Schesslitz, Bayern (Bavaria):
Brauerei Gasthof Drei Kronen
Tuesday 8th April 2014
Schesslitz is an ancient town on the Bamberg to Bayreuth road. This part of the road was once part of the Reichsstrasse, the old imperial road from Rottenburg, near Würzburg to Cham in Oberpfalz (The Upper Palatinate). The town was first recorded in 805 and obtained its charter in 1230. It's just 14 kms from Bamberg and at the beginning of the climb up into Fränkische Schweiz (Franconian Switzerland). This is a hilly area that has cliffs and some beautiful villages in its valleys.
At that distance it seems about right for a stage coach to change horses and there were many inns (with breweries) to provide this service and overnight accommodation.
There are a number of stunning old buildings along Hauptstrasse (Main Street) that performed this function. Luckily they are still with us today and give a true and authentic impression of an 18th or 19th century street scene, minus the horse muck, of course.
As stated we are lucky to still have this vista today. Where we are very unlucky is that nearly all of these breweries have now closed. I visited the town in September 1994 with a group of colleagues. Three on the main street were still brewing and we visited all of them. A walk along Hauptstrasse was very strange for me because all of the physical evidence of these lost breweries is still with us.
I alighted from the bus from Bamberg at the St Kilian's church stop and right by it is the Brauerei Schmitt. I looked through the large windows of the 1950 / 1960s built brew house (photo above). The infrastructure is still intact including the brewing equipment with the control panel with a black and white VDU built in to the fascia. It looks just like they haven't stopped brewing, yet they did in 2001. A great pity as they were founded in 1846.
They are still trading and sell a range of their own beers on draught and in bottle but where they actually come from is a bit of a mystery. Their website says that they are brewed in the shadow of the Gliechburg. This is a hill with a castle atop that overlooks the town.
There is one brewery that I can think that could be described thus is Hartmann at Würgau, a few more kilometres along the road. Yet with no proof, this is purely a supposition on the origins of Schmitt's beers.
The only other possibility is the tiny Brauerei Hoh in Röttensdorf which only brews one beer for itself, so that would be very doubtful.
They still maintain an off-sales department that deals with all kinds of drinks. Their pub (see photo, above right) adjacent to the brewery also remains open, selling their draught beers and it offers a limited menu. The times are: Monday-Wednesday/Friday 16.00-24.00; Thursday/Saturday Closed; Sunday 10.00-12.30. Note: they only open every second Sunday according to a notice outside the pub.
Walking back towards Bamberg I turned a bend in the road and had a look at the erstwhile Brauerei Barth-Sender. This brewery closed in 2012 and that was particularly sad as it was staunchly traditional. They only brewed one beer, a mid brown coloured Vollbier that was served directly from a cask in their pub.
Their pub (see photo, below right) closed at the same time as the brewery. Again, like Schmitt, it looks as if it is still open. The beautiful sign (left) still hangs high above the street and glimpse into the yard revealed the old brewery looks in pristine condition.
An extremely bad loss this as it was founded in 1854, a lot of history to go down the pan.
A few doors down is the object of my pilgrimage to Schesslitz, the Brauerei Drei Kronen (Three Crowns). But first, can we walk a little further along Hauptstrasse and look at this magnificent streetscape with three old inns adjacent to each other?
First is what is known as the Dillighaus. This was built in 1692 as an inn called "Zum Einhorn" (The Unicorn). It was purchased by the Dilling family in 1849 and I believe it then ceased to be an inn and become the family home.
In 1997 it reopened as a Restaurant and Café. I didn't go in but looking at their website the decor looks a bit strange. However they do serve draught beer, brewery unknown.
They are open as follows: Monday-Wednesday and Saturday 12.00-20.30; Sunday and Holidays 11.30-17.00. Thursday-Friday: Closed.
Next door is the Goldener Anker (middle in photo below) dating from 1879 when it replaced an older pub of the same name that was destroyed by fire. I had a bit of time so I paid a visit. The main reason for this was that their sign said they served beers from Hartmann of Würzau, mentioned earlier. I've never tried any, so I went in. The layout was classic with the main room being on the right of a central corridor. It is very traditional and as I ordered my beer I noticed that they also offered a Bockbier. Open: Tuesday-Sunday 09.30-24.00. Monday: Closed.
The last premises is the Schwane (see photo left). This dates from the 1600s and it has a beautiful exterior with many exposed wooden beams.
The sign outside says it serves Weismainer beers. That brewery is represented by one of their draught beers: Püls Bräu Pils. The other draught offering was Spezial Rauchbier from Bamberg. Open: Tuesday-Sunday 16.00-24.00. Monday: Closed.
I then walked back to my destination pub, the Drei Kronen. The name is common in this part of Bavaria.
It does not refer to Kings of Bavaria or Princes or anything like that. The title is of biblical origin as the crowns belong to the Three Kings. Their visit to the baby Jesus is still celebrated in these parts during the early New Year.
The history of the brewery begins when Georg Motschenbacher of this address was granted the right to brew on the town's Kommunbrauerei (Commune Brewery) in 1642. The house was destroyed by fire in 1667 and rebuilt. In 1742 it was extended and the first brewery was installed in 1749. In 1837 it was purchased by the Lindner family and their sixth generation operates it today.
It has a classic Bavarian town brewery layout. Through the wooden-gated archway the main room is to the right. On the left is another public room, presumably used when they are busy or for functions and the like. There is a table in the courtyard further down, and then you get to the brewery which is on all sides.
Interestingly there was a steady trade of take-away beer in casks and bottles in crates. People were parking outside walking down to the brewery, placing orders and then an employee would bring to the vehicle on a two-wheeled barrow. They do a good business in home deliveries for those who don't wish to come to the brewery. This is very important to the small breweries of this area and for many it is the difference between remaining in brewing or getting out.
When Linda and I with others visited in 1994 they served just one beer, a Lagerbier that could also be called a Vollbier. It was served directly from a wooden cask.
Back then the brewery produced just 500 hl per annum. The only other beer was a Bockbier for Christmas time. How things change as they introduced a Weissbier (wheat) in 1997 as the popularity of that style increased.
Now, the situation is completely different with many regular and seasonal beers. The regulars are: Schäazer Kronabier (5.1%) which is a in the Lagerbier style; Premium Pils (5.2%); Original 1837 Dunkel (dark) (5.5%) and Weissbier (wheat) (5.3%). Incidentally, Schäazer is a dialectic word for something from Schesslitz.
The brewery outputs 1,500 hl per annum, now three times more than that produced in 1994, when I last visited.
The list of seasonal beer is considerable with one being available for a long period. They are: Weizenbock (Wheat bock) (6.8%), brewed for Lent; Roggenbock (Rye bock) (5.5%), available from 23rd April to December; Kirchweihfestbier (5.5%) (Church festival beer in the Märzen style); Weinachtsfestbier (5.5%) (Christmas beer, reputed to be the same as Kirchweihfestbier); and Weinachtsbock (8.0%) (The original Christmas Bockbier).
With memories of my previous visit 20 years earlier I was heartened to see a wooden barrel at the service area. I ordered the usual Lagerbier and was quite surprised that it was a bit gassy, quite unexpected.
When the old lady that served me disappeared from view I took a closer look and discovered it was an imposter having two stainless steel taps sticking out of it. It was disappointing as I could tell the beer was fine.
I took a look around the room and thought that it was quite basically traditional. There was a Kackelofen, the traditional stove with a tiled surround. On the walls there was wooden panelling up to head height and a stained glass screen at the back of the room. A pendulum clock on the wall and cloths on the tables which have flowers in pots on them complete the picture. It possessed a genuine atmosphere.
Schesslitz is a beautiful town and is well worth the short journey out of Bamberg to visit.
Brauerei Drei Kronen, Haupstrasse 39, 96110 Schesslitz. Tel: 09542 1564
Open: Tuesday-Sunday 09.30-13.00; 17.00-23.00. Monday: Closed.
The town is served by the 968 and 969 bus routes from Bamberg which are not very frequent at all, although it is just about feasible to use them on weekdays.
There's one journey on Saturday and two on Sunday.
Update January 2020. Hours are now: Monday-Tuesday/Friday-Sunday: 09.30-13.00/17.00-23.00;