Friday 11h April 2014
Feldschlösschen is a large regional brewery based in Dresden. In its signage and promotional material it is normally spelt Feldschlößchen using the esszett letter. It may be thought a strange subject for a BeerVisits article as it is one of the big boys but it is here for a reason. The Stammhaus is a beautiful pub-restaurant created out of their old brewery and the range of beers found here is greater than in other pubs.
The brewery started out with modest beginnings and the story starts out in 1644 with Elector Johann Georg 1 granting the privilege to sell beer and wine to Anna Nehlin on her farm at Hahnemann, south of the city. In 1684 a castle was built in an adjacent field by Dietrich von Bosse. So it was logical that the pub used this as its name, thus castle in the field. They were, of course, brewing their own beer.
By 1730 the pub was extremely popular with visitors from the city and boasted a dance hall, bowling alley and extensive gardens. The castle was more of a country house than the real thing but that still didn't stop it being destroyed in 1813 during the Battle of Dresden. However it was rebuilt with completion in 1819. By this time the pub and brewery were taken over by Leonhard Meisel.
The modern age began when he moved to Budapester Strasse in the Südvorstadt district of Dresden. A brewery opened there in 1838 and in 1858 it become a public company known as Aktienbrauerei zum Feldschlösschen.
A new brewery was completed in the same year on the site to deal with the large number of pubs now taking their beers. This is the former brewery that I was visiting. An interesting fact is that Dresden once had the third highest amount of beer production after Munich and Berlin.
During the last World War the brewery was 55% damaged by the intensive bombing but was able to reopen in 1945. This is fortuitous as most of the city was flattened with massive loss of life.
As is well known, Germany was divided after the Second World War and Dresden was in the zone administered by the Soviet Union. In 1949 the DDR was founded. It is the German Democratic Republic in English and democratic it most certainly wasn't.
A program of nationalisation commenced yet it wasn't until 1960 that Feldschlösschen became a VEB (Volkseigener Betrieb). This is where a company becomes the property of the state or as they liked to tell you, the people. Imposed managers were installed and a Communist Party official would be included and they held a large amount of power. The structure was the same irrespective of the type of business and naturally, it didn't work.
By the 1970s the original equipment was wearing out and the decision was made to relocate the brewery. Building work commenced in 1973 yet it didn't start production until 1981. This long period of time was not unusual in inefficient communist countries. It was located in the Dresden suburb of Coschütz and had a design capacity of 1,300,000 hl. per annum. This has now been increased to 1,800,000 hl.
During the period of the DDR, breweries were placed into groups and in 1983 Feldschlösschen became part of the VE Getränkekombinates Dresden along with the Brauerei Döhlen-Freital (once Brauerei Hermann Gerlach & Sohn) and the Brauerei Felsenkeller. I used to pass the latter brewery often as the railway ran past its classic buildings.
After re-unification in 1990 this group was renamed Sächsische Brau-Union (Saxon Breweries Group). Sadly it was too late for the Freital and Felsenkeller breweries which both closed in 1991. However there are still tangible memories of them as Feldschlösschen brew beers under their names supposedly to the original recipes. Brauerei Holsten bought the brewery in 1992 and in turn they were absorbed into the Carlsberg group during 2003.
The original 1858 brewery opened as the Feldschlösschen Stammhaus in 1998 and quickly established itself as a place to visit. When I called in I turned right into the large room that was once the brewing hall and there is a considerable amount of the old equipment on view. The "roof" of the serving area and bar are covered by the top of the old copper, or is it the mash-tun? Opposite this is the old control panel, still illuminated.
There is a balcony around the room reached by spiral stairs and on the opposite side of the entrance was another bar, which wasn't open. Another thing that wasn't open was the Biergarten as customers tried the door but couldn't get out. It was a nice day for early April, but I suppose there weren't enough staff to serve it. I realised later that the tower houses a museum of the brewery. I would have liked to have visited it.
I perused the beer menu and it consisted of the following draught beers:
Feldschlösschen Pilsner (4.9%), an innocuous Pils.
Zwickelbier (5.4%), an unfiltered beer that is a bit sweet.
Dresden Felsenkeller Pils (4.8%), slightly more bitterness than the earlier Pils. It's said to be a reproduction of the most popular beer of the old Felsenkeller brewery, closed 1991.
Duckstein (4.9%), a beer brewed in most of Carlsberg's German breweries. Supposedly matured over beech wood, it's a sweet light brown beer that's totally forgettable.
Schwarzer Steiger (5.0%) is a Dunkel (dark) beer heavy on malt and little bitterness. It was first developed by the Brauerei Döhlen Freital before it closed in 1991.
They also serve Erdinger Weissbier (5.3%).
However, I have saved the best till last as they were promoting a Maibock (7.2%) on draught and in bottle. I had a small glass and loved it. It's not normally a favourite style but this one was so complex and seemed to have every beer flavour contained within one glass; superb!
Although it might not be on your radar it is nevertheless worth visiting for the good atmosphere, decor and some of the beers.
Feldschlösschen Stammhaus, Budapester Strasse 32, 01069 Dresden-Südvorstadt
Tel: 0351 4718855
Open: Monday-Sunday 11.00-01.00
The 62 bus is very frequent and runs from the heart of the Altstadt (Old Town) past Rathaus Platz (City Hall square). On weekdays it is every 10 minutes, less frequent at weekends and at night. Alight at the stop named Agentur für Arbeit. You can't miss the pub.
It is possible to intercept this bus route in many places.