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Nurnberg and Windischeschenbach 2011

Travellers
PV, ROC, MG, KOC, FN, TM, JA, PC and RN

30 September to 4 October
The trip was slightly earlier this year so that we could take in the annual reunification celebrations in Neuhaus, one of the few towns left in the Oberpfalz region which continue with the old tradition of communal brewing. A number of families in the town have the right to brew beer in the communal brewhouse and then sell it from their homes, taking turns to open over a weekend to do so. In Neuhaus generally only one brewhouse opens each weekend but on 3 October each year all seven are open. Well……..it just had to be done.

Friday
There was a slight chill in the air as the main body of Mengo gathered on North Camp station for the 4:57 am train to Gatwick. For once Network Rail did not let us down and the outward travel plans worked extremely well. Meeting up with JA at Nurnberg airport, Mengo were booked into the A&O Nurnberger Hauptbahnhof (Bahnhofstrasse 13-15 Mitte) by midday.
In need of refreshment we headed into the city centre and stopped off to try an old friend. The Andechs outlet at the Hotel Deutscher Kaiser may now be known as Das Wirthaus (Konigstrasse 55) but it still sells the monastery’s well respected beers. After the rigours of air-travel (and in one case naked fear) the group relaxed under the sun shades enjoying a couple of glasses and readying themselves for the beer trials ahead.
Still it is not all about beer and, refreshed, we headed further into the centre for a cultural tour of the city. Nurnberg is full of medieval buildings, some of which have been carefully reconstructed after war damage, and they looked particularly picturesque in the bright sunshine as we crossed the Pegnitz and headed up the hill to the Kaiserburg.
A recommended bar, Hutt’n, was on the way but closed until late afternoon, so we stopped off instead at the Braustuberl Schwarzer Bauer (Bergstrasse 19), home of the Hausbrauerei Altstadthof. The brewery complex not only holds the brewery and Braustuberl but also has a restaurant, beer garden, bakery and brewery products shop. The Helles was well received but their standout beer was the Nurnberger special, Rotbier – red beer.
A little further up the hill, just inside the city walls, is Tiergartnertor, a pretty square overlooked by the castle ramparts. Here you can enjoy a wider taste of Bavaria at the Schlenkerla-Schranke (Beim Tiergartnertor 3). Allowed to use the name of the famous Bamberg pub it naturally sells the Heller Rauchbier Marzen (which a few brave souls enjoyed) but more refreshing was the Munchener Augustiner’s Edelstoff – two truly world class beers. The small pub was empty – everyone was enjoying al fresco drinking on the hedged off pavement.
Reaching the centre again, we boarded the U1 at Lorenzer Platz bound for Klinikum and the start of the serious beer tour. Das Wirtshaus Hexenhausle (Friedrich-Ebert-Strasse 100) is the Furth outpost of the Landbierparadies (Country Beer Paradise) Nurnberg chain of pubs which specialise in selling the beer of small Franconian breweries. Each of the five outlets has at least one forever changing draught beer available from the barrel along with a wide range of bottled beers. Still a pleasant early evening, the beer garden was busy but we settled in the undistinguished interior. The draught offering when we arrived was Lowenbrau and it must be said this sample of the Kellerbier was much better received than at the Bier Garten in Buttenheim. Then for a few senseless, carefree moments we all enjoyed selecting different bottled beers before reverting back to draught (Honig from Tiefenellern) when the barrel was changed. We must have been there sometime as a new barrel appeared (Kraus from Hirschaid) just as we left for bed.

Saturday
The Chinese had arrived in force at the A&O Nurnberg – some 400 of them for a sort of religious convention. The foyer was now their meeting place and the breakfast room off-limits to Westerners. Our breakfast was in the Sky Bar which as the name suggests was at the top of the building. With the lifts dominated by the hotel’s eastern guests it was an early morning workout on the stairs – even more so if you had to return to the foyer because you had forgotten to buy the required token before heading for the sixth floor.
After negotiating the ticket machine and purchasing our Bayern tickets we boarded the two car diesel multiple unit and headed for the country and our first destination of the day, Hedersdorf. After a bit of faffing about and guidance from a local we located Brauerei Kanone (Bruckenstrasse 1a) in a large warehouse by the railway tracks. There is no brewery tap but the lady in the office was quite happy to supply some bottled beer at €1 a pop. Standing about outside the office was perhaps not the most conducive to beer tasting enjoyment but it was a glorious day and the beer was refreshing. MG was particularly happy as the brewery logo was exactly the same as Arsenal’s and being established in 1886 they were about the same age.
Suitably revived, it was time to head for the hills and an appointment with a brewery tour. Ruth had mentioned that the 4 km walk to Enzenreuth was up hill but despite being forewarned we were not really prepared for the unremitting slog up a 1 in 5 gradient in 30 heat and we soon became strung out on the wooded road. The relief at arriving at the turnoff to the village was short lived as the road got even steeper. Eventually the sweaty band gained the top of the hill and our goal – Brauerei Enzensteiner (Enzenreuth 8) to be greeted by the owner, Martin Kress.
Settling in the shade by the servery we ordered a round of Helles and waited for someone to come looking for a tour group. After a while when no one seemed interested we laid the Email confirmation before Martin – it was obvious he had completely forgotten a tour had been booked! He swiftly recovered and went in search of his English speaker. The tour was mustard, well at least the name of our guide was. Senf firstly showed us the mini copper in the restaurant used for small festival brews before taking us into one of the old farmhouse buildings where the main brewing plant produces 500 hl per annum. The tour was short, sharp and to the point – just as we like them. In addition to brewing and running the pub, Martin also runs KKB Bavarian Beer Export supplying 5 litre tins as far as China. Back in the servery shade we watched the Gastatte slowly fill with cyclists while enjoying the Dunkel and a plate of sausage and potatoes.
All too soon it was time to leave but at least it was downhill. As we were now heading for the Schnaittach Markt station the route was by way marked footpaths and some discussion ensued on which one to take – eventually we decided to follow the Japanese flag. It proved to be the right one as leaving the woods we were greeted with lovely views over the Schnaittach valley.
Although there is another brewery in Schnaittach (Schaffer-Brau), as it was already mid-afternoon (and hitting 33) we decided to give it a miss and head for Rollhofen.
The walk from the station was fortunately only 1 km as on arrival the Braustuble Wolfshohe (Wolfshohe 3, Neunkirken-Wolfshohe) was closed. This error could not be laid at the tour guide as the pub had only recently changed hands and the new owners were sprucing it up before reopening on 26 October. With no bar that we could find in the small village of Rollhofen it was just a matter of waiting in the heat for the next train. At least it gave TM time to write up his notes.
Lauf boasts two breweries but the larger has no recommended outlet. Dreykorn Brau is apparently widely available but the one place we saw it advertised – Gasthof Wilder Mann (Marktplatz 21) – turned out to be a hotel and firmly closed to the likes of us.
By now the troops were getting restless and beer was urgently required. Any beer, even Kulmbacher, and luckily this was available next door in the Gasthof Weisses Lamm (Markplatz 19). The beer wasn’t bad but the setting, sitting under massive shades on the sunny side of the gated market square made up for any disappointment in taste. We even had some light entertainment from the man on the lying down bike.
The recommended outlet for Lauf’s other brewery, Weissebierbrauerei Simon is surprisingly an Italian restaurant. La Trattoria da Carmelo (Faulkner Strasse 2), located in a side street off the main square, turned out to be a comfortable and pleasant place to have a beer. The beer from Franconia’s last surviving wheat beer only brewery meet with ROC’s approval although MG thought it might be better when it cleared.
Despite some directions from the barmaid to a Dreykorn outlet, in the end we just made do with walking past the brewery on the way back to the railway station.
Back in Nurnberg we headed through the centre and up the hill to Hutt’n (Burgstrasse 19). The place was heaving and we found it impossible to find any space large enough to accommodate us all and ended up dotted about the bar. The restricted space also meant we left the beer ordering to the tallest member. What turned up was perfectly drinkable if a bit gassy. As the evening wore on, the pub slowly emptied and we were able to settle at a table together and scrutinise the excellent beer list. The guest beer Reichthold Kellerbier was exceptionally nice. We had obviously eventually got a result as KOC was getting loud, TM was dropping off and ROC was getting thirsty. Conversation had also reached total bollocks point as the main question was whose brain was bigger, TM or a pumpkin?
Time to go and most of the group headed back towards the hotel. However, ROC was still thirsty and persuaded PV a nightcap at the Schwarzer Bauer was in order.
Just the two of them occupied same large table used by Mengo on Friday. Seeing the under use, a group of Germans asked if they could take the place of the missing Mengo members. They turned out to be a two family gathering out on the town and quite interested in what brought Mengo to Nurnberg. Shown the days itinerary the Asuius’s and Niesse’s were suitably impressed and insisted we were included in their round of schnapps. This really was enough even for ROC and after a quick chat with Neil and Bob (Nelly’s Tours had arrived) we wound our way back to the hotel.
It seems others did not head straight back either – KOC and PC indulged in some folk dancing and face painting while unnamed members failed to gain entry to a disco.

Sunday
This was the day Mengo and Nelly’s Tour joined forces for a riverboat trip down the Danube – or, as we were in Germany, the Donau. The party, now numbering 15 met up at the station and headed for the Munich train. We really should have known better than to travel on this line on a national holiday which also coincided with the final weekend of Oktoberfest! Fifteen minutes before departure, the train was already packed with festival goers, mainly dressed in traditional Bavarian costume. Only one Mengo managed to get a seat for the hour journey to Regensburg.
And yet the uncomfortable ride would have been acceptable if the train had managed to keep to its schedule. Regrettably the crowding meant that at stops it took longer than normal for travellers to get on and off and we arrived fifteen minutes late - late enough to miss our connection to Saal. With nearly an hour to wait before the next train the group decamped to the station foyer – some going for the local Bischofshof beer whereas others just had coffee.
Running an hour late, the next problem was the lack of a bus connection at Saal for Kelheim. Wandering about in the 30 heat our only hope of getting back on track was to order taxis. The station advert for Lindl Taxi promised vehicles from 4 to 16 seats and a phone call thankfully proved the truth of the words. Soon a minibus arrived and for €3 each took us to the landing stage at Kelheim.
Despite the holiday crowds, tickets were obtained and the whole group made the next boat. The forty minute river trip allowed plenty of time to try a gassy Bischofshof Weltenburger Hell while enjoying the gorgeous scenery.
Arriving at Kloster Weltenburg (Asamstrasse 32) it would seem that those Germans who had not bothered to visit the Oktoberfest had decided on a river cruise to an old monastery. The place was heaving and there were few seats to be had inside or out of the Schenke; certainly not enough for our combined party. There was nothing for it but to grab the first four seats which became available with the rest lining up on the substitutes bench waiting for more seats to become available nearby. Eventually everyone was seated on two adjoining tables. Not surprisingly service was a little slow but we did manage to try a couple of the beers before the crowds and heat (it was over 34 degrees in the courtyard) got to us and we headed for the river and the queue for a return boat. If we thought the throng at Kelheim was bad it was nothing to the crowd which greeted us. Suffice to say bladders were strained by the time we had got on the third boat to turn up.
Back in Kelheim we decided we had time for a swift one at the Weisses Brauhaus (Emil-Ott Strasse 3) – the brewery tap for the world famous Schneider. Located beside the brewery the tap was a large complex with Braustubl, restaurant and beer garden. We settled in the garden and despite there being five draught beers on offer, PV managed to order a bottled beer for Mengo to try. Luckily it was the rare Aventinus; the top of the range 8.2% Dunkel.
At Regensburg, Nelly Tours continued on to Nurnberg but, having come this far, Mengo made a stopover to take in one of the city’s five breweries and get something to eat. Kneitinger am Arnulfsplatz (Arnulfsplatz 3) turned out to be just the place. The beer was well liked and, despite a mix up of our own making (MG wanted a snitzel but took TM’s meal, JA took the snitzel thinking it was turkey and TM ended up with JA’s meal), so was the food. Of course PC thought the sausages were great and ROC went for a Haxe.
The Munich-Nurnberg train was busy with returning revellers but we did at least manage to get seats. The two lederhosen clad men near us turned out to be US soldiers who had fully embraced the Oktoberfest experience. At least Jason and Brett were fully awake – their friend Kev spent the journey having a nice kip only to be rudely awakened by KOC on arrival at Nurnberg.
A select four decided on a nightcap at Barfusser (Hallplatz 2). Although the streets were still busy with bank holiday revellers the bar itself was rather quiet – just like us after a long day’s travelling.

Monday
The day of the Neuhaus Zoigl festival was upon us and we again joined forces with Nelly Tours for the train journey to Windischeschenbach. Once there the posse split with Nelly and his gang immediately setting off for the festival while Mengo booked into their hotel – Oberpfalzer Hof (Haupstrasse 1). The group were welcomed with a Zoigl brewed by the innkeeper and our favourable impression was confirmed when we viewed the large comfortable bedrooms.
Staying in Windi for our lunch the first port of call was the very smart Gasthof Weisser Schwan (Pfarrplatz 1). As this establishment is open all week, PV was unsure if it was a real Zoigl brewery and was unwilling to dawdle over food. (It turned out the beer was brewed at the communal brewhouse but as the pub had a large cellar could store sufficient beer to accommodate longer opening hours.) We moved on to a true gem of a bar, Beim Gloser (Lehnerberg 2), and settled onto the long central table in the enclosed beer garden. Some thought the Zoigl here seemed more malty and rounded than the rather sharper two previous samples and we settled here for a couple along with some food.
With our hunger temporarily under control, it was time to join the festival fun in the adjoining village. Breasting the heights of Neuhaus we found the main road shut off to traffic and a steady flow of revellers wandering between the seven open Zoigl outlets. We headed a little down hill to Schafferhof (Burgstrasse 6), which looked very much like a farm. The busy beer garden was being entertained by a brass band and we found welcome relief from the noise and the sun inside the main farm building. The beer was not particularly memorable but the fountain and its unusual sitting of the fish certainly caught our attention (apart from TM who does not remember it).
Next up was the bar which had started PV and Nelly considering a trip to the festival might be worthwhile. And indeed Stephanie, the brewer’s daughter and the one who told us about the festival, was behind the bar of Lingl (Burgstrasse 1) with her dad. To complete the reunion, Nelly and his gang (who had begun at the top) turned up and joined Mengo in the un-crowded rear room. Pater Bauer certainly knows how to brew and provides a nice dry beer.
Teicher (Markplatz 4) confirmed the trend – the Germans prefer drinking in the open courtyards leaving Mengo plenty of room to settle inside. The inside here really did look like someone’s front room. PC considered this Jurgen Punzmann beer was the best Zoigl yet.
A few doors up, Bahler (Markplatz 12) proved the most difficult assignment yet – not only were the courtyard and interior rooms full, they had also run out of glasses. Eventually we managed to get a beer and seats near the rock band. They were no better than the brass bands but they did play Happy Birthday for ROC at the request of his latest friend Angelika.
Kack’n (Marktplatz 18) departed from the rest by only providing recorded music. They also provided the youngest waiter who was no less efficient for being only about 8 years old. PV managed to spill his beer but fortunately managed to miss all the Germans standing around the barrel table.
Now it was the turn of Manfred Punzmann (brother of Jurgen) at Schoilmichl (Marktplatz 20) to prove he could brew. By this time we were talking bollocks and, to be truthful, it was difficult to tell the difference between any of the Zoigl beers let alone between the Punzmann brothers. Manfred was there wandering around doing bugger all while the young serving girls were running around like headless chickens.
Around this time Nelly Tours were also imitating beheaded fowl – it was time for them to leave if they wanted to catch the scheduled train and the shuttle bus for the station was nowhere to be seen. Some were seen hurrying off down the hill while Phil (who would not hurry anywhere) just hoped the bus would arrive in time. Luckily it did.
Despite being unable to tell the difference between Punzmann beers we were quite definite that the Zoigl served up by Zum Waldnaabtal (Markplatz 1) was by far the worst we had tried. This was doubly disappointing as we had waited a long time for the beer as our waiter in this smart modern restaurant had forgotten to pass on our order. Still the fountain outside proved useful to dispose of the beer.
Mengo now split up. The majority wanted to eat and headed off for our hotel, while birthday boy and his minder brother decided to carry on Zoigling.
On arrival the Oberpfalzer Hof was busy and there was some question on whether the landlord, German Enders, would let us in to the restaurant. Eventually he did and we had a very good meal – most choosing the wild boar special or a very tasty steak. By now even the limitations of German’s Zoigl were less noticeable. PC also managed to find a German who seemed prepared to discuss theology.
After the meal PV, MG and FN decided to try Zum Posterer (An der Alten Post 5) only to find the OC brothers (complete with pebble 13) already there chatting to a couple of ladies – as the ladies only lived some 18 km away they were regular visitors to Windi for the Zoigl. From them we also learnt that in this region you didn’t ask for a Schnitt but a Pfiff and that in the local dialect Neuhaus is Eschawoo and Windischeschenbach is Tschitscherlbock (but it might be the other way round).
JA and TM also found their way to Posterer but it wasn’t either of them who suggested we had a nightcap. Unfortunately for any hope of an early night the Waldhimbeergeist turned out to be an excellent Schnapps and we just had to try another flavour….and another…..and another…..Perhaps the best was the Green Apple Apfellikor. After some difficulty we managed to get the birthday boy home and into bed.

Tuesday
After a rather haphazard but welcome breakfast we wound our way to the station only to find there was no way to purchase a Bayern ticket there….. nor on the first train. With the ticket machine at the change stop proving unfathomable to non-German speakers, the tour leader was beginning to panic – that was until a nice native twice selected the correct buttons just in time for us to catch the connecting train.
With an evening flight we had plenty of time in Nurnberg to sort out our lunch. TM was suffering from pork overload and wanted something different, something Spag Bol. No sooner requested than we were in Cucina Italiana (Konigstrasse 51) enjoying said dish or some other southern European speciality.
Then there was sufficient time to visit Tucherbrau am Opernhaus (Am Kartausertor 1) to try Nurnberg’s major brewery’s beers and for TM to write his life story…... no sorry, his postcards.
The U bahn for the airport goes through Opernhaus so it was an easy transfer and our wait for the plane home.
Arriving at Gatwick on time we hoped to catch the 8.10 pm to North Camp. But of course after the general efficiencies of DB, we were now in the clutches of the privatised British railway companies and predictably they immediately let us down. We eventually managed to get a train even if we did have to change at Redhill and then stop at every station from there to North Camp. But after all, the FN and KOC taxis were waiting at the station to ferry us home so it was no problem really.