Braumanufaktur at Forsthaus Templin
Sunday 6th October 2013
As I travelled towards this pub on the bus I couldn't help thinking that the road was a very tangible reminder of the communist DDR. To explain; it is completely concrete and is formed of squares that have been cast in place. Not one is level with the next; it is a typical production of that era and provides a very bumpy ride!
The bus stops right outside the Forsthaus which, true to its name, really is in a forest. I entered through a thatched arch. It was one of those days on which the clouds have come down to ground level and everything is damp, yet it hasn't rained.
I stopped and admired the thirst-relief truck that they use for outside events. The former fire truck is an Opel Blitz built in 1960. The strange words on the outside begin with the transliteration of the sound of the siren followed by:"the beer is here".
There is a large biergarten at the front that was not surprisingly, completely deserted.
I entered and found the main room to be quite large and it seemed very comfortable. To the right of the door the room was entirely composed of groups of tables. To the left is the long bar with stools and tables facing and in the far left corner is the brewery on two levels. This looks older than it really is.
The Forsthaus has been a pub since 1834; it was a residence before that. It has been rebuilt a few times. Its heyday was between the wars when its biergarten held 4,000 patrons, and there were three jetties for steamships on the Templiner See. I should explain that the shore of this lake is not far away, out of sight. It is one of the network of lakes that surround Potsdam that are all part of the Havel river system.
The decor of the pub reflects the location in the forest with animal heads and antlers. I thought the best was the head of a giant wild boar.
I have always wondered how big a male like this really is. Well, I now know, as a few days earlier in Poland, I saw a massive boar running away, startled by the train I was travelling on. He was huge and I can still remember the sight of its ears flapping as he trundled away from the railway line, as fast as he could.
The furniture in the pub is wooden yet comfortable. There were some advertisements on the walls promoting the Potsdam Brewery during the DDR period. The clue is the initials VEB (Volkseigener Betrieb) which means it was a people's owned (read State owned) organisation i.e. compulsorily nationalised. This particular brewery survived to be privatised in 1990 and brewed Rex Pils, which was well thought of. It has now closed although the beer is still produced by the Schultheiss brewery in Berlin, the last major brewer in the city.
A small digression here as I would like to mention the nearby railway embankment across the Templiner See. The footpath that runs alongside is a way to get to the pub, see below. It was constructed between 1955 and 1958 as part of the Ring-Bahn (Ring Railway) that the communist authorities built to circumnavigate Berlin. It was completed in 1960. Why is it important? Well, this railway enabled all parts of East Berlin to be accessed without the need to travel through West Berlin. Once this was done, it laid the way for the Berlin Wall to be built, which it was in 1961.
During the DDR period the pub was still popular and it was converted to self-service operation; more equal I suppose! It was privatised on the fall of communism but didn't do too well and closed in 1997.
The present management took over in 2003 and the pub reopened with its brewery on 6th December of that year. Since then it has done well with many visitors and also in distributing their bottled beers.
The beers are all unfiltered and certified organic, the only brewery in the Berlin area and Brandenburg that is able to claim this. There are three regular beers:
Hell (Light Lager) (4.8%)
Dunkel (Dark Lager) (4.8%)
Potsdamer Stange (4.8%)
The later is named after the tall thin glass it is served in and is a speciality of Potsdam. It's an amber lager.
There are several other seasonal beers, as follows:
Märzen (5.4%), Maibock (6.5%), Weizen (4.8%), Spiruling Bräu (4.8%), Berliner Weisse (3.0%), Entebock (6.5%), Nikolator (6.5%), Winterbock (6.5%) and Werdershes (4.8%).
In addition to the three regulars there was also Berliner Weisse and Entebock available. I had the Hell, Dunkel and Entebock; this is what I thought.
Hell: a really good example with a lovely clean taste; Dunkel: a nice example of the style that I would have again; Entebock had an intense bock taste, not really to my taste, but aficionados of the style will love it.
They also make certified organic apple juice and distil bierschnapps in both organic and normal versions. The food here is solid German country cooking with game being a natural ingredient given the pub's location, yet there a few vegetarian dishes. This is a highly recommended pub.
Forsthaus Templin, Templiner Strasse, Potsdam-Templiner Vorstadt. Tel: 033209 21 79 79
Open: Summer: Sunday-Thursday 11.00-22.00; Friday-Saturday 11.00-23.00
Winter: Mid-October, November, January to March
Monday-Tuesday: 11.00-16.00; Wednesday-Sunday: 11.00-22.00
As far as I can see there are three ways to get from Central Potsdam. These are:
Easiest: Bus 607 from the Central station (Hauptbahnhof) runs every hour or so, till late, seven days a week.
Healthiest: Walk all the way from Potsdam along the bumpy road. Or, walk from Pirschheide station. Come out of the station and follow the signs to the Fussweg Bahndamm Templin. Cross the embankment and when arrived on the road on the opposite bank turn right and keep walking until you see the pub on the left. Said to take 35 minutes.
Prettiest: Catch the ferry or water taxi (wassertaxi) from Potsdam Lange Brücke to the Forsthaus jetty. Go to www.schiffarht-in-potsdam.de for more details.