Monday 14th April 2014
There is something very pleasant about spending the night in a hotel that has a brewery in its back yard. And that feeling was very prevalent on this particular evening. The local station is around a kilometre away from the pub, which is located in the main street of this hilltop town. When I got off the train it was pouring with rain. It was far too heavy to contemplate walking, so I had no alternative but to wait for some transport and sure enough, after ten minutes or so a taxi arrived.
After checking in, I made the 400 metre walk to the town’s other brewery, Fuchsbeck; the rain had eased. Please see a separate article on this pub. However, I was back at Sperber around an hour later for some tasting of their beers. Re-entering the pub I noticed that to the right of the front door was the area for casual drinking and settled there. The other side of the room was the restaurant and was already laid out for breakfast.
The building has many windows and between them is wood panelling which is fitted with numerous coat hangers. The tops of the panelling and the window shelves are decorated with old bottles along with other brewery artefacts.
Above the wood are a large number of old photographs. Every table had a vase of fresh tulips. There is what looks like a bar but it isn’t, as the waitresses all walk from the side of it to the tables and there is no way to stand in front of it.
The story of the brewery begins in 1792 when Johann Sperber married Barbara Stobel of Kirchenreinbach who operated a farm within the estate of the castle there. Their son Christoph was known to be brewing beer on that site. In 1863 his son Georg was born and in 1868 father Christoph moved to Sulzbach-Rosenberg and began brewing on one of the two Kommunbrauerei, the Hinter Brauhausgesellschaft. This is the further commune brew house. “Further” indicating it was the more distant of the two from the town centre.
The son Georg married Babette Kurz and on her death he inherited a property in Hafnersgraben which became the brewery’s administrative offices, and still is today. In 1920 a change of brewery was made and they commenced brewing at the Vorderen Brauhausgesellschaft; the near brew house. At this time Sperber was a stand-alone brewery that sold beer to pubs but did not own one of its own.
The property at Rosenberger Strasse 14 that I just have described was built as the Brauerei Ringer in 1778.
In 1928 when owner Johann Ringer was returning from a festival in his motor-cycle he was killed in an accident. His widow continued running the business for a few more years but was unable to continue. In 1936 it was offered at auction and was purchased by the Sperber family.
Two further generations later the business is run by Christian and Hermine Sperber with their children and spouses. To go back in time a little, they ceased brewing at the Vorderen Brauhaus in 1960 and in the following year Fuchsbeck also stopped brewing there. With no more customers the brewery closed. Fuchsbeck built a brewery at their pub and Sperber rebuilt and reactivated the old Ringer brewery, closed in the 1930s.
When the current management team took over in 1996 they commenced a complete renovation of the pub and hotel which was completed in 1997. In 1999 they received an award for the quality of the work undertaken.
Incidentally the family’s name translates as “Hawk”, hence the bird on the logo at the top of the page. That brings us up to the present day; so what about the beer?
This brewery produces a great variety of beers, mostly for the bottle for which they have designed a number of very attractive labels. Firstly I’ll start with the bottom-fermented beers:
Helles Vollbier (5.1%). This is the standard light beer.
Zoigl-Bier (5.2%), an unfiltered beer in the Zoigl style.
Knorr-von-Rosenroth Zoigl (5.2%). This is an unfiltered Dunkel (dark) Zoigl bier. Is this a new style?
Classic Lager (5.2%), a malty beer in the South German style.
Rosenburg Pils (5.1%). Unusually this is in the Bohemian style.
Then there are three Fest beers that are brewed for different times of year but all appear to be made to the same recipe. They are Frühlings-Festbier for Easter; Annaberg-Festbier for the St Anna Fest in July and Weihnachts-Festbier for Christmas; they are all 5.7%.
There is also a selection of top-fermented offerings, all wheat beers as follows:
Graf-Gebhard-Weissbier (5.8%), their standard wheat.
Steiger Schwarze Weissbier (5.9%), a black version.
Leichte Weisse (3.8%), a low alcohol example.
Herzog-Christian-August Weisse (7.2%), a wheat bock.
I’m sure that all of these were available in bottled form in the pub but there were only three draught beers on tap and they were: Helles Vollbier, a dunkel (dark) that must have been Knorr-von-Rosenroth Zoigl, it could be nothing else.
Finally there was Graf-Gebhard-Weissbier for the wheat beer fans. I don’t fall into that category so I started with the Dunkel and finished with the Vollbier.
I liked them both but for slightly differing reasons; the dark had the right fresh malty taste but also possessed a good medium finish. I thought the Vollbier was well balanced and not as sweet as some from Southern Germany, especially from the Munich area.
This is a beautiful pub and the hotel is 3* and I had a good night’s sleep. Highly recommended!
Sperber-Bräu, Rosenberger Strasse 14, 92237 Sulzbach-Rosenberg
Tel: 049 (0) 9661 8709 0
Open: Monday to Sunday 06.00-01.00
Sulzbach-Rosenberg is on the Nürnberg to Schwandorf railway line that continues to Fürth im Wald which is the German border station to the Czech Republic on the line which goes on to Plzeň (Pilsen) and Prague.
Schwandorf has connections to the city of Regensburg and northwards to Hof.
The trains are normally hourly on all days of the week. Please be wary if you are coming from Nürnberg as they often leave that city in three portions to different destinations combined in the same train. It is essential that you ensure you are in the correct part of the train, to quote a phrase.
This pub is about 20 minutes walk from Sulzbach-Rosenberg railway station, mostly uphill.
There is a local bus network serving villages in the area and nearby beery town Amberg.