Friday 20th February 2015
I must admit that I was only vaguely aware of this brewery. Although I am a devotee of the Zoigl beers in the Oberpfalz region in the north of Bavaria, I suppose I found it hard to comprehend that there was a similar operation in the south of the state. That was until fellow traveller Steve Beames mentioned that he intended to visit an unusual pub in Kaufbeuren.
The pub opened at 16.00 on the day we visited and initially we went to the wrong building, us not distinguishing the Communebrauerei from its beer outlet.
However this gave us the chance to record it photographically, see photo below. It dates from 1699 and is known as the Hochzeiter-Schlossen (the Bridegroom castle). One wall of it is almost entirely covered with ivy. It is to be found at Kappeneck 1.
Our small group of imbibers had come from three different directions and after meeting a couple of them at the railway station we headed off to find the tap of Aktienbrauerei in the middle of the old town of Kaufbeuren. Sadly it had been converted to a shopping court. However after looking around the town we did find another pub that sold the beers of this regional brewery.
Having realised our mistake with the location of the Zoigl pub, we then walked the 25 metres or so to it, see photo below. Arriving at 16.05 there was only one other guest inside; this was soon to change! I was with Steve and Russell and we were soon joined by Vaughan. The small room soon filled up with thirsty locals and we were continually shuffling up our table to accommodate new arrivals.
Although the establishment of the commune brewery goes back centuries this one is very new. It is the brainchild of Gernot Wildung, who was born in the town. I hope I have got this right, but I understand that when he was working in Franconia he became acquainted with the villages of Oberpfalz where commune breweries remained in existence. He thought that the concept could be transferred to Kaufbeuren and so here we are today!
The pub was established in 2002 and sold beers that Gernot brought down from the north. However the full dream was fulfilled when he opened the brewery in 2012.
I thought that as he was the owner of both the source and the outlet, then it wasn’t a true commune brewery, yet I was wrong as on certain brewing days he caters for those who wish to take the wort away and add hops and yeast to their own recipes.
I wondered why the brewery building had a fold-away Zoigl sign so I guess it’s displayed when public brewing is made.
Another aspect of this operation that is reminiscent of the traditional Zoigl pubs of Oberpfalz is that the pub is not open on a continuous basis, closing every second week. The brewery comes from the Braumeister Company and has a capacity of 200 litres per brew. Brewing is done once or twice a week and the beer is made by bottom fermentation. It is fermented at 10C.
The main beer naturally referred to as Zoigl is mid-brown with a smooth mild bitterness; there is not a lot of malt in the taste. I thought it was very similar to the beers that inspired it. I have seen it described as 4.3% abv but I think it may be a tad stronger than that. We were lucky when we visited as there was a second beer available and this was Heller Bock (6.5% abv). We purchased a half litre to share around and discovered that it was typical of the style being quite sweet with a smooth yet spicy finish.
After settling in we took a look at our surroundings. The room is quite small with the small serving area in one corner by a front window. It looked very traditional with various wooden shelves holding glasses for both the beer and also the spirits, with hooks on the ceiling suspending the ceramic krugs of the regulars. There were two beer taps, one of them disconcertingly displaying a Warsteiner badge. Luckily this turned to be a second hand fount.
The furniture is wooden with fixed benches around the walls and loose chairs fronting the tables on the outside. There are plenty of cushions for sensitive bums. The paintings on the walls depict rustic pub scenes.
There’s a chalk board sign that told us the beer we were enjoying was brewed on 17th January and was racked to the barrel on 25th January. It contained no gas whatsoever so I suspect it was served by gravity from above.
Rather surprisingly there was a quite a full menu at very reasonable prices. There appeared to be a lot of local specialities that involved pickling or smoking various sausages, hams, black pudding and other meats. I thought it was very interesting; pity I wasn’t that hungry.
A quote from the instigator Gernot Wildung is well worth bearing in mind and it translates as “If you do it right you can have a Zoigl house anywhere”. This has echoes of the Micropub explosion in the UK, so long may this attitude continue!
So, it’s a fascinating pub that is well worth a detour if you are in the area.
Kaufbeuren Zoigl, Ludwigstrasse 47, Kaufbeuren 87600. Tel: 0911 535482
Open: Please refer to: www.zoigl-kaufbeuren.de for dates and times.
Kaufbeuren station is on the railway line that runs from Munich and Augsburg to Lindau on Lake Constance. The trains are fairly frequent and are operated by both DB and Alex.