Ebensfeld, Bayern (Bavaria):
Brauerei-Gasthof Schwan (Ebensfelder Brauhaus)
Saturday 1st October 2016
I last visited this brewery and brewery-tap way back in 1990s. Yet as I walked the short distance from the newly-constructed station into the centre of this small town the memory of my previous visit came back. The route is along a small road and then on a path alongside a small stream passing an imposing church with a white-painted tower surmounted by a spire incorporating a small “onion” dome.
There were many small birds to be seen including grey wagtails and goldfinches. There are apple trees hanging over the water and near the station the fallen fruit had formed some “apple-dams”, after floating down to get stuck on rocks.
Emerging on to the main road through the town I immediately spotted the green-painted Brauerei-Gasthof Schwan to my right. I’m sure it wasn’t that colour twenty years ago!
Just across the road from the Swan were two other pubs. Both appeared to have closed, one possibly for good. Sadly, this is now a common occurrence in these parts.
In this case exacerbated by the construction of a new road along this valley avoiding the town, leading to a considerable drop-off in trade.
When I was here previously there were five consecutive railway stations that served towns or villages that between them had seven breweries. Now there are just three of these breweries left.
The small town of Ebensfeld has a long history due to its location on the Bamberg to Coburg road. There are records of a pub on this site as early as 1488. In 1634, during the Thirty Years War is was burned to the ground by Swedish mercenaries. Its rebuilding was commenced in 1643 by Georg Hofmann.
1752 is the accepted date for the founding of the brewery. It and the gasthaus (pub) became registered as a company in 1779 by Nikolaus Pabstmann.
The company passed through many hands over the years. In 1867 Michael Rittmaier established deep cellars just on the outskirts of the town for storage of beer in summer. Like many similar they morphed into a modern-day bierkeller that is open in the summer months during good weather where drinkers consume beer under the canopies of trees originally planted to shade the cellars and keep the beer cool.
The garden is known as the "Engelhardts-Keller" because in 1922 Johann Engelhardt took over the running of the brewery. He had married into Schmelzing family who had run it for the previous thirty years. The Engelhardt family are still in control.
Johann Engelhardt was very progressive and built a new brewery that opened in 1928. New cellars were laid out between 1932 and 1933 along with an improved cooling system and in 1939 created a new malt-house.
Johann Engelhardt died in 1969 but already handed over the brewery to son Karl in 1956. One of the first moves by Karl was to introduce a bottling plant as they previously hadn’t bottled their beers.
In 1961 a new brewery was built, located on the road behind the pub. The maltings were extended and new fermentation and maturation vessels were constructed in the same year.
The brewery is known as Ebensfelder Brauhaus but the pub is the Schwann. The Brauhaus title is used on all of the bottled beer labels.
Outside the pub there is a small terrace on the pavement for alfresco drinking and dining. I entered the building through the courtyard and noticed that there were more tables here with some chaotic decorations. The toilets are located off this yard and the walls are home to some lovely old enamel signs that show that it was formerly known as the Schwanen Brau.
It must be a useful area if it is hot yet raining, as sometimes happens in Bavaria! I went up a couple of steps through a door on the right. I went into the main room which is divided into two sections by a sort of metal rail. The tables, chairs, tables and fixed bench seating around the walls are all of varnished wood, very traditional! Red is the predominant colour of the tablecloths, cushions and curtains.
The far wall is decorated with stone and beyond is a further room that is quite small. The service counter was on my left when I sat down and facing it on a shelf was an old carved wood clock. This timepiece was only slightly out of synch with the parish church across the road.
Beyond the counter I could see an old cast iron wood-burning stove. All the other patrons were dining yet of course, it was no problem just to order a beer, after all it is a brewery and is open all day, every day.
There were four beers on offer: Edel Pilsener (5.1%); Fränkische Landbier (light) (4.9%); Hefeweizen (wheat) (5.3%) and Adam Riese Urtrunk Dunkel (dark) (5.6%).
I tried the Landbier and the Pils and somewhat surprisingly I preferred the former as the Pils was not that bitter although it was dry in the German Pils style. I understand they also produce some seasonal beers yet there were none when I called in.
This pub is well worth visiting as it is just around 20 minutes run from Bamberg on the train and you can get here using the excellent VGN ticket which is a bargain if there are two of you travelling. It covers all of the massive VGN area centred on Nürnberg and is valid on all local buses and trains; also the U-Bahn and trams in that city.
Brauerei-Gasthof Schwan, Hauptstrasse 46, Ebensfeld 96250. Tel: 09573 310 4061
Hours: Monday-Sunday 10.00-23.00. Food served: Monday-Sunday 11.00-21.00
The railway station is located on the main line from Bamberg to Lichtenfels.
The train service is rather complicated. There is at least one train each hour.
There is an all-stations train stopping every two hours.
The hourly Franken-Thüringen Express from Nürnberg to Sonneberg via Bamberg stops on a two-hourly cycle and the Bamberg to Hof Regional Express often stops here also.
As can be seen, you need to consult the timetable before travelling to or from this pub.
From the station exit walk along the road (Bahnhofstrasse) towards the church.
Do not go right under the tracks of the new high speed line that parallels the normal railway.
You will soon come across a bridge over the stream.
Turn right over it and then left along the path (Unterer Kellbachdamm) parallel with the stream.
Go past the church walls and up a slope to the main road (Hauptstrasse - Main Street).
There, look right. You will see the pub and the pedestrian crossing in front of it.
It should take between five and ten minutes.