Much has changed since those bygone days when, in Switzerland, the word beer was synonymous with Feldschlösschen, the popular beer produced by the country's biggest brewery. Switzerland now boasts 512 craft beer breweries. There is now more beer brewed in the canton of Bern than in any other, and its mere 6,000 square kilometres are home to 88 breweries. Seeland Bräu in Nidau on Lake Biel is but one of these.
Taking a river cruise to the Seeland Bräu brewery in Nidau is an especially romantic activity for a summer weekend. The boat chugs its way along the scenic banks of the Aare to the harbour at Biel, and from there the brewery is only a short walk away along the lakeside toward the south bank. Keen swimmers have the option of taking a dip in the lido.
There is more beer brewed in the canton of Bern than in any other
Located right behind it, on the no man's land of the former Expo site, is the pragmatic construction in front of which are many yellow umbrellas and where the brewery and the delightful Hostel Lago Lodge are housed. Although these two entities don't really belong together, in the eyes of the locals they are an established pair. They are also a perfect match for visitors, as once they have enjoyed a beer nightcap all they still have to do then is to stumble into bed.
After reaching the hostel, sit in the bistro and sample your first Seeland Bräu – of the 6 types available, the one with the honey is best for that summer thirst. Before heading out to explore the surrounds don't forget to check out the two rather impressive copper stills behind the counter. And if you have enough time, do visit the tank room and see the six fermentation tanks each holding 1,000 litres of beer and connected directly to the taps in the bistro.
It's well past time to visit the lake, so do take a walk back to the other side of the harbour as far as the "Strandboden", where the locals sit and lie on the wide grassy area or play football and badminton. This is where the now legendary "Beachtown" is erected in midsummer – a chance to sink down onto a lounger, mojito in hand and feet in the sand while soaking up the relaxing Ibiza mood which only becomes more pronounced as the evening passes. And watch St. Peter's Island bathed in the light of the setting sun at the end of the lake. With a bit of luck, you'll even catch a glimpse of the beaver that is sometimes to be seen in the lake basin moving branches back and forth.
The next day, your route takes you in the other direction, to the southern shores of the lake. You soon pass by the boat harbour and the popular La Péniche restaurant. This establishment, with its filigree construction, large windows and spacious terraces is the perfect place to enjoy the simple cuisine while watching the comical manoeuvres being made by the amateur captains out on the water. From here you proceed along the shore to the lido at Nidau and further on to where bathing areas and beaches of all sizes tempt you to go for a swim in the refreshing water. There are no opening times here and no lifeguards to chase you out of the water either. You can play, grill your sausages and relax as you pass the time until the prospect of a final beer for the day draws you back to the Lago Lodge.