Wednesday 25th April 2018
Where are we today? Solothurn is in middle Switzerland located on the River Aare and is not too far from the capital Bern. The official language is Swiss Standard German and this is the tongue you will find represented on signs, in shops and local newspapers. However, amongst themselves the residents communicate in the local version of Schweizerdeutsch which is a German language of the Alemannic variation.
It is capital of its eponymous canton. With a population of just under 17,000 it has its own cathedral dedicated to St Ursus.
One very unusual feature is Solothurn’s affinity with the number eleven, references to which are found throughout the town. Probably the most important manifestation of this is contained in the fact that it was the eleventh canton to join the Helvetic Confederation.
This neatly leads us to the Brauerei Öufi. Öufi is eleven in the local Schweizerdeutsch language. It was founded by Alex Künzle and it opened on 11th November 2000. It quickly established itself as a leading producer in the Solothurn canton. However there was a problem inasmuch that they did not have a bottling plant and a lot of their beer was sold that way in shops and supermarkets.
From the beginning Öufi’s bottled beers were brewed by Brauerei Karbacher in Trimbach. After a couple of years the production was switched to Felsenau in Bern where it remained for twelve years until 2015. The beers were brewed and bottled at these plants. In 2015 new brewery was constructed. The old brewery had a capacity of 2,500 hectolitres per annum. The new plant is capable of turning out 5,000 hectolitres each year and this can be increased with the addition of more fermentation vessels.
The old brewery is still used for the draught speciality beers, often in German or British styles. They have a core range and have brewed up to 60 different brews in a year. The beers off the new equipment can be bottled at a rate of 4,000 bottles per hour. However only about half of that figure can be processed if the bottle is of the old flip-top design (bügelflaschen) as these are closed by hand.
An interesting side project here is whisky distillation. This was started in 2001 on a very small plant.
The concept right from the beginning was to mature it for eleven years, to fit in with the brewery’s name. A whisky distillation was started every year from 2001 and the original batch was bottled in 2012.
As mentioned the new brewery was constructed on another site. This freed up room for more whisky production.
The statistics are interesting. They use 3,000 litres of top-fermented strong ale without hops, typically around 7.5% abv. It will fill a 225 litre barrel made of French or American oak. Initially the casks had previously used for production of Rioja. Now the casks employed have earlier held Masala, the Sicilian desert wine. The spirit comes out of the distillery at 70% abv. It is diluted to 60% before being put into the maturation casks. When decanted the strength is reduced to 42% abv.
The pub is in a district around two kilometres from Solothun Hbf (main station). It is in an old factory premises located on Fabrikstrasse.
I went up the stairs and entered the building. Although there is a room on the left of the entrance the sound of chatter and clinking glasses was from the right.
So, following my senses I entered the main room which had a slightly industrial feel to it.
Immediately noticeable on my right was the long bar counter with the brewing equipment located behind. There were many metal stools in front of the counter. Along the wall opposite were a number of loose tables with chairs and more were to be found either side of the entrance door. The end of the room had many more loose tables along with a large flat screen TV on the wall.
Judging by the football photos and shirts displayed here this is the “Sports Bar” area of the pub. There is also a table football machine.
About halfway along the left side of the room are a few steps up, leading outside. Here I found a Biergarten with its own outside bar counter, the sign above which displayed the slogan “The Power of Positive Drinking”.
It wasn’t open on this evening. It was after all, April in Switzerland!
There was a good selection of draught beer available which was handy as I was going nowhere else in the city that evening.
There were seven draught varieties on offer. Rather than a big list I think it is better to display them as a photo of the beer menu, see right.
The first three are regulars. The remaining four are specials and change very frequently. I had all apart from the Weizenbier and I can attest to their quality.
This pub is well worth the short journey from Solothurn’s city centre. Almost certainly the best beer in town!
Brauerei Öufi Braui-Beiz, Fabrikstrasse 4, Solothurn 4500. Web: oeufi-bier.ch Tel: 41 32 621 49.
Monday-Thursday: 1600-23.30; Friday: 1530-00.30; Saturday: 1130-00.30; Sunday: Closed.
To get here from the railway station it is best to get a bus.
Get one via the city centre that goes to the Grenchenstrasse stop, which is actually in Weissensteinstrasse.
From here walk forward along this road in the same direction of the bus you have just got off.
Cross over the intersection, remaining on Weissensteinstrasse. Then turn left into Grenchenstrasse.
Take the first left turn. This is Fabrikstrasse and you will find the pub and brewery on the left.