Sunday 6th January 2013
Aalen was quite a brewing town only a decade ago with four working breweries. Since then one has succumbed and almost certainly one other.
The subject of this small article is Löwenbräu at Aalen. Under a mile, and only just over a kilometre away, is another Löwenbräu, at Wasseralfingen, a suburb. On this day I had travelled there hoping to have a beer from both breweries of the same name within an hour.
It was not to be, as the brewery tap at Wasseralfingen wasn't open, although it should have been. Over the week I was in Germany I had many set-backs of this nature as a number of pubs closed for an extended period over the Christmas and New Year period.
Back to Aalen and on the wrong side of the tracks is what is known as Brauerei-Dreieck" (Brewery Triangle). I was visiting the Löwenbräukeller in Galgenbergstrasse.
It is a rather classic building with the pub entrance up a few stairs to compensate for the hill it is situated on. Yet, before I got to the pub I had a good look around the area.
On the opposite side of the street is the Koepf Brauerei. Although it is reported that this medium-sized brewery, founded in 1680, closed as long ago as 2003, the company is still trading with its Kellerberg beers and their administrative offices, at least, remain at the brewery (photo: right). They continue with a wide range of beers, so I presume that they are now a "cuckoo", brewing at another brewery. It has been said that the beers come from Augsburg.
I walked up the yard of Löwenbräu to take a photograph of their brewery (top left) which is a separate building behind the pub, and espied the Grünbaum brewery (photo: left) on the other side of the yard wall.
Three breweries within a square 100 metres! What a pity two of them have closed but at least all the buildings are still intact.
Grünbaum, founded in 1686, is reported to have closed in 2008 and I sampled their beers many times in the past but this in no way compensates for the loss. All that history down the drain, it is so tragic!
Thank goodness the Löwenbräu brewery is still going. It was founded in 1668 and is under the private ownership of the Barth family. The equipment, processes and ingredients are staunchly traditional.
Back to the Löwenbräukeller, I entered the pub at opening time so, of course, was the only customer.
Sadly, this was still the situation when I left forty minutes later although there would have been more trade later as some tables were reserved for Sunday lunch.
The main room is quite small yet is very comfortably furnished. When I explained that I was only there for a drink I was escorted to a large table alongside the bar. This was the only one that wasn't made up so I presume it was there for those who just want a drink.
My first beer was Aalener Spezial (5.3%), their standard Hell (Light) beer and I thought it was wonderful with a nice bitterness in the background all the way through and in the aftertaste.
The other beer I tried was Aalener Löwenpils (4.5%) and, although it was a different style, was equally as good, being a really dry. These beers were so good that I would use them as a yardstick to judge others.
The pub has a small biergarten at the back. Inside, one of more of the more unusual features is the very large room that contains the bowling alleys. These are automated but yet of the tradition nine pin type. The pub must be really busy when they are all in use.
Löwenbräukeller (Aalener Löwenbrauerei), Gelgenbergstrasse 8, Aalen, 73431
Tel: 0736 132 590
Open: Monday/Wednesday to Saturday 16.00-23.00; Sunday 11.30-14.30; 17.00-23.00
The pub and brewery are just five minutes from Aalen station. Do not use the main exit but walk to the southerly end of the platform you arrived on. Here you find stairs and a lift down to a subway. Turn left, away from the town centre. At the end climb the stairs on the right, walk across the small car park. You will now be in Hirschbachstrasse. Go right along this road and you will see Gelgenbergstrasse on the left. The Löwenbräukeller is about 50 metres along on the left.
Update October 2017. The Löwenbräukeller is promoting itself as a Schwabian restaurant and it is not known if it’s possible to visit for beer only.
Hours: Sunday: 17.00-21.00; Monday: Closed, Tuesday to Saturday: 17.00-22.00.