Wuerzburg part 1 – Distelhaeuser @ Alte Mainzmuehle Gasthof

We’ve been to Wuerzburg before, and thor­ough­ly enjoyed the place, so we sched­uled a stopover this time round. We’ve drunk in most of the places in Ron’s guide but we had a cou­ple of aims this time. First­ly, to vis­it the Wuerzburg­er Hof brew­ery tap, and sec­ond­ly to revis­it one of our favourite restau­rant-pubs, the Alte Mainz­muehle.

This is sit­u­at­ed right on the old bridge, over­look­ing the Main. It’s more of a restau­rant than a pub, but it’s not stuffy or for­mal. It’s worth men­tion­ing because the food is a cut above what you nor­mal­ly get in pubs, with­out being pri­cy or pre­ten­tious. You can get hearty Ger­man food or lighter alter­na­tives.

They have a full range from Dis­tel­haeuser on tap. The Land­bier is extreme­ly refresh­ing – it’s not very car­bon­at­ed, and has hints of liquorice, despite being pale. The “dinkel” is gold­en-brown, with a thick body and hints of choco­late. We think it’s a bit stronger than the rest, pos­si­bly slight­ly bock-y, and they only serve it in 0.5l krugs. We’d assumed that “Dinkel” was a fun­ny region­al vari­a­tion on “Dunkel”, but in fact it’s Ger­man for “spelt”, and is indeed made from that grain. It’s love­ly, com­plex stuff.

The Weizen is won­der­ful – as well as the usu­al banana and clove, there a hints of pineap­ple and peach, with more hops than usu­al. Not sweet either, which is great.

The pils was a pleas­ant sur­prise – we were expect­ing this to be more bor­ing, but it had a good sul­phurous nose, a fruity-spicy-malt flavour (peach, fen­nel) and a love­ly bit­ter fin­ish. Clean, yet com­plex, with a long after­taste.

We’re intrigued by Dis­tel­haeuser. They’ve obvi­ous­ly moved beyond the quaint vil­lage Haus­brauerei stage, giv­en they have a num­ber of out­lets in Wuerzburg, but they’re clear­ly keen to main­tain Fran­con­ian tra­di­tions (hav­ing a Land­bier, for exam­ple) and rant against mass pro­duc­tion on their beer mats. The Dinkel beer shows a will­ing­ness to inno­vate as well.

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.

Info

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…

Boak