Wednesday 9th April 2014
The small town of Reckendorf has two breweries with their own pubs, a remarkable fact when you consider its population is around 2,000. I had hoped to visit them both this morning and allowed myself around 90 minutes to complete the task. My intention was to walk past the beautiful brewery buildings of Schlossbrauerei (Castle brewery) to take a photograph of it and then visit their Brauerei Gasthaus (brewery pub) which is around 100 metres away in a nearby street.
All of this was achieved but the pub was closed. It has no lunchtime opening on Wednesdays, something I was unaware of. All well, thank goodness there are two breweries here! In retrospect the extra time proved to be very useful indeed. A further hundred metres on brought me to the pub of Brauerei Schroll on Hauptstrasse (Main street). Its brewery is located behind the old half-timbered pub.
I entered and turned right into the main room. I have to say that if like your pubs to be unspoilt then this one is for you.
By far and away the dominant material used is wood. The walls are panelled almost up to the ceiling except on the two sides where the windows are, where it just goes up to waist height. Unusually, the ceiling is also made of wood, as is a lovely coat rack.
There is a piano in one corner and beside it there is sliding wooden panelling that when opened, leads to a "nebenzimmer", literally a side room. Nearly every pub has these and they are normally used at busy times or for functions such as receptions after weddings, christenings and funerals. There are also hired for business meetings and seminars.
The serving area or the bar if you like, is also wooden but with a stainless steel top. I know you've guessed what the tables and chairs are made of, but the seats do have fitted cushions.
There is the obligatory illuminated brewery sign above the serving area and above that there is carved in wood, a homily. It was in Old Gothic script and I tried to translate it whilst in the pub and got past the first bit. When I got home I used a computer to translate the rest but it still made no sense. It starts as "The water at any time is the best", guess the rest? I can't!
There is normally only one draught beer offered at most times of the year and that is Urtrunk or "original drink". It most definitely is not of the normal Hell or Lagerbier styles offered in a number of breweries. It is a mid to dark brown beer and has a malty body with a bit of bitterness in the finish. Judging by its name I would suggest that it is the same, or similar to, the beer brewed when the brewery opened in the mid 1800s.
The only other draught beer offered is Bock at Christmas and during Lent.
Whilst I was enjoying my second beer I felt the need to visit the facilities which were one side of the yard that leads to the brewery. Afterwards I took a photograph of the outside of the brewery building. As this was taking place a man walked past offering a cheery "guten morgen", I responded and went back to the pub.
About five minutes later he arrived in the pub and introduced him self as Karl-Heinz Schroll, the owner. He asked if I wanted to look around the brewery. Well, does the Pope have a balcony? I jumped at the chance. We went back down the yard and turned right into the building. Up a few stairs and we were in the brewing hall. I had a good look at the mash tun and copper and would guess that they were installed in the 1960s or 1970s.
He then took me to see the lager cellar which had four large stainless steel tanks that looked modern. Our final stop was the bottling hall that was operating at full pelt. This was new and it was a real surprise as with only one regular beer, I didn't believe that such a modern plant would be justified. There were three employees involved. One man sat at a console monitoring the supply of beer to the filling heads.
I noticed that there were a lot more than four tanks displayed on his monitor so I guess the ones I saw were for the primary fermentation, they were quite big. I couldn't see any pasteurization equipment so I guess the beers are in their natural state which would give them a shelf life of about a month. This would probably be sufficient as a very large amount of beers in this part of the world are consumed in the home with the benefit of house delivery by the brewery.
There was a lady who was loading empty plastic crates on to a conveyer that went up and over the operator to a man who was receiving the filled and capped bottles. These had been filled on a turntable and then they rolled along a single file conveyor belt to him. He operated a sophisticated bit of machinery that picked up 12 separate bottles at the same time and placed them into crates.
In 2011 the output of the brewery was 2,800 hl per annum. I thought that this is a very small amount to justify the amount of investment.
When I visited the Fassla brewery in Bamberg I noticed a similar sized plant. Yet that brewery produces 28,000 hl per annum, ten times the amount.
The only thing I can think of is that they do contract bottling for other breweries.
The brewery was established in the mid 1800s. I could find out very little about its previous existence except that it was known as Brauerei Pancraz Voll till 1870. Thereafter it was the Brauerei Schmitt. Its present name arose when the Schroll family took control of the business in 1965.
It was an insightful little tour around a lovely small-town brewery and a pleasurable visit to its excellent pub. After I finished my beer I thanked Herr Schroll for his hospitality and strolled back to the station to catch the train back to Bamberg.
Brauerei Schroll, Hauptstrasse 38, 96182 Reckendorf. Tel: 09544 20338
Open: Friday-Wednesday 09.00-23.00. Thursday: Closed.
There are buses through the town but easily the best way to get to the town is by train.
It is on a branch line to Ebern. Trains run hourly from Bamberg on all days of the week.
It is Regional line R26 and the trains are operated by the Agilis company.
The station is around ten minutes walk from the station.