Sunday 6th January 2013
Ellwangen is an ancient partially-walled town in the province of Baden-Württemberg close to its border with Bayern (Bavaria). It has been in existence for over 1,200 years and the "Red Oxen" pub is not very young either, as the first recorded mention of it comes in 1542. The brewery is a little later as it was established in 1680. Note the slight difference in the spelling of the names of pub and brewery; the latter is Rotochsen.
The brewing operation moved out of the town centre a long time ago and a completely new brewery was opened in 1960. In 1798 the Veit family gained control and still is, over 200 years later.
On entering through the impressive front door, the bar service area is directly in front with a small waiting area around it. However there is no space for drinkers who are accommodated in various rooms with entrances around the central area. We headed for the room on the right of the front door and this proved to be a good choice.
I was with fellow imbiber Russell and we managed to get two seats at the end of a large table. Because it was Sunday lunch time the place was packed and service was, understandably a bit slow. This wasn't helped as we had arrived at a time when several large family groups were preparing to leave and wanted to settle their bills. This pub opens at 07.00 and I would think that the best time to visit would be in the morning.
Eventually the beers arrived. We had both decided on the normal Helles beer, Rotochsen Edel-Export (5.1%), mainly because there wasn't any time to question the busy waitress on what other draught beers were available. However I would guess at Pils and a Hefeweizen.
Actually we were disappointed with the beer ordered for two reasons. Firstly, it was quite gassy and secondly it wasn't very bitter, having a strange yet malty taste. Acceptable, but we have had a lot better. They do various beer tastings with food.
Whilst we were sitting there we looked around the room and it was a classic with solid wooden furniture and stained glass windows. This room is the Bierstube; the other rooms were all named but were less traditional. They are known as the Rotenstube, Grünen Stuben and the Weisse Zimmer. Presumably, the colours mentioned in the titles refer to how they are decorated. It is also a hotel and the room rates seem to be reasonable and there are also some package deals.
Finally, it's a pub that deserves to be revisited at a quieter time to try some of the other beers.
Roter Ochsen, Schmiedstrasse 16, Ellwangen 73479. Tel: 0796 14071
Open: Tuesday to Saturday 07.00-24.00; Sunday 07.00-15.00. Monday: Closed.
It is about five minutes from Ellwangen railway station. Coming out of the station, turn right into Bahnhof Strasse. As you walk along you will see a stone gate in the old town wall in front of you. Go through it and will find yourself in Marktplatz. Continue in roughly the same direction and the pub is visible, not least because of its red walls and large flag.