Regensburg, Bayern (Bavaria):
Monday 14th April 2014
This brewery, as its name suggests, is inextricably connected to the church. The Bischofshof, in English “Bishop’s Court”, has history dating back to the 8th century, with even earlier connections. The court itself, best mentioned as the Bishop’s Residence, has been on the present site since then.
To explain the history of the brewery it is necessary to summarise the history of the cathedral. The first example was built in the year 700. It was moved by St Boniface, the patron saint of Germany, to its present location in 739. This was on the site of the Porta Praetoria, the north gate of the former Roman fort. It was of course, built of wood and got badly damaged by fires in 1156 and 1172. Its rebuilding in stone began in 1273 and lasted through to 1520.
The structure was built in the Bavarian gothic style but that was to change between 1828 and 1841 when a renovation altered the exterior to the baroque style.
It seems strange now that the towers and spires were not constructed until the period 1859 to 1869. These are such an iconic image on the Regensburg skyline that it is a revelation that they were built so late and in the neo-gothic style, changing the appearance yet again.
All through this time the Bishop’s residence was in existence and gradually increased in size. I think it was probably a monastery also, judging by its size. The earliest record of a modern brewery on site was in 1560 and it seems that it provided only for the clergy, yet it is most likely that brewing occurred before then. The church began selling beer to the public in 1649. Whether it was out the door or in a restaurant is not known.
To go back a lot further in time there is evidence of brewing on the site from Roman times. Their fort on the banks of the Danube was established here by Emperor Marcus Aurelius in 179 AD.
During excavations at the Bischofshof archaeologists discovered an entire brewery dating back to those years. It has a well, a room for storing and drying grain, a tank for soaking the grain for it to germinate, and a pit for a fire to heat the wort up to boiling.
The church lost the Bischofshof in 1810 during the secularisation of Bavaria during the Napoleonic Wars. They didn’t regain control until 1852 when they opened a restaurant and sold beer to taverns in the city. I believe this is the time that it became a stand alone organisation, separate from the Catholic Church.
For a very long time I thought this was the official brewery tap, although it once was. It is now a very up-market restaurant and hotel with 59 rooms, owned by the brewery.
Although it is possible to go in just for a beer, the atmosphere is not very conductive for it.
Possibly the best time is in the warmer months when they operate a biergarten in the square between it and the cathedral. It is now referred to as Bischofshof am Dom.
The real brewery tap was created in 1910 when the brewing operation was moved from the city centre to a leafy suburb outside of the city walls. After visiting Brauerei Kneitinger that day I walked to the Bischofshof Braustuben; there’s not a very suitable bus service. It took longer than I envisaged, however. Because of this I had worked up a considerable thirst.
The Braustuben is a handsome building that I presume was constructed at the same time as the brewery that is to found behind it. I visited at a very quiet time in the afternoon and apart from a pair of ladies I was the only customer.
There is a large main room which was obviously several once upon a time. It is very traditional with above head height wood panelling with old drinking vessels displayed on shelves atop. It appeared spotless with cloths on every table with fresh flowers on each.
This pub is also a hotel and I think it would be a nice place to stay. Anyway, on to the beer. There were four on offer as follows: Hefe-Weissbier Hell (5.1%) (wheat); Pils (4.7%); Zoigl (5.1%) and Original 1649 (5.1%). I had the Pils, which I thought was excellent, nice and dry. I also tried the Zoigl which was a good representation of that style from Oberpfalz.
The menu is traditional German with some regional specialities. I enjoyed my visit here and thought it well worth the walk from the city centre.
Bischofshof Braustuben, Dechbettener Strasse 50, 93049 Regensburg. Tel: 0941 21473
Open: Monday-Sunday 07.00-24.00
As mentioned above there is no bus route that passes the pub and brewery. However the walk can be cut down a bit by catching a 1 or 4 bus from the centre and alighting at the Goethestrasse stop. From there walk along Heitzer Strasse and you will find the pub on the right at the junction with Dechbettener Strasse.
It is around 30 minutes walk from the station.
Regensburg is served by many trains of different sorts from all over Germany.
It is an important junction on the Frankfurt/Nürnberg to Vienna (Austria) main line where it intersects the Munich to Prague/Dresden route.