Windischeschenbach, Bayern (Bavaria):
Hotel Oberpfälzer Hof
Saturday 18th May 2013
This hotel commands an imposing position on the corner of the main street (Hauptstrasse) and the small central square (Stadtplatz). When I visited there was an enormous May Pole in the middle of the square and it provided an impressive backdrop to the hotel as I walked along Hauptstrasse (Main Street).
Yet, why am I visiting a hotel? Well, this village is one of the few left in the Oberpfalz region to still possess a commune brewery that is in use. The basic principle of the Kummunbrauerei is that the beer is brewed on the equipment of the community (village or town) to the recipe of a particular outlet. After maturation it is transferred to the cellar of the house that will sell it; in this case the Hotel Oberpfälzer Hof.
Most of the other outlets serving the distinctive Zoigl beer are private houses with a room or two that has been converted in to something resembling a small rustic pub that only opens for a weekend about once a month or so. However this one is different, as it is a fully-fledged hotel with a bar open most of the week. Nevertheless, it still displays the traditional sign outside when the home-brewed beer is on offer. I have never stayed here, but I would like to one day. It certainly seems very comfortable and I like the 1960s atmosphere it exudes.
Entrance is through an arched doorway and then up a few steps. You are now in the main corridor and should you continue you'd find yourself in the compact beer garden. Turn left and you'll be in the main room. The area set up for drinkers is quite small but completely adequate. The room leads on to a larger dining room with beautiful stained glass windows in traditional style. However, as in most Bavarian pubs, I'm sure the areas are interchangeable. In and around the small serving area there is a nice display of ceramic drinking vessels. Also, as befitting the main pub and restaurant in the town, there is a display of photographs of the past luminaries of Windischeschenbach.
There is a full menu offering Bavarian cuisine and on Sunday and Holidays there are local specialities available. I thought the food here was extremely well-priced. Apart from the Zoigl beer, they also offer Kulmbacher Reichelbräu Hell (4.9%) and Kulmbacher Edelherb Pils (4.9%) on draught. The hotel has been in the ownership of the same family since 1910. It has twenty-five en suite rooms at very reasonable rates and would make a good base to tour the beery attractions of the area.
From the hotel it is but a few minutes walk to the Kommunbrauhaus (Commune Brew House) which appropriately located in Braugasse. The first brewery was established in 1455 on this site by a small stream named Rumpelbach, a tributary of the Waldnaab that also flows through the town. It was destroyed by fire in 1848 and the current building was erected in 1852. There was a complete renovation in 1928 and I noticed that it has received a new roof since I visited last.
The beer brewed is bottom-fermented and undergoes a ten day primary maturation period before being stored in a tank for the secondary fermentation which is done in the cellar of the premises that will sell it. This can last between two and four weeks, depending on the recipe of the house that commissioned it. The beer has a mid brown colour and looks like an ale, but isn't yet does have a certain similarity in taste.
There was brewing going on when I passed by the brewery, but I had to resist the temptation to go in. This was because I was on a tight schedule that day, as there were more Zoigl houses open than there normally are. This occasionally happens.
If you are in or near this rather remote area of Germany the town is well worth a visit for some excellent beer but try to go at a weekend as there are more houses open.
Hotel Oberpfälzer Hof, Hauptstrasse 1, Windischeshenbach 92670. Tel: 09681 788
Open: Thursday-Tuesday 10.00-22.00. Wednesday: Closed
Buses to Windischeschenbach are infrequent and usually run only Mondays to Fridays.
The station is served by trains of Vogtlandbahn railway company and operate about every hour Monday to Friday, and two-hourly on Saturday and Sunday.
They run from Regensburg to Marktredwitz via Schwandorf and Weiden.