Ehingen may be small, but it calls itself the ‘Beer Culture City’. With five breweries, producing 53 different beers, that is no idle boast. But this historic community, 90 minutes southeast of Stuttgart, offers more: good shopping and food; the Groggensee lake and gardens. And Ehingen is right on the Donauradweg, the Danube Bike Trail.
Stroll through the handsome old Lower and Upper Town; admire the massive brick and half-timbered Heilig-Geist-Spital, the hospital founded in 1340 to care for the sick and now the town museum. On the market square, take selfies at the modern fountain with its whimsical figures: a jester with a trumpet; a boy with a hose; a frog prince blowing out water.
Across the Danube stands the Berg Brauerei, the Berg Brewery. Some 550 years old and run by the ninth generation of the same family, they still use local barley, malt, hops and water for their eight bottom-fermented beers and five seasonal brews. Taste them in the cheerful, modern tavern. Their three-day Ulrichsfest, marking St Ulrich’s Day, features a parade, concerts, medieval market, food and, of course, beer! The other breweries in town are the Schwanen Brewery, the Brauerei Schwert and the Brauerei zum Rössle. Each has its own devotees; sample some and decide for yourself!
The tourist office in the town hall provides information on e-bike tours and the Bierwanderweg, the 14-km/9-mile Beer Hiking Trail. This links the three central breweries and historic buildings to the scenic Danube Valley, finishing at the Berg Brewery.
Ehingen at a glance
- Where: 90 minutes southeast of Stuttgart; on the Danube Cycle Path
- Population: 26,500
- Climate: Long sunny summers
- Landmarks: Four breweries; beer trail; charming Lower and Upper Town
- Weekly market: Tuesdays and Saturdays, 7 am to 1 pm
As well as breweries, Ehingen has the world’s first beer hotel: the BierKulturHotel Schwanen. Built into the old city walls, the rooms are comfortable, with stylish furniture made from old beer barrels and beer racks. Across the street, the Schwanen brew-restaurant has been brewing beer since 1697. Order the tasting menu; each course pairs beer-based dishes with a different beer.
Work up a thirst!
As well as the special Beer Hiking Trail, the tourist office has maps for the 7-km/5-mile circular BurgFelsenPfad, a route featuring castles and great views over the Danube Valley. Or, rent a bike and pedal part of the famous, long-distance Danube Bike Trail.
Relaxing inns; sophisticated chefs
In Ehingen, the family-run Hotel Restaurant Adler is known for its Bierkulturbike, a brew bike built for groups to pedal around town, tasting as they go. Award-winning chef Andreas Steudle runs Steudle's Genusswelt (28 Lindenstrasse), a café bar, where they roast their own coffees, distil their own spirits and serve dishes featuring local produce. Down on the Danube Cycle Path and handy for cyclists is the Gasthof Knupfer, Dettingen. To the west of town, inns with award-winning chefs include Köhlers Krone in Dächingen and the Landgasthof Adler in Altsteusslingen.
View from the top
Climb 80 stone steps to the top of the Wolferturm tower, all of 30 m/100 ft tall. Clamber through a tiny door and you get an oh-wow panorama. On a clear day, you can see the Zugzpitze, Germany’s highest mountain and even as far as the Säntis peak in Switzerland.
Ehingen celebrates Fasnet, the German version of Mardi Gras, with traditional masked revelry. Think demons, witches, jesters and the devil himself. The highlight is Fasnet-Tuesday with its long parade. Later in the year are the Jazz Festival (October) and an authentic Christmas Market (November/December).