Monday 7th April 2014
After my impromptu visit to the town's Kommunbrauerei (Commune brewery) I thought it was about time I imbibed some of its products. As I walked through the central market place I couldn't help notice the many beery attractions here. Firstly there was the tap of the Brauerei Hösl with its brewery located behind. I tried the door but it was bolted. It was 14.15 and it had closed at 14.00, to re-open at 16.00. Maybe another time!
As I continued my stroll along the marketplace I noticed, on the left by the church, a pub named "Zoiglbauer". I'd not seen it on my previous visit back in the early 1990s. That is not surprising as it opened in June 2009.
Obviously the building holds the right to take and sell the beer from the Kommunbrauerei and this has been re-activated. This operation is obviously designed to make money. Its food is very prominent and they run a mail-order service for beer and spirits (distilled on the premises) and other items.
I continued in the same direction and then turned left into Bachstrasse. Had I continued forward to Oberer Markt (Upper Market) I would have found the Zoigl house of Oppl on the left. Likewise, in Bachstrasse at no 12, I walked past the Zoigl house of Lugert. Of course, it wasn't possible to visit either as they were closed.
Zoigl houses in Mitterteich open according to a set calendar and each of the three traditional outlets only welcome patrons eight times in a year. In this town the actual days of opening are not always confined to weekends, as in other places. This is useful if you are travelling around the area. Yet sometimes there are none open at all. For instance during 2014, in September there is only one open for six days, and in December absolutely none at all. This is when I think the new Zoiglbauer fills the gaps.
I was very impressed as I approached Hartwich because the sign signifying that they were open was a sheaf of branches of a bush hanging high above the street. This is the very first inn sign in recorded history and dates back to the Roman Empire when a taverna would similarly display it to inform potential customers that wine was available. After the collapse of that empire it remained in use in many countries, mainly Catholic, which of course included England, where it evolved into the many and varied inn signs we have today.
Beer from the Kummunbrauerei has been available in my destination for over 200 years. Its modern history would appear to commence in 1821 when it was purchased for 3,200 Guilders (the currency of the time) by a lady who was to become Frau Mühlfenzl. It came with brewing and selling rights. Some time after she handed over the reins to son Josef. In 1877 he had a son, another Josef, and in due course he took over the house.
The Kummunbrauerei closed its doors on the outbreak of war in 1939. I believe the house was selling beer on site right up to that time, but I cannot confirm that. At that time (1940) Ema, the second daughter of Josef married Rudolf Hartwich. In 1966 he applied to re-activate the selling and brewing rights which were granted, and the house re-opened to the public during 1967 with its present name.
In 1976 their son, another Josef, married Gisela Taubert. In 2000 he renovated the house. After his death it was operated by his widow and their adopted son Thomas Seitz-Hartwich and his wife Rita. I believe this is the team operating the house at the time of my visit.
I entered the property via a wooden door that led me to a courtyard where there were tables and benches located at the far end. They were full so I feared the worse as I entered the main building on the left but needn't have worried as the main room had a number of seats.
I settled in and looked around me. The interior is very traditional with a beautiful old French dresser containing a number of historic plates and drinking vessels half way along one wall. The tables were of the scrubbed wood variety that you can find all over Bavaria with a bowl of flowers on each.
The beer arrived in a lovely fluted glass which looked quite old. The best thing about it was the pewter lid, very unusual indeed, and a reminder of days past (see photograph above). These are fitted to protect the beer from flies, wasps and even conkers as a lot of biergartens are shaded by horse chestnut trees.
Another very notable aspect of this house is that the beer is served from an ersatz-holzfass (imitation wood cask) without any gas added.
These casks are made of heavy duty polystyrene and are used by many small breweries. The cask arrives from the cellar on a dumb waiter and is ready to serve in a cool state. I'm sure the throughput on a good day like this one is very high, ensuring the temperature remains at the optimum. I thought the beer had a good body with medium malt yet a very dry finish; really good!
The menu consists of the usual Zoigl house fare with cold meats and sausages, all supplied by the in-house butcher. This is the most traditional of Zoigl houses that I have visited and is highly recommended.
Hartwich, Angergasse 1, 95666 Mitterteich Tel: 09 633 2308
Open: opening times are not known but not later than 14.00
Mitterteich can be reached by bus 6276 from Wiesau station with 11 journeys on a weekday, just 2 on Saturday and none on Sunday.
Wiesau station is served by trains of Vogtlandbahn Railway Company and they operate about every hour Monday to Friday, and two-hourly on Saturday and Sunday.
They run from Regensburg to Marktredwitz via Schwandorf and Weiden. There is also an Alex Express train every two hours from Munich to Hof via the same stations as above.