Sunday 6th October 2013
As is to be expected in Potsdam, this is a brewery in a location with a lot of history. Once upon a time, a palace was built on the orders of King Friedrich-Wilhelm II of the Prussian royal family, Hohenzollern, in the park called Neuen Garten (New Garden). It was known as the Marmorpalais and was built between 1787 and 1797 and served the Prussian royalty until the early 20th century.
It was in 1912 that Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany decided that it was inadequate for the royal family's needs. I do wonder at what point a palace becomes "inadequate". So he made the obvious step and ordered the building of a newer, bigger and better one. It was eventually finished in 1917, just in time to witness the end of the German monarchy! It was named Schloss Cecilienhof, and was surprisingly built in the English Tudor style. So it had certain similarities in outside appearance with Hampton Court Palace, a genuine exponent of the style.
The name came about because the main residents were Crown Prince Wilhelm and his wife Duchess Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. After the Great War he went into exile but eventually returned as a private citizen. They remained in the palace until the Russians were almost at the door in 1945, when they fled.
Its most well known subsequent use was between 17th July and 2nd August of the same year when it played host to the Potsdam Conference when Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin met to draw up the post war map of Europe. (Geographically, yet also politically, as it transpired shortly afterwards.)
The Soviets used it after and it was returned to the state of Brandenburg in 1952. The East German government used it for receptions and in 1960 part of it become a hotel.
Nowadays it is used as a museum and the rest is still a hotel. From 1990 it has been a UNESCO World Heritage site. Queen Elizabeth II visited on 3rd November 2004. Obviously a bit of delayed family business, no doubt? Whilst she was there Prince Phillip absented himself and went somewhere else, see below.
Back in the 19th century a dairy and pumping station was established by the palace on the shore of the Jungfernsee. This was extended in 1880 and in 1928 was converted into a restaurant. It was damaged by bombs on 25th July 1944 and after 1945 it was occupied by Soviet forces that caused further damage. It remained derelict until 27th June 2003 when it opened as a brewery-restaurant.
I walked from the bus stop and entered the gate for the Palace but soon turned left and down to pub which is in a glorious location on the shore of the lake.
For an industrial building it is certainly very handsome. I went on to the terrace and noticed that the bit in front of the restaurant was waiter serviced. Further along there was a larger, self-service area.
Before I entered the pub I noticed a steam boat creeping silently towards the pub, it was a surreal and serene moment as it got close, then turned and headed back towards where it had come from. It is called Gustav and is available for charter.
Once inside I took a stool at the bar and looked around the restaurant. It was extremely busy with people waiting for a seat. After all, it was Sunday lunchtime and they offer a full menu. There were several interconnecting rooms and I don't believe I observed the whole pub. I looked around but I couldn't see the brewery, I later found it when I went to use the facilities on the first floor.
There were three beers on offer: Hell (4.8%) (Light Lager); Herbstbock (6.8%) (Autumn Bock beer) and Weisse, Berliner Art (4.8%) (This was a stronger version of the classic Berlin sour wheat beer). I passed on the latter but had the other two. My notes tell me that the Hell was very light and unfiltered but very easy drinking. The Herbstbock I found to be a very complex beer with a wonderfully dark taste, yet a little thin in body.
Whilst I was enjoying these beers I couldn't help observe on the pub's notice board that there was a photograph of a very well known member of royalty visiting the pub. It was the day Queen Elizabeth II visited the Cecilienhof Palace, so I think her husband sneaked off for a quick beer.
There is a letter on the board from his Private Secretary, Sir Miles Hunt-Davies; that reads as follows:
"Dear Herr Solkovski,
The Duke of Edinburgh has asked me to write and thank you very much for the beer which was given to him during his visit to the Brewery earlier this month. His Royal Highness was most grateful for the opportunity to taste the beer, which he enjoyed enormously. Prince Philip has asked me to pass on his thanks and best wishes to everyone at the Brewery for making his visit such a success."
So there you have it, he likes a good beer!
I think this pub is another contender for the fictitious "Most beautiful pub in the world" award. I could have gone outside and sat on that terrace for a very long time looking at the lake and drinking beer.
Meierei, Am Neuen Garten 10, Potsdam-Nauener-Vorstadt. Tel: 0331 7043211
Open: Monday-Saturday 10.00-23.00; Sunday 10.00-22.00
Probably the best way to get here is to catch the 603 bus from the Hauptbahnhof
(Main railway station) to the Höhenstrasse stop. It runs every 20 minutes through most
of the day. The alternative to this is to arrive by water. Catch the ferry or water taxi (wassertaxi) from Potsdam Lange Brücke to the Cecilienhof jetty.
Go to www.schiffaht-in-potsdam.de for more details.