Tuesday 8th April 2014
Merkendorf, a small village, is blessed with two breweries with their associated pubs. This is not a unique situation in the countryside of Frankenland (Franconia) that surrounds the city of Bamberg, yet it is nevertheless, very notable. I'd last visited the village in May 2013 with the erudite members of the Brewery History Society.
The BHS group had just toured the brewery of Göller in the nearby village of Drosendorf and were relaxing in their biergarten when we crossed paths with Fred Waltman of http://www.franconiabeerguide.com. He advised us that one of the Merkendorf breweries, Wagner, the subject of today's visit, was closed for a family function. So we had no choice but to spend all of time in the village at the Brauerei Hummel, which was actually no great hardship.
So, as can be seen, this was a catching up job as far as BeerVisits is concerned, although I had been here before in the more distant past.
Plotting the history of this brewery has proved quite difficult as there is no source material to go on. It is said to have been founded in 1797 but other sources put it at 1861.
It is just possible that the house was built in 1797 but the brewery didn't open until the latter date. The brewing equipment is housed in a separate building adjacent to the pub which gives a little credence to this theory.
What is known is that came under the control of the Wagner family in 1919, so it is presumed to have been trading under a different name before then. Yet, what it was is a further mystery.
The pub itself is a good looking building overlooked by a large tree that gives shade to the two tables outside. Inside I turned right into the main room. This is a delightful place to eat and drink. There's a wooden service area with the brewery's name displayed above it in a light box. This is quite traditional and I suppose, with so many brewery pubs in a very concentrated area, some drinkers might need reminding what one they are in at any particular time.
The tables are varnished wood along with the chairs that are all cushioned. There's a "kachelofen", the tiled stove that most traditional pubs have. The table in front of this is the "Stammtisch" the table reserved for the regulars. There were plants and flowers all over the place providing a very colourful aspect to the room on a sunny afternoon. On the wall are the brewing diplomas of the Wagner family.
Above the "bar" is a shelf holding a large number of historic krugs, the ceramic mugs used for beers that are unfiltered.
I noticed a door through to another room and wandered in. I thought it was like stepping back in time with its wood panelling to head height and some even older drinking vessels enclosed in glass display cabinets. There was also a lovely poster advertising Bockbier which was not on sale at this time of year.
There are five regular draught beers and all were on offer in the pub. They are Ungespundetes Lagerbier (5.3%) (an unfiltered beer partially fermented in an open vessel), Richard Wagner Dunkel (5.5%) (dark), Weisse (5.3%) (wheat), Märzen (5.4%) (an amber beer once brewed in spring and served in September and October) and Pils (4.9%).
There are also seasonal beers: Festbier (5.7%) is offered at Easter, Whitsun, Christmas and at the village Kirchweih (Church Festival). There are also Bockbier Hell (7.5%) (light) and Bockbier Dunkel (7.5%) (dark), both offered during November and December.
The brewery produces around 17,000 hl per annum. I had the Ungespundetes Lagerbier and thought it was superb. I followed with a Pils, which was also a good example of the style.
This is an excellent pub with great beers and shouldn't be missed if you are around here. It offers a full menu that is available Tuesday to Sunday between 11.30 and 14.00, also 16.30 to 21.00 (not Sunday evenings). There is a large Biergarten at the rear of the pub.
Brauerei Wagner, Pointstrasse 1, 96117 Merkendorf. Tel: 0954 2620
Open: Tuesday-Sunday 09.00-24.00. Monday: Closed
The two pubs are served by the 917 bus from Bamberg via some other beery villages.
It comes to Merkendorf just seven times a day, Monday to Friday only, but it is perfectly feasible to use it. Alight at the church which is between the two pubs.
The village is about two kilometres from Drosendorf, which has the Brauerei Göller, and is served by a much more frequent bus service.
Update January 2020. Hours are now: Tuesday-Sunday: 09.00-23.00; Monday: Closed.