“The good people at Shelton Brothers have been traveling to Franconia for two decades, so visiting this beer mecca with them offers unparalleled access to the very best — and often little-known — beers of the region. Throw in the opportunity to hang out with the brewers themselves, while touring the breweries or dining in local beer gardens, and this trip is simply not to be missed.”

– Greg Engert (Neighborhood Restaurant Group)


Breweries of the Wunderberg

Wednesday July 25

Our tour proper will begin in the evening, but those arriving in Bamberg on the early side will want to join us at 1 p.m. for a guided tour through the renowned Malzfabrik Weyermann, the most famous purveyor of brewing grain in the world.

We will then have a few hours free before meeting at the hotel, where taxis will take us to the street called  Wunderberg (“Beautiful Mountain”), and  Mahrsbräu. Here we’ll dine with the 4th generation owner at the historic brewery tavern.  After enjoying a complimentary traditional Franconian  meal, including  three half-liters of draft beer, there will be an opportunity to visit the lesser-known but charming Keesmann pilsner brewery right across the street.

  Dinner included


Founded in 1879 by a grain trader,  Malzfabrik Weyermann is today the world’s most famous producer of specialty beer malts.

A landmark of Bamberg, its historic production buildings were declared industrial monuments in 1973. Weyermann’s trademark red-lettered, barley-laden sacks are a familiar site at breweries around the globe.


Located on the site of a 1600s brewery inn, Bamberg’s Mahrsbräu has been in the hands of the Michel family since 1895. Today current owner Stephan Michel oversees production of Mahr’s’ award-winning lagers as well as management of one of the world’s finest, most traditional restaurant-biergartens.


Butcher-turned-brewer Georg Keesmann founded his family brewery in 1867. Located in the same district–and street– as the more famous Mahrsbräu, Keesmann is distinguished by its focus on pilsner production, as well as its characterful early 19th century inn, today recognized as a Bamberg architectural monument.


KELLER Serenity, Spelunking, and Spectacle

Thursday July 26

Bamberg’s old town has been named a UNESCO Heritage Site, and early risers are invited to a 10 a.m. compact walking tour of its main attractions with staff member Carl Crafts.

At noon we’ll meet our bus at the hotel and head to the Franconian countryside, stopping at one of our favorite spots, Buttenheim’s Löwenbräukeller, for lunch.  Afterwards, led by a local guide, we’ll enter and explore a literal “keller” — a tunnel dug into a hillside for storing lagerbier in pre-refrigeration days. And in the evening we’ll experience the ultimate in keller raucousness — Annafest, an annual local-centric folk celebration featuring  rides, games, bands, and thousands of liters of beer, all centered around twenty four small-brewery kellers in a fantastic, woodsy mountainside setting.

  Breakfast included


Located just outside, and enjoying a lovely view of, the tiny but significant brewing town of Buttenheim, the Löwenbräu Keller has been one of the area’s most beloved destinations for centuries. Originally named the Hermitage, today this “pleasure grove” is the favored outlet for the local Lion brewery, one of many by that name in Bavaria. The postcard-perfect, living example of a classic keller, it also features a very traditional Franconian restaurant.


Commemorating St Anna’s Day, and based on a pilgrimage dating to 1516, this popular folk fest has been since 1840 held every July in Forchheim’s Kellerwald (“Cellar Woods”).  Several small, local breweries pour special beer, some directly from the  original mountainside beer cellars. A fun, frenetic mix of old & new Franconian culture, Annafest draws up to 500,000 guests each year.


Innkeepers, Farmers, Artisans, And Monks

Friday July 27

We’ll meet the bus at 11:30 a.m. to start our second day in the local brewery-rich rolling hills & pastures, visiting some of our very favorite Franconian institutions, each representing one of four different historical beer purveying traditions: A tiny roadside village “gasthaus-brauerei” (tavern brewery/restaurant); a rural semi-industrial house brewery catering primarily to local farmers; a typical vertically-designed 19th century revived production brewery, and finally, an ancient monastic brewery, established by monks in 1050 and today family-owned. Here, at the picturesque Klosterbrauerei Weissenohe, we will be welcomed for an exclusive dinner featuring special barrels for the table.

  Breakfast included


At first glance a typical village inn, the Gasthof Bayer’s house brewery offers world-class everyday & seasonal “craft” lagers, while its Slo-Food recognized restaurant Zum Grünen Baum (“The Green Tree”) serves up some of the most creative Bavarian cuisine in Franconia.


Set in the tiny farming village of Mönchsambach, Brauerei Zehendner humbly goes about its business of brewing some of the most superb lager in the world, while focusing its attention & sales on customers within a 20-kilometer radius.  The mini-industrial brewhouse can be viewed from the flowery biergarten, while the family matriarch can often be seen hovering outside the kitchen tapping the rapidly-emptying 20L kegs.


In 2011, Franconian journeyman master-brewer Andreas “Andy” Gänstaller purchased the defunct 19th-century Friedel brewhouse in the tiny farmhouse village of Schnaid, and set about creating highly original, sometimes hybrid takes on Bavarian & foreign styles. His brewing methods are uber-traditional, including rare triple decoction mashing techniques and the use of an even-rarer antique copper coolship.


While the southern Bavarians Weihenstephaner proudly advertise their world’s-oldest (since 1040) brewery status, the modest Winkler family, who today oversee production at Weissenohe, have to settle for second-best — brewing began on these grounds as recently as 1050. Urban Winkler is a proud traditionalist, his recipes & techniques representing a commitment to those passed down through many generations of family & monastic brewers.


Bicycling is a fine way to explore Franconia, and trails naturally lead towards breweries.  While they are not included in the itinerary this year, if there is sufficient interest we may coordinate optional cycling excursions.  These trips would diverge from the current itinerary.  Let us know at the time of booking if you are interested.

Please note that optional excursions are not included in the tour price and may require additional charges, and participation is at the traveler’s own risk.


Lagerbier With A Mountain View

Saturday July 28

Today we’ll enjoy a more relaxed, weekend pace. Our bus will depart at 11 a.m. and take the unbeaten path to some of the most beautiful, serene spots in the world for contemplating the wonders of nature and beer.

For eons, Bavarians have sought summertime repose at remote woodland kellers, whose caves kept beer cool & in good condition. Though refrigeration long ago eliminated that need, the tradition continues today, and the settings are always pastoral, often magnificent. We’ll introduce you to a couple of our favorites, taking in (weather permitting!) the wonderful afternoon summer sun, and sunset, of Franconia.

Returning to Bamberg after dark, we’ll cap off the evening, and our stay in the city, with a trek to the one of its very own cozy biergarten refuges high above the old town.

  Breakfast included


The marvelous lagerbier from the tiny, 650 hectoliter per year Müller brewery in the village of Reundorf can be enjoyed at just one place — its own rustic Schmausenkeller (“Feast, or Banquet Cellar”).  Here beer is ordered & dispensed in the original keller hut, and if you’re lucky the locals will let you in on a round of outdoor bowling. With its very own maypole and beautiful views of the Ebrach valley, this is one of the best places to relax and contemplate moving to Franconia.


For the ultimate secluded mountainside keller experience, the Senftenberger Felsenkeller has few rivals.  Located a short hike from the brewing village of Buttenheim, this elevated forest retreat and ancient pilgrimage destination features a lofty view of the surrounding countryside, typical Franconian eats, and typically excellent local beer.


Perched high on the Stephansberg, one of the many hills overlooking the old city of Bamberg, the Wilde Rose is the city’s largest, most picturesque and popular outdoor beer-drinking establishment. The largely local crowd chooses from a range of Bamberger beers, served in ceramic steins & enjoyed in a classic wooded biergarten setting.


The Five Stein Hike

Sunday July 29

After four nights of gorging on the finest German beer & food, we will attempt to walk some of it off. Starting at Weissenohe, we’ll embark on a 7.7 mile hike through the pastoral Franconian countryside. Of course, here, unlike anywhere else in the world, breweries are literally everywhere, and we’ll encounter no fewer than five of them on the trail! Eventually the path leads ups to the lovely, peaceful Hotel Schlossberg, with its welcoming sauna & solarium. Those who prefer a full, restorative day at the Schlossberg can be dropped there in lieu of the hike.

  Breakfast included


The “Five Half-Liters of Beer Trail” (featuring Klosterbrauerei Weissenohe/Brauerei Friedmann/Brauerei Hoffmann/Thuisbrunner Eichbräu/Lindenbräu) takes thirsty hikers through nearly 8 miles of beautiful woodlands, pastures, and, most importantly, small-brewery biergartens. World-class craft brewers are found, it seems, in every other village in this part of the world, and the concentration is delightfully heavy in this particular little  corner of Franconia.


The Secret Capital of Beer

Monday July 30

We’ll make the short drive to Kulmbach in the morning, and at noon take an exclusive guided tour of the Bavarian Brewery Museum, where we’ll discover why the town is known as the world’s “Secret Capital of Beer.” Post-tour in the hotel there will be a range of high-quality lederhosen & dirndls offered for sale to those wanting to totally immerse themselves in the festive Kulmbacher Bierwoche (Kulmbacher Beer Week):  This annual 9-day bacchanalia, in full swing during our visit, is the third largest of its kind in Germany, and a more locals-oriented version of Oktoberfest. We’ll grab our VIP reserved tables in the big tent at 4 p.m.

  Breakfast included

  Dinner – Our guests will receive a voucher, good for 2 liters of beer or soft drinks, and 10 Euros’ worth of food at Bierwoche.


The small city of Kulmbach is synonymous with beer, and the oldest European brewing vessel was unearthed here. Naturally then the locals are particularly keen on presenting the history of malted barley, starting with its ancient middle-eastern origins but focusing on Kulmbach’s original and continued place in that story. A special guided tour brings it all to life.


Offering everything from dirndls, to lederhosen, to all the accessories, the Bavarian Superstore is the go-to purveyor of traditional Bavaria-wear in Kulmbach. From basic, no-frills classics to more detailed, designer duds, nothing gets the visitor to Kulmbacher Bierwoche more in the mood for “trinken und knee-schlappen” than some always-flattering, authentic local ‘trachten” (garb!).


Celebrating its 69th year, Kulmbacher Beer Week is the third largest festival of its kind in Germany, and by far the least touristy. During a raucous nine-day summer blowout, many thousands of dirndl & lederhosen-clad Franconians dance, sing, clink liter glasses, stomp on benches, and drink oceans of festbier — while not falling down. A true view of Teutonic culture for the uninitiated and the highlight of any beer fan’s visit to Franconia.


Brewmasters’ Kettles & Witches’ Cauldrons

Tuesday July 31

Having witnessed the more riotous effects of the local products the night before, we’ll now get a rare inside look at the source of the mayhem, with an exclusive guided tour of Kulmbacher Brauerei as led by a master brewer. Post-tour, for those needing to pick up some last-chance souvenir bottles, there will be a visit to a large Bavarian beer/wine/liquor specialty shop. Our more ambitious travelers will also have the opportunity to visit the massive Plassenburg castle overlooking the town

That evening, we’ll be highly entertained for a second night in the Bierwoche tent by the Isertaler Hexen (known as “Die Hexen,” or “The Witches”), a legendary all-female band that puts on a raucous & sexy show.

Dinner – Our guests will receive a voucher, good for 2 liters of beer or soft drinks and 10 Euros’ worth of food at Bierwoche.


Kulmbach, Germany’s “Secret Capital of Beer,” has a 650-year-old history of commercial brewing, and a couple thousand years of practice. By the mid-20th century there were several separate breweries in the town despite a population of only a few thousand, and these — Kapuziner, EKU, Mönchshof, and Kulmbacher Reichelbräu — eventually merged under the Kulmbacher banner. Unlike with other such mergers, however, the four identities remain intact, and the ca 2,000,000 hectoliter facility offers over 30 different beers to both local & international devotees.


“The Witches of Isertal” are Germany’s most popular all-female party band. Founded over 40 years ago by sole remaining original member Ulla (trumpet), “Die Hexen” have long been the most beloved act at Kulmbacher Bierwoche. Germany’s unique beer festival musical groups always offer a foot-stomping mix of pop/rock with wacky touches of oompah, but the Witches have that extra edge — sexy ladies in lederhosen. This will be their last appearance at Bierwoche, as the band will sadly call it quits at the end of this year.


There’s Wine, & There’s Apfelwein

Wednesday August 1

By now we’ve had more than enough of beer, and our final tour day calls for a wine detox. Leaving Franconia’s barley/hop land behind, we’ll head west, through serious grape country. Here are found the best German wines you’ve never heard of, and we’ll visit a small family winery for a tasting & tour in a tiny, half-timbered village. In the evening we’ll stay in the old, quaint Frankfurt neighborhood of Sachsenhausen, where are found many famous, traditional apple wine taverns.  We’ll have a complimentary farewell dinner, including two glasses of house apfelwein, at one of our favorites.

  Dinner included


Arguably the most authentic Frankfurt apfelwein (cider) is made & poured at Zu Den Drei Steubern. Still & bone-dry, this fairly challenging version of the local specialty is fermented in the establishment’s backroom and poured straight from a giant ceramic vessel mounted at the bar. The current maker/owner has been overseeing the entire operation since 1954.


In 1850, a local gardener named Schneider decided to offer his homemade apfelwein for sale. Lacking a shop, he cleared out his living room, and converted it to a tavern. This Old Frankfurt institution has been pouring apfelwein at the same location ever since, and today visitors can enjoy their wine & classic local cusine inside the historical restaurant as well as the cosy outdoor garden in front.


Auf Wiedersehen

Thursday August 2

The tour having come to a close, this morning we bid farewell to our guests, whether they plan to extend their vacation or return to the States. The hotel is conveniently located near public transport to the airport and main railways stations, and taxis are easily arranged as well. Additionally, Shelton Brothers tour staff will be available throughout the morning hours for any guests needing assistance.

For those considering an extension of their trip beyond the tour dates, be advised that Frankfurt is a major air & rail center for Germany and the rest of Europe, and a hub for air travel anywhere in the world.

Shelton Brothers Tours scenes

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