Saturday 12th April 2014
As might be concluded from its name, this pub brewery is located in an old railway station. The Bavarian station in the city of Leipzig handled its first train in 1842 after a fourteen month construction period, when it opened as far as Altenburg. The rather magnificent station buildings handled their first passengers in 1844 and were designed by local architect Christian August Eduard Pötzsch. We are lucky that a substantial amount of the station has survived, including the beautiful portico arches.
However, things weren't going well further down the line as construction ground to a halt in 1847. This was because of an underestimation of costs involved in building the many bridges through the Vogtland region of southern Saxony. The bankruptcy was cleared by the Elector (King) of Saxony who considered the line of such importance he wouldn't let it fail.
Work recommenced and eventually the line reached Bavaria at Hof. This of course then connected Leipzig to the south.
In 1875 the station dealt with 1,000,000 passengers for the first time, mostly travelling to Bavaria, Austria and Italy and the numbers continued to rise. This was all to finish in 1912 when Leipzig Hauptbahnhof (main station) opened. At the time it was the largest station in Europe.
The rebuilt Roma Termini open in the 1960s and this is said to be the new holder of this title. However, having been to both, I think Leipzig was the bigger for many more years after, although I have to say it has lost a number of platforms in recent years.
After the brand new station opened the Bayerischer Bahnhof settled down to a rather humdrum existence dealing with mainly commuters and schoolchildren travelling into that side of the Leipzig city centre. It was bombed in 1944 and considerable damage was done.
I arrived there once in the early 1970s, steam-hauled of course. It was a dreary foggy morning and this didn't help the general feeling of overwhelming decrepitude that pervaded it.
The platforms were partially constructed of wooden planks and these were also used to support the crumbling station buildings. I exited through a covered wooden tunnel which was the only shelter when it rained. On my way to the tram stop I did notice the archway that the locomotive ran through on its way to the other end of the train. I must admit I never thought it would look the way it does today.
The brew pub has been open since 2000 and is the brainchild of Thomas Schneider. It occupies the administrative buildings on the original departures side of the station. The biggest development since it opened its doors was the reopening of the Bayerischer Bahnhof to passenger trains again. Not on the present location but underneath it!
The new Leipzig North-South rail tunnel was started in 2003 and ten years later it opened on 15th December 2013, just four months before I used it to get here. It connects suburban (S-Bahn) lines radiating from the north of the city with those to the south and provides an every five minutes interval service from the Hauptbahnhof (main station) through two new city centre stations to Bayerischer Bahnhof and beyond.
As I emerged from the new station I could see that the door used on my previous visit to enter the brew pub was inaccessible by continuing building works, so I had to walk round the roads to the biergarten at the side of the pub.
It was a pleasant day for the time of year and I briefly dallied with the thought of lingering there but nevertheless went in to the pub as there was much of interest to see. The biergarten here is very nice though, shaded by Plane trees and accommodating 400 drinkers. The door from the garden enters into what the pub calls the Arcaden (Arcade) that is a newly built section with large glass windows connecting the two restored buildings.
On my right was the brewery itself and further along were the kitchens in the Schalterhalle (Old Ticket Office and Ticket Hall). There were tables all around me so I turned left and went past the bar to what would normally be the main entrance. There I found a tall table and settled. There were many of these tables and the bar has plenty of stools so the casual drinker is well catered for.
Opposite my table I observed an old railway wagon on a higher level which contained a table and seats for five. Nobody was using it but every now and then groups of kids would explore it.
I went a look around and walked to a large room named Gosestube with large tables, according to the pub this was the former ticket office yet there is a Schalterhalle at the other end of the complex. I would suggest that even they don't know what it was.
Beyond this room is another called Schalander (tasting room). The area around the brewery equipment is the Brausiederei.
Right, that's enough about the pub, so what about the beers?
The speciality of the house is Gose (4.5%) which is brewed with top-fermenting yeast. This is an old beer style once popular in Leipzig. It's a sour beer like Berliner Weiss and is said to have been introduced in to Saxony in 1738 from the town of Goslar, which is reflected in its name. I think it's no coincidence that the famous Belgian sour beer, Gueuze, has a very similar name yet Goslar is not recognised as the origin of it. Here it is brewed with lactic acid, coriander and salt. I had a small glass as my first beer here and thought that it didn't possess the intensity of sourness that I expected, although it was a likable beer.
The other beers have titles reflecting jobs on the railway, so there was Schaffner (Conductor) (5.0%) which is the standard unfiltered light beer that I thought was fine. Also, there is Heizer (Fireman) (5.3%), a sweet dark beer which is actually all right.
The last of the regulars was Kuppler (literally Coupler, really Shunter) (5.2%) a top-fermented dark wheat beer which I passed on.
There was actually one more beer to try and this was a seasonal offering. I thought I would have to pass on Fastenbier (8.2%) literally Fasting Beer, for Lent of course. However I noticed it could be purchased in a 0.1 litre glass for €1 so I did precisely that. It was a wheat doppel-bock yet I couldn't detect any wheat malt in it, although it was amazingly intense and had some bitterness; I liked it a lot.
This is a lovely pub with good beer in a historic building, what is there not to like?
Bayerischer Bahnhof, Bayerischer Platz 1, 04103 Leipzig. Tel: 0341 124 5760
With the new station at Bayerischer Bahnhof now open this is the best way to reach the pub. However, there is a tram stop at Bayrischer Platz served by route 16 and a bus stop of the same name served by route 60.