For the majority of the group, this was their first visit to a town which boasts four breweries, but for Matthew and I it was second time around. We spent a week in this pleasant little town, back in July 2013, in order to experience Annafest; a beer festival of legendary proportions, but we also took the opportunity of visiting a few other places in the area as well.
takes place at the Kellerwald, a wooded hillside on the edge of Forchheim, where there are a series of natural rock cellars cut into the hillside. The cellars were originally constructed for the storage and maturation of beer, in the days before refrigeration. Today there are two dozen such “Kellers”, the majority of which are just open for Annafest, although a handful remain open all year.
As well as plenty of beer drinking there are other attractions such as fairground rides, various stalls, plus six stages which feature a wide range of different musical acts. With seating for about 30.000 people, the Kellerwald provides sufficient accommodation for the 450,000 – 500,000 visitors who come each year over the course of the festival.
Our tour leader had bought a group ticket for us all, so once we were all assembled we walked under the subway and boarded our train to Forchheim. The station has been enlarged since our last visit, with a couple of new platforms installed. This is because a new high-speed rail line has been built alongside the original tracks. This will enable high-speed trains to complete the journey between Munich and Berlin in under four hours.
Although it is a relatively short walk from the station, into the centre of Forchheim, we waited for a bus as one member of our group is partially disabled, as the result of a particularly nasty motor-bike accident, and finds walking both difficult and painful. Our rail tickets were valid on the bus, which is the beauty of public transport in this part of Germany.
Our bus dropped us close to Brauerei Eichhorn, which was our first port of call. Eichhorn is the smallest of Forchheim’s four breweries, and uses a squirrel as its emblem. This was my visit to their actual pub, as the place had been closed during Annafest. We sat inside, due to the onset of a thunderstorm, and had the place virtually to ourselves.
The landlady looked slightly bemused as all 13 of us filed in, but brought us our beer in a friendly and efficient manner. Vollbier Hells was the offering on tap, a pleasant enough dark golden lager, but spoilt by being rather gassy. One member of our party resorted to giving his beer a good stirring with a fork, in order to dispel some of the CO2!
The beer in Neder was much more to everyone’s liking; in fact some people thought it the best beer of the entire trip. Served direct from a cask, perched up on the bar, and dispensed into stoneware Krugs, Neder Kellerbier certainly took some beating, and I could quite happily have stayed for another mug.
Onward and upwards though, and just a couple of doors away was Brauerei Hebendanz. Like Eichhorn, this brew-pub had also been closed during Annafest. It was an old-fashioned looking place, and for some reason we sat out in the corridor to begin with, before moving into the front bar. We tried the Dunkles, but most of us found it rather disappointing; I couldn’t even find the beer listed on the Hebendanz website.
Because of its location, outside the town centre, we gave Brauerei Greiff, Forchheim’s fourth brew-pub, a miss. I’m pretty certain that the bus we caught into town earlier would have taken us there, had we not decided to alight at Brauerei Eichhorn, but no matter, as Matthew and I had consumed plenty of Greiff beer at Annafest five year’s previously.