The Swabian town of Ehingen promotes “beer culture” among its attractions. It is a pretty little town on the banks of the Danube River southeast of Stuttgart. Ehingen is in the German state of Baden Wurttemberg near the border with Bavaria. I had just spent the last several days hiking on the Albsteig long distance route near Bad Urach and Albstadt.
I have recently written articles about a traditional volkmarch event in Bavaria and about volksmarching in the USA, so it was on my radar to experience a year-round volksmarch event during my visit to Germany this past summer. Entering the square in Ehingen the first thing I saw was a statue of a jester-looking guy holding up four fingers. I figured that these were either for the four breweries located along the volksmarch route or for the only four ingredients in German beer (water, yeast, malted grain, and hops) … maybe both.
Ehingen, a town of about 25,000 people has a proud beer culture and history and is still home to four breweries: the Gasthof Brauerei Schwanen (founded 1864), Berg Brauerei (founded 1466), Brauerei Gasthof zum Rössle (founded 1663), and the Brauerei Gasthof Schwert (founded 1675).
Three IVV-sanctioned volksmarch routes start and finish in the town center at “Gasthof zum Ochsen”, a popular restaurant and beer garden. The overlapping routes cover distances of 5, 10, and 15 kilometers in length. A free route guide is available at the visitor center on the town square and at Gasthof zum Ochsen. The route takes you around
many interesting historical buildings in the town center, numerous beer gardens, and the four breweries that remain in operation here. You also pass through some pretty parks and open space affording scenic views. At one point there is a great scenic overview of the Danube River. In 2011, this route was recognized as one of Germany’s most beautiful trails in Wander Magazine, one of the countries most prominent hiking publications.
Forty-eight varieties of beer are brewed in the four breweries and I did my best to enjoy as many as I could. Three of the breweries are very small operations while the Berg Brewery supplies beer throughout the region. My most memorable visit was to the Rossle Brewery. The brewery’s small pub was up a flight of stairs and I entered to encounter a scattering of patrons at every table. No proprietor or server was to be seen. I approached the first table I came to and asked one of the guys sitting there if they minded if I joined them. He welcomed me to have a seat. A server finally showed and gave me a startled look as I ordered up a Dunkel. I finally figured out that I had taken a seat at the “Stammtisch” or regular’s table and that the server was worried that I would soon be in the way. Sure enough, old guys started arriving and taking their place at the long table and it started filling up. Animated conversations ensued. The other patrons seemed less concerned than the server about my presence, and I had pleasant conversation with a couple of guys who could speak a bit of English. I managed to finish my beer and get back out on the walk before whomever’s seat I had warmed up showed.
One of many historic buildings along the route:
Brauerei Gasthof zum Rössle (since 1663) ….