I’m not quite sure when I first became aware of this festival, but for the last two years my plans to visit it have been thwarted by clashes with other events. The year before last the festival began just a few days following my return from a business trip to Japan; whilst last year’s event was too close to the European Beer Bloggers’ Conference to enable me to do both.
This year was looking similar, but with a gap of almost two weeks in between Fränkisches Bierfest and my return from the Czech Republic, I figured I could squeeze in a short visit to Nuremberg, without attracting too many adverse comments from the family. Actually, my son Matthew had originally planned to come with me, but due to a clash of holiday commitments at his work place, had to cry off, almost at the 11th hour. Undeterred, I finalised the arrangements and set off alone.
|In the shadow of the castle|
Annafest is probably the best known Franconian beer festival, and this outdoor event, held on a wooded hillside overlooking the town of Forchheim, has become increasingly popular with visitors from the UK. Two years ago my son and I had a great time there, and I know quite a few people from these shores who have done the same. Bamberg’s Sandkerwa, which takes place around the August Bank Holiday weekend, is another event which also attracts many native English speakers; although here the visitors are much more likely to come from across the Atlantic, than the British Isles.
The common theme which runs through all these German beer festivals is their emphasis on local beer. For example, the beers available at Oktoberfest are restricted to the products of Munich’s “Big Six” breweries, and then they confined largely to a single and rather strong “Festbier”, brewed specially for the occasion. Annafest offers “Festbier”, from Forchheim’s four breweries, plus a few from slightly further a field, whilst Sandkerwa is also largely restricted to the products of Bamberg’s breweries, although at least there are nine of them to choose from.
|The calm before the storm|
This year’s Fränkisches Bierfest ran from Wednesday 3rd to Sunday 7th June, and apart from some thunder, in the early hours of Sunday morning, was blessed with wall-to-wall sunshine. In the end I only attended two sessions; the first being on Thursday evening, and the other on Friday afternoon, from just after opening at 2pm to some undetermined time in the early evening. Both sessions were packed, although the Friday afternoon one did start out nice and peaceful.
Some points to note: there were 38 breweries in total; all but one based in Franconia. Each brewery had its own stand, and virtually all offered between two and four different beers. There was plenty of seating (UK
|Starting to fill up|
I sampled beers from 11 of the 38 breweries exhibiting at the festival. These included various Hells, Vollbiers, Landbiers, Kellerbiers, plus the odd Dunkles and Pils. All were good; with some served direct from wooden casks, although most were served from pressurised kegs. There was a great party atmosphere, and whilst most festival goers were within the 20-30 year age bracket, there was still a good sprinkling of people from other age groups. What was particularly pleasing was the number of female visitors, and I would estimate that women made up roughly 35-40% of the attendees.
|Festival in full swing|