München (Munich), Bayern (Bavaria):
Paulaner am Nockherberg
Thursday 20th May 2010
The history of this brewery commences in 1627, comparatively young, considering most of the others were established before the Rheinheitsgebot (Pure Beer Law) was enacted in 1516.
The founding fathers (literally) were monks following the order of Saint Francis of Paola who were invited to move from Italy to settle in Au, a village close to Munich and now a suburb, by the Bavarian Elector Maximillian.
They were a very strict order and were vegetarians and suffered as they no longer could rely on wine to supplement their very basic diet. A stroke of luck (hand of god?) occurred in 1633 when they were bequeathed a brewery by the widow of the brewer. In 1634 the court granted permission for them to brew beer.
One of the brothers' beers was called Salvator after a church near to their cloisters. It was brewed to celebrate the feast day of the order's founder, St Francis of Paola. It was their strongest beer and it is a name that stays with us today and is still very strong, but nothing like what it must have been back then.
Beginning in 1751 on 2nd April, St Francis Day, they were allowed to let the public to have the beer at the monastery gate. They gave it away, but soon it was recognised by the populace as being the strongest beer available, albeit on just one day a year, so eventually the fathers charged for it
Even so, the price was below that of the inns and taverns in the city and innkeepers made a protest to the court, to no avail.
It was during this period that the name Paulaner was first used, being the germanic expression term for persons from Paola. The tapping of the first Salvator (now referred to as a Doppel-Bock in style) was moved in 1830 to a two weeks in March. The celebration of this first tapping of the beer remains with us today. Presumably the beer has matured all winter.
During the period of Bavarian secularisation the order lost control of their brewery in 1799 and initially it was run by the state.
In 1806 it was leased by Franz Xaver Zacherl and in 1813 he bought it. He committed suicide in 1849 and control was passed to two nephews by the name of Schmederer, as he had no heirs. There followed a good period of growth and in 1886 it became a limited company.
In 1899 it was reorganised as Paulanerbräu zum Salvator Keller. During the hard financial period of the great slump of the 1920s it merged with Thomasbräu but both continued brewing at their respective breweries. Several other breweries were absorbed during this period.
The Thomasbräu brewery was destroyed by bombing in the Second World War and production of their beers moved to the main Paulaner brewery which itself was undergoing rebuilding after wartime destruction. This reconstruction lasted until 1967. Growth continued through the decades towards the end of the twentieth century.
A big change was in 1979 when Josef Schorghuber acquired Paulaner just after he had purchased neighbours Hacker-Pschorr. He was a property magnate and used Paulaner as the holding company for other brewery purchases.
In 1986 this included Auerbräu of Rosenheim and, more seriously, Reichelsbräu and Monchshof of Kulmbach, the great brewing town of Franconia which is now down from four massive breweries to just one. 1991 saw it acquire the Dessauer-Brauerei of Dessau, in the newly liberated East of Germany. In 1995 it bought the EKU brewery of Kulmbach, its third in this town, followed in 1996 by Turm & Taxis.
The situation regarding the Paulaner brewery and that of Hacker-Pschorr is a little confusing but I think this is how it works. All the beer is brewed in the Hacker-Pschorr Brewery in the valley over the road. It is there that the yeast is pitched and the main fermentation takes place.
It is then transferred to the Paulaner Brewery which is next to the Biergarten on the top of the hill. One can stand at the entrance of Paulaner and see the other brewery. I am not sure if any brewing is done at the Paulaner plant, although there was plenty of smoke coming from its tall chimney.
To move on from the history I was very surprised when I entered through the entrance gate of the biergarten and didn't recognise the building. Unknown to myself the existing Salvator Keller had burnt down in an arson attack during 1999. What I was looking at was quite new, and very modern, unlike its predecessor, and dated from 2003. Inside everything gleamed with copper holding tanks behind the bar area. I thought it had the feel of a modern brewpub. It is fine but I really missed the old building and fondly remember drinking a Salvator in the actual Salvator Keller, in a wonderfully atmospheric room, it doesn't get much better. It is a pity they couldn't replicate the old building as was done all over Munich after the Second World War.
The new pub is known as the Paulaner Wirtshaus and building extends to encompass the outlets that serve the garden.
There is a good range of the company's beers available on draught. These are Original Munchner Hell (4.9%) (Light); Original Munchner Dunkel (5.0%) (Dark); Hefeweissbier (5.5%) (Wheat): Hefeweissbier Dunkel (5.3%) (Dark Wheat); Nockherberger (5.2%) (Keller beer) and last but definitely not least, Salvator (7.5%).
On the day of my visit it had just stopped raining and the Biergarten was not being used so I was able to obtain a photograph of the huge garden with all the tables and chairs out, yet not a soul in sight. The beer for the self-service garden comes from wooden barrels and this is the only place where you can drink Nockherberger, an unfiltered beer in the Kellerbier style. It is well worth making the short journey from the city centre, especially on a nice day.
Paulaner am Nockherberg, Hochstrasse 77, München 81541
Open: Daily 10.00-01.00
The Paulaner Garten is about ten minutes walk from the Ostfriedhof stop which is the intersection of Tram routes 15, 17, 25 and Night tram N27. It is also about fifteen minutes from Kolumbusplatz which has a U-Bahn station on routes U1, U2 and U7.
It also has a stop on the 58 Bus route. From the square (Kolumbusplatz) find Nockerstrasse. Walk down this street to the Hotel. You see some steps on the right which take you up to park. At the top take a left turn along a path. Then take the next path on the right which climbs. Eventually you'll see a footbridge on the right that crosses the main road. Then you are opposite your destination. Quite frankly, it's better to go to Ostfriedhof on the tram!