Saturday 19th December 2015
This ancient town is well known to tourists visiting Bavaria. It is a stop on the Romantischestrasse, the “Romantic Road”, a creation of the German Tourist authority in 1950. Based vaguely on a Roman road that ran from Würzburg to Munich, it provides a connection between some of the most beautiful towns, cities, buildings and castles to be found anywhere in the land.
The “road” goes on to Neuschwanstein, the castle in the alpine foothills constructed by King Ludwig II of Bavaria that was opened in 1892.
It so impressed Walt Disney, its image was adapted to feature in his animated films and later at the Disneyworlds and Disneylands throughout the world. Thus a route was created that visited a lot of Southern Germany’s historic sites.
On the way the “road” passes through three of the most perfectly preserved walled towns in the country. Rothenburg ob der Tauber is probably the most visited and is very busy during the warmer months. It reinvents itself during December has it hosts one of Germany’s many Christmas Markets. And that was the impetus for this visit as myself and fellow imbiber Steve were on a special steam-hauled train from Stuttgart taking us to visit the market (or not?).
The other walled towns are Nördlingen and Dinkesbühl. For my money the latter is the best with its wide streets that enable the visitor to appreciate the ancient buildings better. It also has some very good beer drinking opportunities. Nördlingen has previously been covered in BeerVisits with an article on the Brauerei-Gasthof zum Fuchs, the Anker brewery tap.
From its beginnings around the year 970 this town has continued to flourish. It grew until the first wall was erected in 1241. By now the town church had been started and the market place laid out. It was home to two monasteries and two orders of knights. An important date was 1274 when King Rudolph of Bavaria granted it and its citizens freedom from the state. They raised their own taxes and was more or less independent. Its name means Rothenburg above the Tauber (a river).
Rothenburg continued to expand outside of the second town wall and by 1430 the town and the district around it exceeded 400 sq. kms. In that year a defensive rampart was constructed around the whole area and this was the Landwehr. There were nine gates through a construction of two ditches and a wooden fence. It was also known as Landhege. There were several of these in Germany around independent towns.
They existed in the British Isles also. Offa’s Dyke separated England from Wales. Another was the Pale of Dublin that divided the English-speaking peoples from the native Irish speakers who were “beyond the Pale”. An expression still used to this day. Most of these barriers were not true defences but were more like physical expressions of territorial boundaries.
Landwehr also has another meaning and that is of home force or home guard. These were the men who defended the area should there be an incursion from outside. At the Reformation in 1544 the town changed faith from Catholicism to Protestantism of the Lutheran creed. As is was adjacent to Bavaria this led to Rothenburg being sacked several times during the Thirty Years War.
Despite this, it remained independent until 1802. This was during the Napoleonic Wars and in 1803 it was absorbed into Bavaria. A similar fate befell all of the small towns and city states including those that were under the Austrian crown, of which there were many.
A final adjustment was made in 1810 when areas within the Landwehr that were west of the River Tauber became part of the province of Wüttemburg.
It started attracting tourists after 1873 when it was connected to the railway network. During the Second World War parts of the town were destroyed by American bombing. These have all been rebuilt to be identical to as they were originally.
On this day with Steve we walked from the central car park through a gate in the town wall. We were there after arriving on a charter bus from the railway junction of Steinach. This was run in conjunction with a steam-hauled special train from Stuttgart.
As sometimes happens I wasn’t walking well that day especially on the cobblestones among the crowds, so needed to stop for a while.
Shortly after making that decision, the Landwehr Bräu am Türm Brauereiausschank came into view. It translates as Brewery tap of the Landwehr Brewery at the Tower. The tower in question can be seen in the background of the first photograph.
Steve had one beer and set off round the town for a while. He visited a brew-pub in the Hotel Markusturm whose beer is Türmbräu (see article in BeerVisits) which seems like a beautiful place to stay. He also told me he had an encounter with a giant sausage!
The Brauerei Landwehr is actually in the village of Reichelshofen near the town of Steinfels. It is around six kilometres north of Rothenburg on the old post road to Würzburg and is the main brewery tap. This is a restaurant, also a hotel and is yet another filed away for a potential visit. The brewery was founded in 1755. It passed through many ownerships until acquired by the Wörner family in 1913 as it is to this day.
This is a small pub and once up the few stone steps we turned left to the bar counter which had some stools. Looking around I could see that this was one room with the entrance being in the right-hand room. Both rooms had wood panelling to about head height. Above there were cream-coloured walls up to the very low ceilings. This were covered with a large collection of old metal brewery advertising signs.
The tables were of polished dark wood and seating had green fitted soft cushioning. On one side of the bar counter there was a four wooden shelve affixed to the wall that contained lots of ceramic krugs. No doubt they were owned by regulars.
Near the front window there was a clock in the style of those found on town halls. It didn’t work but obviously the men either side of the timepiece would animated at a certain time and the one on the right would start drinking from his mug.
The building of the pub is obviously very old and almost unbelievably I cannot find out how ancient it really is. You would have thought that an easy task in such a well-documented and historic town, but my research hasn’t turned up a thing.
I believe its ownership by Brauerei Landwehr to be fairly recent. Probably an attempt to have its own outlet in this much-visited town. Whether it was an earlier pub, I just don’t know.
What I do know is that it is a good place to sample draught Landwehr beers and during my two and a half hour’s stay I sampled all four on offer. These were Pils (4.9%), Rotfränkisch (4.8%), Hell (4.7%) and Kellerbier (4.7%).
I started with Hell, their standard light beer. It was a little more bitter than those from Munich. Then I went for a Pils which was also very good with medium bitterness. Please note Landwehr do not brew wheat beer. This pub offers a good selection from Gutmann of Titting, near Ingolstadt, a wheat beer-only brewery.
When Steve returned from his travels we both had the Kellerbier, which must be an unfiltered version of the Hell. The name of this style of beer implies that it’s in cellar condition before it is filtered; it’s also known as Zwickelbier, we both liked it.
Steve had another Kellerbier and I ended with Rotfränkisch, which is a brown rather than red coloured beer. It is said to be replication of an old type of beer from Middle Franconia, where we were. I liked it as it had a good balance between the dark malts and hops.
The pub offers a limited menu and some customers were eating whilst we were there.
Please note that opening hours are a bit limited. This is a normal pub in a slightly abnormal town. The draught beers are cheap so I would think that it is the ideal antidote to the hustle and bustle outside. It also has a small biergarten for the warmer months.
Landwehr Bräu am Türm, Spitalgasse 1 91541, Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Tel: 09861 8755353
Open: Tuesday-Friday 17.00-24.00; Saturday 15.00-01.00; Sunday 15.00-23.00
From the Market square, which is the centre of the town, walk south along Untere Schmiedgasse. Go through the arch of the tower; the pub is on the left.
From the railway station turn left into Bahnhofstrasse. At the road intersection take Ansbacherstrasse towards the town centre. At the town wall go through the arch and immediately turn left in Rödershutt.
At the end go through the tower; the pub is on the left.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber station is at the end of a branch line. The trains are hourly and start at Neustadt (Aisch) which is on the main line from Würzburg to Nürnberg. At Steinach these trains cross the line from Würzburg to Ansbach.