Friday 24th February 2017
I was in the Nürnberg area of Germany for a reason totally unconnected with beer drinking. However, that is not to mean that beer was not to be drunk, as after all this is Bavaria! I had flown out from the UK one day earlier than I needed to. This was because I had consulted the calendar of Zoigl pub openings on: zoiglbier.de/zoigltermine/windischeschenbach/. I then realised that I could go to three Zoigl outlets in Windischeschenbach and neighbouring Neustadt that I had not previously visited.
So on this particular Friday I left Nürnberg station on the 09.43 Regional Express train to Weiden, where I changed to a local train to Windischeschenbach, arriving at 11.15. It’s about a kilometre from the station to the market square, the area where most of the Zoigl pubs are to be found. I realised on the way that I was walking very slowly and was suffering a lot of cramp, this happens a lot these days.
However, I made it to Binner Zoigl. Briefly I should mention the Zoigl concept. It is where private houses in a particular town open occasionally to sell beer to the public.
The beer is brewed at the Kommunbrauerei (Commune Brewery) and then cooled overnight in a cool ship, a large shallow open vessel. It is non-alcoholic wort at this stage.
The following day it is taken by the brewer in a little road tanker towed by a car or tractor to the house where it is to be sold. It is pumped to another tank in the cellar of the premises. The new owner of the “beer” then adds yeast and hops to the wort to their own recipe and it undergoes a primary fermentation. After rough filtering the beer undergoes a secondary fermentation of several weeks.
Only certain houses are allowed to serve the beer, this is determined by the property and not the owner. As a result of the ever-increasing popularity of Zoigl beer, you now have the situation where properties are purchased for their right to sell beer. There is one case where nobody actually lives in the property any longer as it is a pub in its entirety, even though it only opens for a weekend every five weeks or so.
Thankfully that is not the case here as Binner has been selling Zoigl beer for a long time on a continuous basis. It certainly goes back before the last war. Other Zoigl houses have existed earlier but Binner has this continuity that the others lack. The name Zoigl is a corruption of the word zeigen or zeichen, the local dialectic name for a sign.
The sign refers to the six-pointed star that is hung from the building to denote that it is selling beer. This is identical to the Star of David of the Jewish religion. A truly interesting fact is that, as this house sold beer throughout the war, it was not permitted to display the traditional sign. So a variation is used here. I noticed it when I photographed it before going in (see photo right), but paid no more attention. What a fascinating story.
After recording the sign I went up the small courtyard that is used as a biergarten in the summer and turned left into the main building.
Inside, on the left of the entrance door, is a smallish room which I guess is an overflow from the main room. I then entered the main room which was around half-full at midday. I took a seat at roughly half way along the room.
To my right was the front of the pub. There was is a continuous wooden bench seat all around the outside walls. This abruptly finishes when it reaches a traditional wood-fired, green-tiled stove (a Kachelofen) which was located almost opposite my seat. To my immediate left is the beer service counter and beyond the second part of the room, again with a long wooden seat around three sides.
On the wall was a nice six-pointed star adorned with eight brass barrel taps. There was also a cabinet pendulum clock. The loose furniture is wooden with cushions on the bench seat and fitted on the chairs. The pub has a very homely atmosphere. I had consumed a couple of half litres of their excellent beer but now wanted to move on to the “next-door” village of Neuhaus, but there was a problem.
Neuhaus is atop a very steep hill. If I was going to walk I would have to go about half way to the station and then left up a very steep hill on the winding road or by hundreds of steps. Because of the time it took me to get here, I decided to ask if there was a taxi available. I was advised that the taxi man was driving the school bus at that time. He might be available later but didn’t want to drive in the dark! Not actually a problem in this case.
I was quite dejected about this but then a knight in shining armour appeared in the form of guv’ner of the pub who said that he had to take his car for petrol in about a half an hour and would drive me up there at the same time, fantastic! I think this was Robert Sperber, the owner of the pub. So I ordered another half-litre and soon it was time to go.
This house is highly recommended. The beer is excellent and they also have their own distillery, installed in 2001. They make many different styles of schnapps from fruit and herbs so, should you be inclined, you can have a “Schnortl”* with your beer. There is a menu available which features many local favourites.
* Schnortl: an entirely fictitious word that describes shots of Schnapps and other German distillates that are consumed in 0.2 cl and 0.4 cl bottles and by the 0.2 cl glass.
Binner Zoigl, Kleiau 3 92670 Windischeschenbach. Tel: 09681 3170
Hours: Friday-Monday: 10.00-23.00. Only when advertised to open.
Buses to Windischeschenbach are infrequent and usually run only Mondays to Fridays.
The station is served by trains of Vogtlandbahn Railway Company and they operate about every hour, Monday to Friday and two-hourly on Saturday and Sunday.
They run from Regensburg to Marktredwitz via Schwandorf and Weiden.
From the station turn right up the hill along Bahnhofstrasse, go past the Würth Brewery.
At the cross roads continue in the same direction along Hauptstrasse.
In the market square turn right at the Hotel Oberpfalzer Hof. You will soon see Binner on the left.