Altomünster, Bayern (Bavaria):
Monday 3rd October 2016
Altomünster is a classic hilltop town in Bavaria to the north west of Munich. It is to be found at the end of a meandering single track railway from Dachau.
This rural line is now part of the Munich S-Bahn system even though it normally only has one train an hour. Coincidentally, that is almost exactly the time it takes from the centre of the city.
On this occasion I travelled to Altomünster with Patrick and it was a public holiday; the Day of German Unity. This is another of those southern German towns that is blessed by having more than one brewery, two in this case.
I have been here previously, in February 2015, and successfully visited Kapplerbräu (see article in BeerVisits) but Maierbräu eluded me, as the family that run the pub were on holiday at the time.
Brewing in Altomünster goes back to at least the 15th Century. The first record was in 1496. Back then there were three breweries in the town of which one was at the monastery. The two secular operations brewed exclusively for householders to take home and were probably Kommunebrauerien (Commune breweries).
Not much more is known of the forerunner of this brewery except that it was established on this site by Hans Müller in or about 1600, known naturally as Müllerbräu. In the modern age Franz Xaver Maier of Alberzell acquired the brewery in 1886 and it became Maierbräu.
The deal came with two farms, presumably for hop and barley production and to produce meat for the pub. At the end of the 19th Century the brewery’s expansion began and many more outlets were gained.
In 1902 the brewery was taken over by son Jakob Maier. He built new cellars, for beer and storing ice, as well as a large brewing hall. From 1928 they supplied restaurants in Munich.
A new brew house was erected in 1932. 1953 saw the construction of new maltings and fermentation cellars.
The brew house was rebuilt in 1965 and its building and the equipment installed then are what we saw on our way to the brewery tap. See photograph above right that shows the main brewery buildings (background) and the brew house on the right. This picture was taken in February 2015 as on this current visit those trees were in full bloom, obstructing this view.
The modernisation continued with a new bottling plant in 1970 and in the same year they started making soft drinks. Christoph Maier joined the company in 1989 and a new kegging plant was installed. Wheat beer was brewed for the first time when he introduced Landler-Weisse.
By 1994 annual output is over 40,000 hectolitres. More than 200 customers up to 50 km away are now supplied and these are pubs, restaurants, canteens, clubs, Getränkemarkten (cheap drink supermarkets) and home deliveries. In 1997 alcohol-free beers and other drinks were made for the first time. Another fermentation vessel was added in 2000 to keep up with demand.
2008 saw their warehouse modernised. In 2009 the business was converted to a GmbH & Co. KG (Limited Stock Company) with Christoph Maier as Managing Director. A new bottle washing machine was installed in 2010. Also that year they installed a patent machine from Kaspar Schultz of Bamberg that uses up to 70% less water, known as a FlaWaMa.
The brewery’s 125th anniversary was celebrated in 2011. The Dachau to Altomünster railway line opened as a light railway in 18th December 1913 and in December 2013 Bockerl Bier was introduced in celebration of this centenary.
So, Patrick and I walked over the threshold into the pub which, incidentally was constructed in 1886, so was built as soon as Franz Xaver Maier had purchased the brewery. We entered the Bräustüberl; the main room which holds 80 drinkers and diners. As explained, this was a public holiday, and I am so glad we arrived early. We got there around 10.25 and the pub was quiet, just a few old boys at the “Stammstich” table.
Despite the tranquillity we could see it was about to change as almost every table had a “reserved” plaque on it. Nevertheless, the waitress thought she could help us and led us through a room and on to another at the rear of the pub that overlooked the brewery. Here there was a table that was not reserved, probably the only one in the house.
From the Bräustüberl we had walked through the Schützenstüberl and were now seated in the Grosses Nebenzimmer. This means large side room.
Nebenzimmer are a very common feature of country pubs here and they are rooms that are not normally open but can accommodate parties, meetings or, as was the situation today, provide tables for a large number of customers.
Notwithstanding that it is an extremely well decorated room that can host 80 patrons. Naturally, the furniture is wooden but its panelling was only around the lower parts of the walls.
Above the plastered walls had a large amount of interesting decoration and memorabilia. There were old barrel taps, old photographs of the pub and brewery along with some really nice-looking enamel brewery signs.
The first two rooms that we had walked through, the Bräustüberl and Schützenstüberl, were very traditional with dark wooden furniture and panelling to about three metres with a shelf along the top containing many more old brewery artefacts.
I had a look around the rest of the pub and found a comfy seating area in front of the reception desk that is for guests staying overnight at the pub. I also discovered another nebenzimmer that was also in use.
We were pleased to find that they served a taster tray of their six draught beers in 0.1l glasses. So we had: Export Hell (light) (4.9%); Jacobi-Pils (4.9%); Alto-Dunkel (dark) (4.9%); Zwickel (unfiltered light) (4.9%); Landler Weisse (wheat) (5.0%) and Landler-Dunkel-Weisse (dark wheat) (5.0%).
The Zwickel is only offered in this pub. Some were served a bit warm. Our favourite was the Export Hell so we then each had a half litre of that.
So, as it was, we were leaving just as it was getting busy; good move. We then went to Kapplerbrau about 100 metres up the road.
As can be seen Altomünster is a great place to visit, even if only to drink good beer away from the hordes of visitors in Munich, yet there is much more here.
Brauereigasthof Hotel Maierbräu, Marktplatz 2, 85250 Altomünster. Tel: 08254 1279
Hours: Wednesday-Monday 09.00-23.00; Tuesday: Closed
As said above, Altomünster can be reached by S-Bahn train from Munich Hbf and other central stations.
It is the terminal station of line S2. Service is hourly for most of the day, every day.
Update October 2017. Hours: Monday / Friday to Saturday: 16.00-22.00; Tuesday: Closed;
Wednesday to Thursday / Sunday: 09.00-22.00.