The hike to the highest brewery in Germany began on a crisp morning in the hamlet of Oberstdorf, a picturesque village surrounded by alpine peaks. Famous for skiing in the winter and hiking in the summer there are dozens of lifts and gondolas on both sides of the valley used for both activities. Dozens of mountain gasthauses dot the slopes along the many hiking routes making the area a veritable paradise for beer hiking.
Oberstdorf is as far south as it gets for a town in Germany and the hike to the mountain hut, Enzianhutte begins several miles South of town. The house brewery at Enzianhutte is called Hausbrauerei Gipfelstürmer is not only the highest altitude brewery in Germany at 1804 m (5919 feet), it is undoubtedly the most southern. “Gipfelstürmer” means “summiteer” and the logo of the brewery features a whimsical mountain hiker. My research found only one higher altitude brewery in Europe at Rifugio Lavarella in the Dolomites of Italy (2042 m).
The hike begins near the furthest south bus stop at Alpe Eschbach, a rustic mountain gasthaus with a dairy barn taking up the back half. The only way to reach Enzianhutte is on foot and the route definitely builds a thirst climbing about 900 m (2950 feet) over 3.5 miles. Starting in a mountain valley the route immediately climbs into dense forest, crosses many mountain streams, and breaks through the tree line just below Enzianhutte. There are two mountain gasthauses along the way, Gasthof Einödsbach, and Petersalpe, which provide great spots for rest and refreshments.
Operating since 2012, the Enzianhutte mini-brewery produces dark and light wheat beers, an alcohol-free wheat beer, as well as an unfiltered Zwickel. These are served on a sweeping terrace overlooking a mountain pasture with big views. It is a busy place as it is a waypoint for deeper multi-day hikes in the alps. I ordered lunch and a Zwickel to provide sustenance for the hike back down the mountain. The small brewery is located in the lifthouse for the tram that brings supplies up to Enzianhutte. This is the only place to get their beers and the only way to get here is up-elevation on foot. In my estimation, this improved the enjoyment of the beer considerably.
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Hiking to the Highest Brewery
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Silly trivia: Oberstdorf was the site of the “agony of defeat” ski jumping fail used in the intro to ABC’s Wide World of Sports in the 1970’s — in case you don’t remember that