Saturday 22nd October 2016
This is very interesting phenomenon. It’s an enterprise born in the 21st Century and located in the most brewery-populated area in the world. This is Frankische Schweitz (Franconian Switzerland) where there are around 200 still in operation in it and the surrounding countryside. However the dark side is that it is also where centuries-old brew houses are still closing down and have been doing so for several decades, so this new arrival is especially welcome.
It is the idea of local man Mike Schmitt who had looked at many places to establish a small brewery, even in the far-way province of Baden-Württemberg. Then his mother-in-law offered an old cow shed with some land in the centre of Pretzfeld. Mike and his wife Alexandra then spent a year constructing a pub with a brew house. The grand opening date was 11th October 2008.
Surprisingly, there has been no historic brewery in Pretzfeld, the town’s beers have traditionally come from nearby Ebermannstadt.
That town had seven commercial breweries up to the 1950s and now there is just one. It also had a kommunbrauhaus (commune brewery) that closed in 1962.
The pub is located about 100 metres from the church which represents the middle of Pretzfeld. Thankfully, as it was threatening to rain, it is only a few steps from the bus stop that I had arrived at. With my back to the road, the old cowshed was to the left and the pub directly in front of me. The entrance door is in the middle of the building with biergarten-style benches and tables either side, shaded by green parasols.
Inside I found the kitchen and service counter on the right with the bar room on the left. Some of the brewery’s equipment was visible through a window at the back of the room.
The furniture is large wooden tables, eight in total, of various sizes each accommodating from five to twelve customers. There is a cushioned bench around the walls. The most striking feature are the paintings, various differently coloured owls at one end and a cow and goat at the other. The owl is the symbol of the brewery.
There are two regular draught beers offered: Michala (5.6%), a dark kellerbier and Nikl-Zwickl (5.2%), a light lagerbier. Like all of their beers they are unfiltered.
I had both of these and thought them very good indeed. When I have had Nikl-Zwickl in Nürnberg it has been served with added CO2. Here, however these beers were served without additional gas.
There was one other draught beer offered, a special. This was Winter Ale (5.4%) a top-fermented beer described as light brown in colour, slightly smoky and fruity. They brew a number of specials throughout the year and also some seasonal beers. These include Festbier, Pils, Rauchbier, Weizenbier and Bockbier. Additionally there is range of beers aged in spirit casks, these are bottled only.
Like most of the old established breweries around here, this one is very much a family affair. Mike is the brewer and helps out with the waiting. His wife, mother and mother-in-law operate the kitchen. This specialises in traditional Franconian dishes.
This is an easy pub to visit as it is on the Forchheim to Ebermannstadt railway. It comes recommended but please be aware of the restricted days of opening.
Brauerei Nikl, Egloffsteiner Strasse 19, 91362 Pretzfeld. Tel: 09194 725025
Hours: Friday-Sunday 09.30-23.00. Monday-Thursday: Closed
The best way to get to Pretzfeld is to use the Forchheim to Ebermannstadt railway line.
Pretzfeld is the penultimate station. The trains are operated by the Agilis railway company.
Frequency is hourly from Monday to Sunday.
From the station walk up Bahnhofstrasse. After a short distance, turn into Mühlstrasse. Cross the wooden bridge over the stream. Then turn right into Walter-Schottky-Strasse. Pass the bus stops and turn left into Hauptstrasse. Then turn right into Egloffstrasse. You will find the pub about 100 metres along, on the left.
Bus route 222 is useful should you want to visit other breweries. It stops at Pretzfeld Post bus stop which a few steps from the pub. It is approximately hourly on Weekdays. It runs every two hours on Saturdays, but finishes very early. No service on Sundays. The train does operate on Sundays, see above.
Update January 2020. Winter hours are: Monday-Thursday: by prior arrangement only, for groups, brewery tours, etc. Friday-Saturday: 10.00-20.00; Sunday: Closed.
For Summer hours please see: brauerei-nikl.de