Monday 7th April 2014
Let me explain that this was in fact an impromptu brewery visit. Mitterteich is one of just five towns or villages left in the Oberpfalz area of Bavarian with an active Kommunbrauerei (Commune brewery). I had visited once before, around 20 years ago when details of these breweries were more scant than it is today. I was with John "Ted" Dexter and Ian Simonds and we turned up when there were no outlets open. We did however, discover the location of the brewery and duly photographed it.
This time I was on the bus from the railway station at Wiesau to the town and the memory of that visit came back to me as I was looking out for the brewery as it neared the town centre. I alighted at Oberer Markt (Upper Market place) and walked back to the brewery.
As I neared I got quite excited because there was billowing steam from the chimney; it was a brewing day! The large wooden doors were open so I stepped over the threshold and took a look around. The Braumeister was standing on a higher level between the mash tun and the copper.
I shouted up and asked if I could take some photographs and he nodded in acquiescence, it was noisy in there. It was obvious that there was a boil going on as he opened a trap door on the copper a couple of times and steam came wafting out.
This brewhouse was built in 1854, and I have seen a report that the equipment dates from 1953, although that needs to be confirmed. There was to be a big celebration in the town on Sunday 25th May 2014 to celebrate its 150th anniversary when all of the Zoigl houses were open on a single day.
The copper is encased in red-painted fire brick and is obviously not modern. The tile-covered mash tun was partially obscured from view but that didn't look very new either. Like all Commune breweries still producing, the wort is cooled overnight in the cool ship; a large shallow vessel which I think was located behind the mash tun. It is all heated up by wood-burning furnace. The beer uses bottom fermenting yeast and is unfiltered.
It was interesting to see the two-wheeled tankers that deliver the wort to the appropriate house. I noticed the larger one contained 2704 litres. Another intriguing sight was an old wooden ladder on wheels. I guess the brewer uses it to access parts of the building and / or the equipment. Behind me he was washing down the taps from the mash tun so I offered my thanks and left to find a glass of his product.
Although this was a not a brewery tour in the usual sense it nevertheless provided a unique insight in to the workings of a Kommunbrauerei and its Zoigl beer.
You may be lucky like me and visit on a brewing day and the building is well worth a photograph at any time. You'll find it at Vorstadt, Mitterteich, 95666.