Monday 7th October 2013
The Gröninger Braukeller is the home of the Gröninger Privatbrauerei and is housed in the cellar of a very beautiful building that has survived the devastation of the bombing of Hamburg. It is located not far from the Town Hall (Rathaus) and is in the warehouse district of the old docks area.
Entering down the steps from the street the first sight is of large wooden doors with an illustration of a town crier and a message from the Bürgermeister (Mayor) inviting you into the pub.
It is said that this is the only building left in Hamburg with a Baroque exterior; the rest were destroyed during the bombardment of the city during the Second World War. Although I suspect that there were a lot of buildings in the Hanseatic / Dutch style lost during the conflict. I would think the Baroque style would be fairly rare in this part of the world, with the exception of royal palaces. In the German-speaking world it is more of a Bavarian and especially Austrian, type of architecture.
The site of the pub was known to be an inn as early as 1260 but not a lot was known about for hundreds of years. On 22nd October 1722 it was sold at public auction and during the 1750s work was started on the construction of the frontage mentioned above. It was finished in 1762. From 1793 it was extended through to the next street on the dockside.
Following the Second World War the city fathers decided that they wanted a six-lane highway running through the city from East to West. This was built and was imaginatively christened Ost-West-Strasse. To keep the effects of this road to the minimum a number of green spaces were created to provide a balance.
Over the years these have been eroded away and more old buildings have been destroyed, to be replaced by the concrete and glass we are all too familiar with.
This eyesore of a road passes by the front of the pub and is now known as Willi-Brandt-Strasse. The very small road between this and the pub was once known as Gröninger Strasse, thus providing the pub with its name.
Back inside the Gröninger Keller you enter a long room that begins with high tables made of old barrels with stools. This leads to the bar on the left. More high tables face the bar and continue past the brewery which is also on the left side of the long narrow cellar. After the brewing plant the room opens out and there is a much larger area with conventional tables. Beyond this there is a corridor and there are more rooms beyond.
This is in fact, another pub, the Brauhaus Hanseat or Groninger Brauhaus. It is a bit more basic and it has a large student clientele and often hosts large groups. On the way from one pub into the other, there is a bakery and this often provides some wonderful aromas throughout the pub.
I settled at one of the tables by the counter and perused the menu to see what beers were available.
There are normally just two offered: Gröninger Pils (5.1%) and Hanseaten Weisse. However I was lucky on this visit as there was also Goldenes Festbier "Hopfengold", an Oktoberfest bier that was the complete opposite in taste to what one would normally expect at this time of year. I had it first and thought it was excellent, possessing a nice full body, yet light in colour and quite a lot of bitterness. Then I had the Pils and it wasn't overwhelmed by the Festbier, as it was fairly bitter also; a good easy drinking beer.
This pub appears to cater to parties as quite a lot of the dishes are for groups, from 5 up to 20, which is a suckling pig (Spanferkel). At lunchtimes there is a buffet with daily specials, and I must say it looked pretty good. So there's good beer and good food, what's not to like.
Gröninger Braukeller, Willi-Brandt-Strasse 47, Hamburg 20457. Tel: 040 331 381
Open: Monday to Friday 11.00-23.00; Saturday and Holidays 17.00-23.00. Sunday: Closed.
Gröninger Brauhaus/Brauhaus Hanseat, Zippelhaus 4, Hamburg 20457. Tel: 040 331 381
Open: Tuesday-Saturday 17.00-23.00. Sunday-Monday: Closed.
This pub is at the rear of the Braukeller and looks out over the Zollkanal.
The pubs are less than five minutes from Messberg U-Bahn station which is on Line U1.