Franconia homebrewing

Brewing lager: what’s all the fuss about?

landbier.jpgNow our first-born lager is but a distant and bleary memory, time to look back on the experiment.

It took us a over a year and a half of all-grain brewing to pluck up the courage to do a lager, mostly because our books and the guidance make it sound so damn complicated. The implication seems to be that if you can’t mirror the water quality of Plzen and don’t have lagering capacity of a cavern in the Alps, it just ain’t worth the bother.

This, coupled with a rather narrow definition of what a lager should taste like, makes the process rather daunting. However, having now had a go ourselves, we’d say that you don’t need to worry about things as much as the books suggest to get something very drinkable, and yes, even “authentic”.

More details of the homebrewing lager process after the jump. And maybe some gratuitous pops at the BJCP guidelines…

Franconia Nice places to drink in...

Nice places to drink in Nuremberg, Franconia, Germany

Franconia has only been part of Bavaria since the early 19th Century, and apparently “many of its people do not consider themselves fully ‘Bavarian’ “. Well, that’s the kind of guff Lonely Planet comes out with, but I would say that there is a different type of beer culture here than further down south.

If Upper Bavaria (Munich et al) is about swigging litres in beer gardens, Franconia is more about savouring individual and local styles. It’s estimated that there are around 200 breweries and thousand beers in “Upper Franconia” alone, and you see styles here that you don’t see elsewhere (such as “Rauchbier” (or “smoke beer”)). It’s home to famous brewing towns such as Bamberg, Kulmbach and Bayreuth. Furthermore, people seem genuinely interested in their beer here, and proud of the varieties. Unlike other parts of Germany, where you get strange looks if you ask for a different drink on the second round…


Nuremberg is the capital of Franconia, and a very interesting and beautiful city to visit even if you’re not a beer lover. It’s also very well connected, with high speed links across Germany and excellent local connections to the smallest villages, making it an excellent place to base yourself for a beer holiday.

Nuremberg has two brewpubs, the Altstadthof and Bar Fuesser (see below), and is also home to Landbierparadies, a chain of five pubs (and one large off-licence) selling beer from small breweries in Franconia. We featured them in an article on this blog last month.

Recommended pubs

This is not a comprehensive guide! I have a feeling most of the best places to drink are probably outside the centre, but Nuremberg is a big old place, and this is just intended to be a starting point.

From Nuremberg station, it’s only a short hop to Kloster Andechs “Das Wirthaus”, in the groundfloor of the Hotel Deutscher Kaiser. This does the full range of Andechs, one of Germany’s most famous monastery brewing corporations. They even do a tasting platter (which takes them a while to put together).

About five minutes further up Koenigstrasse, you get to Barfuesser, a cavernous “Hausbrauerei” and restaurant. They brew two tasty refreshing beers (a dark and a light), which you can see fermenting from certain parts of the beer hall. The food’s pretty good too.

Top of our recommendations has got to be the Altstadthof, in the middle of the old town (up the hill near the castle). This is a cosy brewpub where, on a cold January day, we really fell in love with beer. They brew a Helles, a Schwarzbier, and most special of all, a “Rothbier” (which they translate as “Red beer”).

altstadthof beer mat

I’m intrigued by how they manage to brew beers which taste so different from anything else, yet are absolutely delicious (and still in accordance with the Reinheitsgebot!). The red beer has a strong aroma of toffee apples, but is also very bitter for a German beer, and possibly slightly sour. It’s not very carbonated (like a lot of beers in this part of the world). It’s incredibly refreshing and more-ish.

It was also pleasing to see (during one of our many afternoon sessions there) the number of locals coming in to buy beer to takeaway. You can go on a brewery tour and even watch a play in the small theatre attached. There’s also a distillery where they make several different types of schnapps.

The closest Landbierparadies outlet to the centre is probably the one on Rothenburger Strasse. It has one draft “landbier” on tap and around 30 in bottles. See our earlier blog for more on Landbierparadies. If you’re hunting for souvenirs, their shop on Galganhofstrasse (about 10-15 minutes walk south of the main station) is an excellent place not just for local beers but also for original stone mugs and glasses at very reasonable (i.e. not touristy!) prices.

Other areas for pubs etc

The area around St Sebaldus church (between the Hauptmarkt and the castle) is a great place for wandering. The pubs can be quite touristy, but it’s a great place for food (particularly Nuremberg sausages). For something different, there’s a trendy cafe attached to some kind of arts centre, near the Rathaus, which has several varieties from the organic Neumarkt Lammsbrau brewery. Unfortunately, we can’t remember the name of the cafe or the street…

There’s also a good area for pubs to the east of Konigstrasse – lots of small bars with beer from local breweries such as St Georgen and Kuchlbauer.

Notes & further links
1. Link to GoogleMap with the above places marked and full addresses.

2. The Franconia Beer Guide is a comprehensive database of the 300 or so breweries in Franconia; it also contains news, articles and a downloadable tour guide. You can upload details of your own beer trips or read other people’s. Very useful.

3. Deutsche Bahn website is very easy to use for looking up train times and even booking fares. If you want to get to Nuremberg by train from the UK, you can get Eurostar to Brussels, and then use this site to get a ticket from Brussels to Nuremberg via Cologne. If you get the connections right, you could get from London to Nuremberg in around 9 hours.

If you are travelling around Franconia, then the “Bayern ticket” is an excellent deal. For 27 Euros, up to 5 people can travel between 9am and 3am the following morning on any local trains. Read here for more.

4. There’s more information about types of beer in Bamburg and Franconia here, written by John Conen, author of CAMRA’s “Bamberf and Franconia: Germany’s Brewing Heartland”.

5. Here’s another page listing Nuremberg pubs.


Beer heroes of the month (May) – Landbierparadies, Nuremberg, Germany

A litre krug from landbierparadiesThe first of a monthy series where we honour those who have gone the extra mile to promote good, interesting beer.

This month – Landbierparadies, Nuremberg, Germany. I came across this while researching pubs and breweries for our recent trip to Bavaria.

Landbierparadies is a company that showcases beer from small breweries in Franconia. I don’t read much German, but they proudly announce (in the “Uber uns” section) that they are not just a large off-licence and pub chain – they are “eine Philosophie in Bier”. They deplore the trend towards homogenous beers produced by large companies, and instead provide an outlet for the hundreds of small village breweries that can be found around Nuremburg, Bamburg and Bayreuth.

We went to the shop first – an enormous warehouse with at least fifty types of local beer, none of which we had ever heard of. We almost despaired – we were due to travel home the next day, and I’m not sure one lifetime would be enough to try everything there, let alone one night. Still, in the knowledge we’d be going to one of their pubs, we settled for a couple of litre krugs as a souvenir. (NB – this was the best place we found to buy krugs and glasses – a fantastic selection from various local breweries, priced very reasonably).

Krugs safely back in the hotel, we then went out to one of their five pubs – we found that the one on Rothenburger Strasse was the easiest to get to on foot from the town centre. The surrounding area was not the most attractive, and the pub was rather quiet – but this could have been because FC Nuremberg were playing in the German cup semi-finals that night and the pub didn’t have a telly.

We were blown away by the choice of beer – they had one on tap, and over 30 in bottles. I’m not sure where the one on tap came from – it was just called “Landbier vom Holzfass”, which my primitive German dictionary translates as “Country beer from a wooden barrel”. Incidentally, according to the German Beer Institute, Landbier is “general term denoting a simple everyday session or quaffing brew”, with few other specific characteristics. All the “Landbiers” we found in Germany were unfiltered, and we wondered whether “Landbier” was the German equivalent of “real ale” – it seems to be in sentiment if not strict definition.

Anyway, this particular variety was very “ale-like” (i.e. did not taste like a lager) and was very refreshing.

We then moved on to the bottles. We had six different types in total; what was interesting was that they all tasted very different. Most were amazing, but a couple were not very nice at all – but after a couple of weeks of fairly similar German lagers, we could take the occasional duff one in return for the fabulous variety. (Again, the parallel with “real ale” in the UK – some of it tastes foul, but I’d rather have the variety any day.)

The beers we particularly liked were;

  • “Schluekla”, a smoked beer from Brauerei Saurer in Gunzendorf – this was a much more subtle smoked beer than the more famous “Schlenkerla” of Bamberg. It didn’t smell of bacon, like some smoked beers I’ve tried, but had a lovely smoky aftertaste. It also tasted very malty, i.e. you could taste other malts other than the smoked element.
  • “Dunkles Vollbier” from Brauerei Drummer in Leutenbach – served in a “Buegelflashe” ( a swing-top bottle). This was fabulous – it had an amazing burnt sugar / candyfloss aroma with a roasted, slightly smoked malt taste. There was a great balance between sweetness and bitterness.
  • “Dunkles Vollbier” from Brauerei Penning in Hetzelsdorf – roasty, smoky with a bitter aftertaste. Tasted a lot like a dark ale or porter, due to the lack of carbonation and the bitterness
  • “Schwarze Anna” from Neder-Brauerei in Forchheim – a dark beer that, once warmed up a little, tasted a little smoky with a hint of coffee.

Good effort, chaps. Well done.


From the Landbierparadies homepage, “Laden” will take you to details about their shop, and “”Wirtshauser” lists the pubs by address.

The Franconian beer guide is an extremely useful website which lists breweries and pubs in Franconia. It lists all the producers of the beers mentioned above, plus many more, with advice on how to get there by public transport. It also has some “road trip” articles to inspire you…