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Pub Visit - Germany

Hallerndorf (Kreuzberg), Bayern (Bavaria):
Brauhaus am Kreuzberg

Kreuzberg1Sunday 23rd October 2016

Bob Thompson

Before beginning I feel I must make a comment on the location of this brew-pub. Administratively it is part of the small town of Hallerndorf. However, it is nearer to the village of Schnaid. It is not a community in itself, simply a church and three biergartens on the top of a hill. I saw no residences here.

Kreuzberg2Making my way from Schnaid was easy as I had the church steeple in my sight all the way. It was downhill to start with and then relatively gently up to the church, steepening a bit at end. In fact this is the only side of the hill with open countryside, the other three are forests. Once past the church there is a large car park and the three bierkellers just over the summit, with the woods behind.

The other two bierkellers are operated by the Brauerei Rittmayer and the Brauerei Lieberth, both from Hallerndorf. There was once a fourth, confusingly run by Rittmayer of Willersdorf, another nearby village. They ceased brewing some time ago. However, now they sell a beer called “Hausbier” in their pub which is brewed by Lieberth of Hallerndorf, whilst the other beers on their menu are clearly stated as being from Rittmayer of Hallerndorf. I must investigate.

The church, which is technically a chapel, was constructed by Count von Seckendorf in 1463 on this hill at a location that was already a place of pilgrimage. It has a Baroque interior which is said to be very beautiful. The one bierkeller have I have not mentioned thus far is that of Brauerei Friedel of Schnaid. The brewery was established in 1461 so even pre-dates the chapel.

Kreuzberg3I visited the brewery and the adjacent Gasthof on the 5th November 2007 and thoroughly enjoyed some Zwicklbier (4.9%) which was their sole beer, apart from a bottled wheat beer. Zwickl is an old style also known as Kellerbier that is naturally cloudy and is served in ceramic “krugs”. As I sat in the pub savouring that beer, little did I know that there was a massive change on the way. They brewed about 1,000 hl per annum at that time. Please see a 2016 photograph (above left) of the brewery building which still displays its original name.

Kreuzberg4At that time Heinrich Friedel and his daughter Luitgard brewed the beer. She married a distiller, Norbert Winkelmann. The 300 year old bierkeller on the hill was the site of a new venture. The site was cleared and the small dispense and bar-room were demolished and a new large building erected. This contained a brewery and a distillery along with large kitchens. On this day I walked from the old brewery to the new, a distance of 1.7 km. I don’t walk well so this was a big achievement. Please see photograph of Schnaid village as seen on from the road up to Kreutzberg (above).

It soon displaced the old brewery in the village which heavily relied on the summer biergarten for its existence. The Brauhaus am Kreutzberg quickly became very popular, as it was when I visited at the end of the season.

Kreuzberg5The range of beers available these days is very extensive and they are always bringing new offerings to the table, including some cross-overs that use whisky malts and the like.

There were eight varieties on draught when I called in: Zwicklbier (old Franconian style) (4.9%); Edelhopf (pils) (4.9%); Schlotfegerla (dark) (4.9%); Pilgertrunk (lower alcohol beer made with seven different malts); Roggenbier (2.4%) (low-alcohol beer using rye malt); Weizen (4.9%) (wheat beer); Dampfbier (5.2%) (another old style made with wheat beer yeast and rustic hops) and Zoiglbier (5.2%) (a replication of the Zoigl style as brewed in the Kommune brew houses of Oberpfalz).

I had the Zwicklbier and thought it was fine but it is too long ago to assess whether it was as good as the original. They say it is, yet there have been too many beers under the bridge to remember exactly what it was like back then.

Kreuzberg6There were also bottled Bock beers matured in spirit casks. Such as: Whisky Bock (9.5%); Cognac Bock (11.5%); Sherry Bock (12.5%); Sommliator (9.5%) (made of four malts and old style hops); Barley Wine (10.6%) (English style) and Cherry Dream (made with fresh local fruit only in the season).

The list of spirits offered is almost endless. There 3 types of whisky as well as a gin and a rum. Also, 6 different types of fruit brandy matured in wooden casks; 9 different grain-based schnapps; 11 brandies made with stone fruits. And that’s not all as there were 11 brandies made with apples, pears, quince and the like. No less than 23 berry brandies, 15 schnapps made of fruit and honey and a further 15 made of berries, 5 special brandies (including potato and also mango!) and finally 9 made with nuts. What a list!

There is still a sizeable biergarten surrounding the pub which was about a quarter full. I entered on the right side of the building; the space further to the right accommodates the kitchen. As befits nearly every bierkeller it is self-service, including the food which is ordered from a separate area just inside the way in. This bar room of medium size and at the back is the highly-polished brewery itself.

Kreuzberg7The brewery was built by the well-known company of Kaspar Schulz in their factory at Bamberg. The only spare space I could find was right in front of it. Up a few stairs to the left of the building is another, slightly larger room, which was full up. There is floor above but, as I was settled I didn’t investigate. Also directly in front of the brewery is the salad bar. The food and drink offered was displayed on blackboards above the serving areas.

So what has happened to the old brewery in Schnaid? Well, it was moribund for a while then in 2011 it was taken on by Andreas Gänstaller to brew beers under the Brauerei Gänstaller name. He operates the Brauerei Drei Kronen in Strassgiech, near to Schesslitz, said to have been in existence for over 700 years. I believe this pub has a small brewery in house but the former Friedel brewery was acquired to supply it and to produce bottled beers. I’m not sure if the Friedel Gasthof in Schnaid is still open, I should have checked.

The old copper and mash tun have been retained along with the cool ship. However new cylindrical fermentation and lagering vessels have been installed. Brauerei Gänstaller is a very progressive company and is heavily into franchising using its Drei Kronen 1308 brand name. So far they have franchised the name to four breweries in China and one in Ellingen, south of Nürnberg.

Kreuzberg8I’m not sure what to make of the Brauhaus am Kreutzberg. I liked the beer but the frenetic activity was very distracting. Especially after walking through the quiet pleasant agricultural countryside to get there. The last thing I wanted to meet was a lot of kids running around and people shouting at each other to be heard above the din inside. I should have sat in the garden! However, it is worth going there as it is not the only bierkeller at Kreutzberg and you are unlikely to find their beers anywhere else.

Important Information:

Brauhaus am Kreuzberg, Kreutzberg 1, 91352 Hallerndorf-Schnaid. Tel: 09545 4736

Hours (2016): To 24th October: Monday-Sunday: 11.00-22.00.
From 4th November Friday-Sunday: 11.00-22.00 only.
I don’t know if this is exceptional or not but in 2016 its last opening day was Sunday 19th December.
It did not re-open until Friday 10th March 2017.
Maybe this is exception because of building work or maybe it happens every year. You must check.

Bus 265 is from Forchheim ZOB (Zentral Omnibus Bahnhof-Central Bus Station) next to the railway station. Monday to Friday it is approximately hourly until 20.00. Saturday it runs hourly to 19.00.
On Sunday there are five journeys every two hours from approximately 10.00 to 18.00.

At the end of its route it does a circle through the villages in an anti-clockwise direction.
Schnaid is the first stop after Hallerndorf. From the stop walk back in the direction the bus has come from.
Go out of the village and take the first right turn. By now you will see your destination on top of the hill.
Continue to the valley bottom and turn left and then right. You are now on the climb up the hill.
At the top pass the chapel on your right, cross the car park and all three bierkellers should now be in view.