Memmelsdorf, Bayern (Bavaria):
Brauerei Gasthof Drei Kronen
Thursday 16th May 2013
I was here in the company of the friendly members of the Brewery History Society and we were little late arriving. We were met by Hans-Ludwig Straub, the owner of the "Three Crowns" hotel, restaurant, pub and brewery and made our apologies. He told us his grandfather had taken over the company in 1936 and one of the first things he explained was that the name of the tavern was ecclesiastical rather than regal, as it is a reference to the three kings (wise men) of the nativity story. This is appropriate as the pub is right opposite the beautiful village church.
Before I recount the details of our visit to the brewery, can I please mention a little history of the Drei Kronen? It is first mentioned in 1457 and was once used as a courthouse. As a tavern it must have been quite successful because the aesthetically pleasing building of today was erected in 1748 and has continued catering for locals and visitors ever since. It was extensively modernised in the 1980 and 1990s and appears to be highly recommended as a place to stay.
Hans-Ludwig took us to the brewery and told us it was completely rebuilt in 2004 by Kaspar Schulz, the well-known Bamberg brewery manufacturers. However, although the process is only partially automated, the method is still staunchly traditional. Hans-Ludwig said they didn't have the capital for a high-tech brewery so went low-tech instead. The Society members were pleased to see that this was another brewery that used a cool ship to lower the wort temperature after brewing. There was actually a brew going on so we didn't linger too long, as we had to vacate the brew house so that his assistant Charlie could get on with the job.
He explained that yeasts had to be stored in different tanks to separate the bottom-fermenting variety well away from the top-fermenting version. The first fermentation is done in an open vessel then primary fermentation is done in two closed vessels named Hans and Kathi. He said that it was important to distinguish between the two, so names were adopted to prevent confusion. The brewery's production is around 400hl per annum.
We thought that the old turreted building at the rear of the current brew house was the old brew house. Hans-Ludwig soon put us right on that point, as he informed us that it was an ice tower. Constructed in 1880 to a castellated gothic-type style, it was where ice, cut from the pond behind the premises, was stored for the purpose of keeping the fermenting beer cool and also for summer refrigeration. It is now a protected monument on the register of the Bavarian Free State and was last used in 1963, after which new heat exchanging equipment was installed.
There are three regular beers are: Stöffla (5.0%) an unfiltered smoked beer that is made with Rauch and Karamel malt with Spalter Select and Merkur hops; Lagerbier (5.0%), also unfiltered, uses Pilsner, Münchner and Karamel malt with the same hops and finally, Kellerpils (5.0%), unfiltered as before, uses Pilsner and Light Karamel malt with the usual Spalter hops. There is one beer that is not served in the brewery and that is Eckert's which is brewed here for the popular restaurant and pub of the same name in Bamberg. It is thought it is in the style of a Landbier.
There are a number of seasonal specials and the year is started with either Caspar (black), Melchior (brown) or Balthasar (light). There are three different beers but only one of these "three kings" is offered per year. I guess these are various types of bock beer. For lent there is Fastenbier and this is followed, from the end of April, with Dinkelweisse, a wheat beer that was on the menu when we visited. I guess this stays for the summer.
Another beer is Kirchweihbier, which is brewed for the Memmelsdorf Kerwa, the local church festival in mid August. mid September sees FrAlt, and alt beer in the Franconian style and the last of the seasonal beers is Böckla, a heller (light) bock which is brewed for consumption in November.
Following our tour we retired to the biergarten. This is basically a terrace under awnings, in the courtyard.
We tried several of the beers and had lunch. Whilst we were waiting for the food I took a look around the pub and it is certainly well presented. There are five rooms, including an indoor part of the terrace at the rear. The other rooms can only be described as sumptuous. One is done out in light coloured wood, the others in dark, with panelling rising above head height. The room that contains the bar also has a traditional kacheloven, the green-tiled stove found in this part of the world.
Finally, we bid farewell to Hans-Ludwig, thanking him for a great tour. The Drei Kronen is more than just a pub, as it is known for its cuisine and there are 27 letting rooms in this 3* hotel. All that makes it well worth the 20 minute bus journey from Bamberg.
Brauerei Gasthof Drei Kronen, Hauptstrasse 19, Memmingen. 96117. Tel: 0951 944330
Open: Monday 17.00-23.00; Tuesday to Saturday 07.00-23.00; Sunday 08.00-15.00
Kitchen: Monday 17.30-21.30; Tuesday to Saturday 12.00-14.00/17.30-21.30;
Memmelsdorf is served frequently with bus 907 from Bamberg ZOB every 30 min to around 19.00 on Monday to Saturday and hourly to about 18.00 on Sunday and Holidays.
Routes 917 and 927 at irregular times supplement the 907 Monday to Friday.