Pottenstein, Bayern (Bavaria):
Saturday 22nd October 2016
Pottenstein is at the heart of Frankische Schweitz (Franconian Switzerland), an area of Upper Franconia that is thought to resemble that alpine country. Well it doesn’t, yet it is very beautiful nevertheless. Its main feature are the large outcrops of karst rock that often tower over small towns and villages. It is the northern part of the Franconian Jura. There are lots of caves and castles and it is very romantic.
As is Pottenstein, with its half-timbered buildings dating from the end of the Eighteenth Century, when the town began life as the centre of this tourist attraction. When I first visited in the 1990s there were three breweries. However the number is now two.
In those days the roads must have been fairly good as there was a need to get the raw materials of beer to the town. No fields of barley and hop gardens around here.
Whilst the brewery has a long history, the more recent years have been the most fundamental in deciding its present day situation. Yet, let’s go back earlier to set the picture. The building of the Gasthaus was constructed in 1783 but it was a house, not a pub. The brewery was established in 1803 at another location close by. In 1990 it was decided by the owning family Weingärtner, to adopt the house as a pub, and provide it with a house brewery.
The old brewery was closed down and the buildings are now used as Hufeisen bierkeller. However the old brewery did not die then and during 1990 it was dismantled and thoroughly cleaned up. It had been purchased by Richard Luber who owned the Goldenen Löwen (Golden Lions) in Kallmünz, a small town in the Oberpfalz around 25 kms north of Regensberg. He wanted a small brewery to brew for his inn and it was installed and began production in 1992. Kallmünzer Dunkel and Weisse are made to Hufeisen recipes.
On this rather overcast day I alighted from the bus at the bottom of the town and walked up the Hauptstrasse (High Street) to the pub, passing the Brauerei Mager on the way.
My destination occupies a commanding position and you couldn’t miss it because of its prominent wrought iron sign. Hufeisen translates as “hoof-iron” or, as you would say in English, horse-shoe. Naturally that is the shape of the hanging sign outside.
I went up a few steps and entered. I was in a corridor that had a large painting of men drinking in a pub and a wooden contraption that looked like a small wheelbarrow for moving barrels. I went right through a door into the bar room. This is quite small but very comfortable. It had a typical Franconian look about it.
There was a tiled floor and fitted furniture around the walls in the form of a continuous wooden bench with loose cushions. In front of it are light wooden-topped tables and loose dark wood loose chairs. The wooden panelling that extended almost up to the ceiling was surmounted by a shelf that held various artefacts such as trays, jugs, mugs, dolls and the inevitable horse-shoe.
The small wooden service counter is near the entrance door. Whilst consuming my beer I noticed a sliding door on my right. Intrigued, I went through and found another room and on the far side, the brewery. It was behind glass and wood panels. The mash tun and copper were at the front yet there was much more equipment further back.
The room itself looked comfortable with plastered walls displaying a number of brewing diplomas. The seating is arranged in fitted alcoves with wooden tables.
The windows were of stained glass and there were many potted plants on the shelves. The floors are tiled. I think it must be very nice to sit in here with a beer when in your view the brewer is preparing another one!
Now, back to beer. When I asked the waitress what draught beers were on offer she mentioned the dark beer and the wheat beer but added that they had a special and that was Pale Ale (4.9%). I hesitated for a moment but I only had time for only one beer, so I went for it. I thought it was fine, definitely an American Pale Ale, but nonetheless very good.
There are three regular beers: Ur-dunkel (4.9%), which is said to have been brewed throughout the full five generations under the Wiegärtner family’s ownership of the brewery; Kellerweizen (4.8%), a wheat beer that has a four week maturation period. The final member of the trio is Premium Pils (4.8%).
The first two are certified organic and are available on draught in the pub. The Pils is bottle only. All are bottled and sent away to a brewery in Bayreuth for this to be done. Brewing is normally done on Tuesday and Wednesday. Their annual production is around 1,500 hl.
It is said that the food is good here. I can certainly attest to the quality of the beer. This pub should be visited should you be in this part of Germany.
Brauerei Hufeisen, Hauptstrasse 36-38, 91278 Pottenstein. Tel: 09243 260
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 09.00-23.00; Monday (except holidays) Closed.
Also closed from Christmas Eve to second weekend in New Year.
Bus 389 runs from Ebermannstadt (station at the end of a branch line from Forchheim) to
Pegnitz (station on the Pegnitz valley line from Nürnbeg to Bayreuth, Hof and Cheb (Czech Republic).
This bus route is not very frequent but can be easily used. There are five journeys on Monday to Friday.
Three each way operate on Saturday and Sunday. This is the Winter service, there are a more in summer.
The pub is around five minutes walk from the bus stop where there is a map of the town.