburger, though.

We pushed on to Würzburg were we soon found our hotel, after fighting our way thru a crowd setting up benches and a big projection screen. Uh-oh, more Euro Cup soccer.

After becoming fit for human society again (a/k/a shower and clean-ish clothes) Tom and I wandered around, looking for someplace with an interesting beer.
Old Church
In the Ratskeller (pub in the town hall) in addition Würzburger Hofbräu they had Distelhäuser Pils, so we had one of those. Distalhaus is in Tauber Franken, a region that is currently in the state of Baden-Würtemburg but is historically (and culturally) Franconian. So the beer should be decent.

Distelhäuser Pils

It was. Actually it was quite nice.

Since Würzburg is the center of the Franconian wine region (Frankenwein) it was not surprising that they had a extensive wine list. But they also surved many wines in .1l (10 cl) portions -- just right for a tasting. We decided to come back for dinner and, horror of horrors, do a wine tasting as well.

Flight of Franconia White Wines
I'll spare you all the gory details, but it was a quite pleasant evening. I had tasted a few Franconian wines over the years but not as many as we did and not together. I can recommend it if you are ever in Würzburg and are bored with the local beer.

Distance Ridden: 80km
Total Distance: 880km

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Klingenberg to Marktheidenfeld

The day started out threatening rain -- which was OK because it kept things sort of cool. And it never did rain so that is even better.

It was an uneventful day -- which is also good. As we road thru Miltenberg it was too early for the Brauhaus Faust tap room to be open, so we had to settle for staring longingly at the brewery.

We were riding mostly thru the Spessart "Natural Park" - which means mostly forest. Some nice scenic views.

By lunch we were in Wertheim, which is across the river from the Kreuzwertheim, home of Spessart Bräu.

Where we stopped they had a Dunkel and Pils on tap. Both were good, but not as good as the Faust the previous evening.

Just after three we arrived in Markheinfeld and stopped at a riverside cafe before checking in to our hotel.

Marktheidenfeld is home to Martinsbräu but there tap room is closed on Thursday. Not a problem, because the town is very loyal to its beer is available everywhere.

Martinsbräu Braustubla (closed Thursdays)


I like their logo....

Heading back to our hotel, we had a last dunkel on the terrance as the sun set (quite late on the longest day of the year)

Distance Ridden: 75km
Total Distance: 800km