Wednesday 9th April 2014
Melkendorf is an unusual village as it is at the end of the road, quite literally. Travelling the short distance from Litzendorf, the nearest town, through the pleasant agricultural landscape, you get the impression that you can keep on going past the village that is approaching, but you can't unless you've got your hiking boots on. This is because Melkendorf is surrounded on three sides by the forested hills of the Giesberger Forst.
There are two roughly parallel streets that meet at the end of the village. The bus I was on runs along the lower one, Otterbachstrasse, on which the brewery is located.
It exits the village along the upper road, Hauptstrasse, or Main Street. I had already looked at a map so knew where I was headed.
I continued along Otterbachstrasse in the same direction as the disappearing bus. Around the next bend I saw the brewery.
But now I really did get confused as I was outside the brewery but could not locate the tap. I walked along the lane by its side and there was a large 1960s built building that looked a bit like social housing, the German equivalent of council flats.
I climbed some steps, and then I saw a sign over an entrance. Up more stairs and it was very quiet. I went up another flight of stairs and through a further door and I was in the pub's main room.
Even though this is a relatively modern building there is a lot of wood used in the decoration. The service area was on the left and as I took a seat I looked around.
This room is quite large and around the corner I could see there was a further room beyond. Behind the "bar" I could see that there was a very large kitchen. It transpires that the pub is heavily used by people who like walking around the forest.
It is also a hotel and there are nine letting rooms so I could see where the potential customers would come from except that they weren't in this afternoon. The only other patron was a strange man who carried a sheaf of brochures from many other pubs and some dog-eared papers. He explored every nook and cranny of the room, staring at every picture on the wall. He didn't say a thing but he was in the next pub that I visited that day.
The village was established in 1267; a fact I find amazing considering it is located on a road to nowhere. The brewery is said to have been founded in 1540, a further surprise.
Its modern era commences in 1889 when it is purchased by Franz Holzschuh. The Winkler family claim continuity from then so Herr Holzschuh must have been closely associated with them, possibly married in to it.
I would guess that the brewery's building also dates from this time. The Winkler dynasty is still in charge of course, with Friedrich Winkler being the current owner and brewer. The brewery brews just one beer all year round and that is Vollbier (4.5%), which is offered in traditional ceramic krugs. It is a Kellerbier which I assume is unfiltered. They claim that it is brewed to the original recipe of 1889, possibly so. There is also a Festbier which is sold over the Christmas / New Year period and maybe for Lent.
The production is around 700 hl per annum which is sold in the pub and for home delivery. Another thing to note is that the menu features heavily on trout and carp (in season) and game from the forest. There is a biergarten at the back of the pub and underneath the main bar room there is a traditional skittle alley (Kugelbahn).
This is an excellent pub to visit if you are in the area and would be especially attractive to those who like outdoor pursuits, you could even stay here.
Brauerei Winkler, Otterbachstrasse 13, 96123 Melkendorf. Tel: 0950 5224
Open: Monday 16.00-23.00; Tuesday: Closed; Wednesday-Thursday 16.00-23.00;
Friday-Sunday / Holidays: 10.00-23.00; Wednesday: Closed if Tuesday is a Holiday.
The 952 bus visits Melkendorf a few times a day in the afternoon / evening on Mondays to Fridays and this suits as the pub doesn't open till 16.00. I used it and it worked well.