Visited on: Thursday 26th July 2018
To find a family-owned traditional brewery in a Franconian town that is less than one hundred years old is not dissimilar to discovering the proverbial needle. However, Brauerei Lindenbräu is one of those rare beasts. Its origins come about because of the town’s Kommunbrauerei (Commune brewery) or more precisely, its protracted demise.
Commune breweries were once frequently found throughout the region. They were established by town or village councils. The way it usually worked was that households that that had permission brewed wort at the brewery. It remained there overnight in shallow vessels (Kuhlschiff = Coolship in English). It was then taken home to have yeast and hops added to the owner’s own recipe and then fermented in their cellar.
Some houses also used the Kommunbrauerei, matured the beer in the same way and sold it to the public in a Gaststätte or Gasthof.
One of these was “Zur Linde” established around 1900 named after nearby Linden (Lime) trees. In the early 1930s owner Fritz Brehmer decided he’d enough of the Commune brewery and had his own built at the rear of the inn.
The brewery opened in 1932 and supplied the pub and about ten others in surrounding villages. The same copper and mash tun surrounded by tiles, are still in use, albeit now controlled by a hi-tech system. Yet, the beer is still matured in one of three open fermentation vessels, before lagering in one of nineteen tanks, varying in size from 15 hl up to 65 hl.
Fritz Brehmer was succeeded by his son Georg in the 1950s and he managed to double the output. He died suddenly in 2000. Fortunately his daughter Irene Brehmer-Stockum, had qualified as a Master Brewer.
She took over the brewery, assisted by her husband Ralf. The brewery retains its own floor maltings which can handle two and a half tonnes at a time, although some malt is bought in.
The family owns land around the town and they lease it to farmers to produce barley for them which they buy at a favourable rate.
Irene has modernised the bottling plant and installed a new bottle washing machine. During her time in charge she has doubled the quantity of beers brewed and the brewery still directly supplies about ten rural pubs.
They also supply beverage markets in Nürnberg.
On an extremely hot day it was thankfully only a five minute walk from Brauerei Friedmann via a gate in the town wall and through the historic centre. As soon as I had turned right into Am Bach I could see the Brauerei Lindenbräu Gasthof.
It certainly looked splendid with its huge wrought iron sign and geranium bedecked balcony. There is a small shaded platform for outside drinking facing the road and there is some more up the yard that separates the gasthof from the brewery building.
I entered the pub from this yard and found a very comfortable and traditional room. Light varnished wood predominates from the service counter to the bench seats around the walls, also the loose furniture.
Garlands of hops hang from the ceiling. Because of the many windows there was a light and airy feeling about the room. Plants in pots were on every window shelf. This is a fantastic display of krugs (traditional Bavarian ceramic mugs) above the bar area. On the far wall there is a kackelofen (tiled wood-burning stove) with the fascia in a rather unconventional colour. The food here is very good and the brotzeit (bread time) is the best I have ever had. It’s cold meats and cheese with dark bread.
Draught beers offered were Vollbier and Pilsener. The brewery’s other beers are available in bottle. Their full range is Pilsener (4.8%); Vollbier (5.2%), sometimes described as a Zwicklbier; Weizen (5.2%), bottled only; Bockbier (6.5%), a dark Bock available from April onwards; Leicht (2.7%), light low alcohol beer and finally Festbier (5.4%), a Märzen offered September to November.
This is a very good pub-brewery and don’t forget it is a Gasthof so offers rooms. It would make a very good base to tour this brewery-laden area of Fränkische Schweiz (Franconian Switzerland).
Brauerei Gasthof Lindenbräu, Am Bach 3, 91322 Gräfenberg. Tel: 091 92 348
Hours: Summer (mid March to mid November): Monday: 16.00-22.00;
Tuesday-Thursday: 11.00-22.00; Friday: 11.00-23.00; Saturday: 10.00-23.00; Sunday: Sunday.
Winter (mid November to mid March): Sunday-Monday: Closed;
Tuesday-Friday: 11.00-22.00; Saturday: 10.00-22.00.
This pub is accessible from Nürnberg city centre.
You catch the U-Bahn (Underground/Metro) line U2 to Nürnberg Nordost station, the end of the line.
Then transfer to DB and travel on Regionalbahn train (RB) to the terminus at Gräfenberg.
Turn left out of the station, cross the car park and turn left into Bahnhofstrasse.
At the top this becomes Am Bach, the pub is found on the left side of the road.
Or, if you are really lucky there will be a bus to take you to the village centre.
Gräfenberg station is also a bus station so it is possible to arrive there by bus.