Friday 30th May 2014
The ancient city of Heidelberg is well-known for its historic university and the duels that occurred between the students in the past. It stands on the banks of the River Neckar and is extremely beautiful especially in the narrow streets of the Altstadt (Old Town). This pub-brewery is located here at the easterly end, quite near to the Karlstor (Charles Gate), a gate through the old city wall.
Records exist of brewing being undertaken in or around this area that date back to 1235. The main recipient of this beer was the castle and its court which overlooks this area.
By the early 18th century there was full commercial brewing on the site by the Brauerei Schaaf. Regretfully I have been unable to find out when they ceased brewing but they continued through the 19th century.
The main section of the present-day pub was in fact part of the Schaaf brewery and its principle room is very atmospheric. After entering the impressive curved service bar is in front of the visitor. There are fixed benches around some of the walls with fitted green stuffed leather cushioning. The tables are very much a mixture with some being of the long scrubbed beer-hall type.
Some of the other tables are of the normal four and six seat type and near the entrance there are some tall versions for standing customers.
There is wood panelling to well above head height and on one wall there is an antique painting of the city and river. There are also some wonderfully ornate wrought iron chandeliers with electric lighting.
There is a large side room and even more seating accommodation on the upper floor. The pub holds around 300 diners and drinkers under cover. The brewery is in a modern self-contained building on the opposite side of the courtyard which doubles as a beer garden.
The old building was purchased and the pub opened in 1998. The brewery began its business a little after that and normally turns out around 1,200 hl of beer per annum. It is a new construction and can be seen in the photograph bottom left.
There are just two beers that are offered all year round. These are Pils (4.8%) which unusually uses hops from New Zealand, Motueka and Cascade. The other is Kräusen (5.2%), a cloudy beer which has a six week maturation period and is served in traditional ceramic krugs.
Then there are the seasonal beers: Hefeweizen (5.2%) is a top fermented wheat beer that is available most of the year from spring to autumn. This is replaced in winter by Dunkelweizen (5.4%), a stronger dark wheat beer, also produced by top fermentation. For Fasching (the carnival at the finish of Lent) and Easter there is Faschingsbier (5.8%) and Osterbier (5.8%). These are actually brewed to the same recipe and are quite heavily hopped. Dependent on when Easter falls they could quite easily overlap some years.
For early summer there is Maibock (6.7%), a very traditional style that in past times was matured all winter. This version is nevertheless fermented for a long time. Because of this it comes out as very sweet. This is counteracted by some quite heavy dry hopping.
For actual period of Lent there is Scheffelator Festenbock (7.2%). Oktoberfestbier is a protected name that can only be made by Munich breweries so here it is known as Herbstfestbier (5.5%), Autumn Festival beer. Its malts are Pilsner, Münchner, Light and Dark Karamalt along with Tetnang and Saaz hops.
The final seasonal beer is Porter (5.8%), a style that was once common in Central Europe and here it is bottom fermented, which is also the norm outside the British Isles and the USA. It can be consumed from November onwards.
So, there are many reasons to come here if you are in the beautiful city of Heidelberg. And not only for beer as the menu is highly recommended with many specialities from the Pfalz region with the signature dish being Knuspriges Spanferkel (Crispy suckling pig).
Scheffel’s Kurtutbrauerei Heidelberg, Leyergasse 6, 68117, Geidelberg. Tel: 06221 502890
Open: Monday-Saturday 07.00-23.00; Sunday 08.00-23.00
The pub can be reached by any city bus that runs along Neckar embankment. These are 31, 32 and 35. Neckarmünzplatz is the stop. The 32 comes from the Hauptbahnhof (Central Station). There is also the route 33 that runs through the old town and stops at Rathaus / Bergbahn. It also comes from the station.