What makes German beer so good? The German Beer Purity Law, passed in 1516, stipulates that the only ingredients in German beer are malt, hops, yeast, and water. In Southwest Germany, the state of Baden-Württemberg has more than 180 breweries producing 1,500 diverse types of beer.
In 2016, the region’s cities and sites celebrate 500 years of the Purity Law with special exhibits and brewery tours.
In the Southwest, along with downing a good Pils, Porter or craft beer, you can also enjoy some of Germany’s best cuisine and most inviting scenery. The region’s restaurants collectively possess 78 Michelin stars. Baiersbronn in the Black Forest, population 14,500, lures foodies with noted dining rooms. Chef Harald Wohlfahrt’s Restaurant Schwarzwaldstube has three Michelin stars as does Chef Claus-Peter Lumpp’s Restaurant Bareiss. Chef Jörg Sackmann’s Restaurant Schlossberg has two Michelin stars.
You can work off your meals by hiking or mountain biking on trails in the Black Forest and the Swabian Mountains. The paths lead past glistening lakes, across meadows and through woods anchored by fairytales villages.
Located about 45 minutes from either Stuttgart or Frankfurt, Mannheim is a good place to start your beer trail. At the city’s Technomuseum, browse “Beer: The Art of Brewing and 500 Years of the German Purity Law” to discover the cultural history of beer in Germany and to learn about the process of mashing, boiling, fermenting and conditioning. Allow time to visit the city’s 250-year-old Schloss Mannheim, one of Germany’s largest Baroque palaces.
Germany’s second-largest beer celebration, the Cannstatter Volksfest, first took place in Stuttgart in 1818. Many regional breweries host tented beer gardens. This year’s festival takes place from Sept. 23 to Oct. 9. Car lovers should also visit the Mercedes-Benz and Porsche museums. Two great places of many in Stuttgart for food and beer: Brauereigaststätte Dinkelacker and Stuttgarter Hofbräu Brauerei.
Black Forest Highlands
Have a friend on a gluten–free diet? Then head to Offenburg’s Schnitzer brewery for its gluten-free beer.
The Rothaus Baden State Brewery AG, near Lake Schluchsee, was founded in 1791 as a monastery brewery. Now a large company, the Rothaus Brewery offers 90-minute brewery tours. Afterwards, some bottles to buy include the Rothaus Pils, the facility’s most popular beer, the Hefeweizen Zäpfle, a brew with wheat malt, or for friends eschewing alcohol, get the non-alcoholic Tannenzäpfle.
Near Swabia’s Lake Constance, the Tettnang region is known for its Tettnang hops, used by brew masters in many countries. Discover what makes the area’s hops special at the Hopfenmuseum. You can also ramble along the Hops Trail, a nearly 2.5-mile path past hop gardens and orchards.