Friday 18th December 2015
I think Freiburg is probably the only major German city that I have not previously visited over the years. Now, having been there I wonder why it took so long. It is a beautiful place and has considerable beer interest. The city is sometimes been confused with Freiberg in Sachsen (Saxony) or Fribourg in Switzerland. To make it completely clear it is on the edge of Schwarzwald (Black Forest) and is in the greater flood plain of the River Rhein and thus, the border with France. It is not far north of Basel, Switzerland.
It was a sunny warm day when I alighted from the Inter-City Express and caught a tram into the compact city centre. After around twenty minutes of the train’s arrival I was ensconced in the convivial surroundings of the tap of the Ganter brewery in its stunning location across the square from the cathedral.
The weather had drastically changed and it was now raining. There was a waitress outside frantically gathering all of the menus off the many tables outside the pub that had been laid out in anticipation of some al-fresco dining.
None of those sort of problems inside, though. I settled at a tall table with stools that was attached to the bar counter. Looking around I could see this was a pub that looked very small yet also historic. There was lots of dark polished wall panelling and furniture. Even the ceiling was made of varnished wood.
Above the bar counter there were two rows of hanging ceramic krugs awaiting their turn to be filled with beer. There was a cosy little area around to the right of the bar counter where, I suspect you could be taken away in time to another age; it’s very atmospheric.
On my way in I noticed the wood-fired stove. Yet this example didn’t look as quite as ancient as what you would normally expect. It resembled a cross between an armless Dalek and a very large international football, please see photograph. It was very strange.
It appears that the right side of the building was a different premises to that I was drinking in. There is a lot more space on the first floor, up the stairs. I didn’t venture in this direction as the photographs that I have seen of it showed it to be more modern than the rest of the pub.
Although the tap room is very traditional, the look is a deception as the pub was not yet fifteen years old at the time of my visit.
The history of Ganter starts on 28th August 1865 when Ludwig “Louis” Ganter established a brewery in the city centre, very close to this pub. It was the premises previously used by the Brauerei Ringwald, and was housed in the former residence of the humanist Erasmus of Rotterdam who had lived there between 1531 and 1535. In 1877 he moved his production to the present location just outside of the city walls.
In 1906 son Hermann Ganter took over the running of the brewery. He had studied at the famous brewing university of Weihenstephan, near Munich. He had also been in the USA studying modern methods. Sometime earlier, the brewery had become a limited company and he set about purchasing shares to make it a family business again.
Following the First World War armistice the brewery lost a large part of its distribution territory as on the other side of the Rheine, the German State of Elsass became the province Alsace of France. This badly affected the company and that was followed by the Great Depression. The brewery was badly bombed on the night of 2nd December 1944. It was then unable to produce beer but fulfilled an important function in the aftermath, as its wells were unaffected and they supplied the people of Freiburg with clean water.
Naturally there was complete rebuild after the war and the brewery has continuously modernised over the succeeding years. These days it produces over 250,000 hl per annum and supplies over a 1,000 outlets. On 23rd March 2002 they opened this city centre outlet on Münsterplatz (Cathedral Square). It is a quite deliberate attempt to create the atmosphere of days past.
It was established in what I can only presume to have been a pub in the past as it was called "Haus zum Roten Eber", the House of the Red Boar.
A very good reason to visit this pub is to sample a larger range of Ganter beers than what might be available in other pubs. The choice was Pils (4.9%), Badisch Weizen (Wheat) (5.4%), Urtrunk (a Zwickl beer) (4.5%) and a winter seasonal dark doppelbock: Wodan (7.5%).
There is a good regional menu and as Freiburg has many attractions to justify a visit, you should come and visit this lovely pub.
Ganter Brauereiausshank, Münsterplatz 18-20, 79098 Freiburg (Breisgau). Tel: 0761 34367
Hours: Monday-Sunday: 10.00-24.00
The pub is easily reached from the main railway station.
Tram routes 1, 2, 4 and 5 leave from a stop on the bridge over the south end of the station.
You go to the Bertolds-Brunnen which is in the middle of the city. This is a big junction and the tram routes split and go in three different directions. Each route has its own stop here.
So, from whichever stop you arrive at, walk east along Salzstrasse. First turning on the right is Dreherstrasse. Walk along here, cross next junction to Eisenstrasse, then turn into Münsterplatz.
You will see the pub on the right with the cathedral on the left.
Freibourg railway station is well served by local trains (RE and RB). There is also an hourly Inter-City Express (ICE) train going north alternately to Berlin via Frankfurt or Hamburg via Frankfurt Airport and Cologne. In the southerly direction these trains go to Basel in Switzerland and normally go forward to cities in Switzerland such as Interlaken via Bern.