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Brewery Visit - Europe

Greifenklau 1Tuesday 14th May 2013

Bob Thompson

This venerable pub and brewery is to be found in the Kaulberg district on the road south from the centre of the city. It's about one kilometre from the middle of the old city and is located at the top of a rather steep hill. In the past this would have probably meant an additional horse to assist. Thus, this pub is perfectly sited to enable a break for carts and carriages going to and from the city.

Directly in front is Laurenziplatz, a small square that was once used for parking horse-drawn vehicles and, of course, cars nowadays.

Greifenklau 2Again, I was with the convivial members of the Brewery History Society and we were met by Sigmund Brockard, now the fourth generation of the owning family. They purchased the Brauerei Greifenklau for 38,000 Marks in 1914 after a forced sale. I suppose at this point it is worth mentioning the history of the premises. The initial reference to a tavern on the site was in 1585. However, the major development came in the very early 1700s after the purchase of the site by Franz Friedrich von Greifenklau who constructed the pub we see today and the brew house that opened in 1719. Of course, the name of the tavern remains the same to this day, nearly 300 years later

Greifenklau 3Naturally it possessed a brew house and when the owner died in 1729 the property went to the cathedral. The church sold it on but with a covenant that beer could not be brewed on site. Presumably this was a protectionist measure. When Willibald Mayer, a brewer from Herzogenaurach, purchased it in 1731 he appealed against this ruling and it was rescinded. The brewery continued through a succession of owners throughout the remaining 18th and 19th centuries. A notable period was between 1854 and 1868 when the cellars in the rock underneath the beer garden were enlarged several times.

Greifenklau 4LThis brings us to 1914 and the purchase by Sigmund Brockart. He found the buildings in a poor state of repair and one of his first actions was to close the brew house for rebuilding. This wasn't completed until November 1919, presumably as a consequence of the Great War. In the intervening period the brewing of Greifenklau beers was made at the Riegelhof Brewery. It is an interesting fact that the all four heads of the owning family were named Sigmund. I supposed it saves money changing the stone-carved name over the front door!

As we started our tour Sigmund mentioned that the brew house we were visiting was constructed in the mid-sixties (see above). He said that he was the only brewer now working on site and that the beer was supplied only to the pub and its adjacent beer garden. It produces over 1000 hectolitres per annum. The system used was two step with a small mash to begin with which went to the lauter tun and then back again for the main mash. This is 4,300 litres and there is a further decoction to the lauter tun and then back again to the copper, where the hops are added. For the Lager Bier this is majority Hallertau Perle.

Greifenklau 5RAfter primary fermentation the main maturation continues in the closed vessels for 6 to 8 weeks, mainly dependent on the season. There are two sizes of fermenting tanks; five are of 40hls and four at 25hls capacity. Around 32 full brews are made each year and there are several half brews, dependent on demand. Sigmund mentioned that a new Keller Pils was soon to be introduced with a primary maturation time of two to four weeks. He also explained that he is now brewing a series of seasonal beers, and would have a Rauch Bier (smoked beer) available from the following week.

The current seasonal beer was Laurenzi, a dark unfiltered Kellerbier. Sigmund told us that the Weizen (wheat beer) (5.2%) was brewed at another brewery to his specification as he wished to use the main plant for bottom-fermented beers only. This brewery also brewed the bottled beers. Next to the brewing kettles there was a wooden barrel and he advised it was a Whisky Ale he had brewed for his sister's wedding in July using New Zealand hops; it smelt superb! This led us to the subject of his next venture, on which work has already begun.

Greifenklau 6
He is creating a small (300 litre) brewery for the special and some seasonal brews. He showed us the first part that had been constructed and thought the project would be finished soon.

So, it looks like Greifenklau is going to be a pub to visit in the future. The mainstay of the brewery, and the biggest seller in the pub and biergarten, is a Lagerbier, known as Greifenklaubier (4.9%).

Greifenklau 7 BiergartenWe thanked Sigmund profusely for his hospitality and repaired to the pub for lunch. This has four rooms, although not all are in use simultaneously, that depends on demand. On entering the front door, the main room is to be found on the right and it is decorated in the timeless traditional style of the area, with scrubbed wooden tables, wood panelling to head height and garlands of hops hanging from the ceiling. There is a large green-tiled stove on one side. There is another stove in the further room beyond which is decorated with many old photographs and paintings gracing the walls.

The menu came high recommended and the consensus of opinion after the meal was that it was completely justified. I had Schäuferla, which is pork shoulder slow roasted in the same fashion as Schweinshaxe. It was delivered with a Bavarian dumpling and sauerkraut. The meat literally falls off the bone. There were many other local specialities and also many southern German specialities such as Schweinebraten (roast pork) and breast of duck.

Another great feature of this pub is its expansive beer garden with great views over the valley towards the Altenburg castle. This is a great pub that no visitor to Bamberg should miss.

Important Information:

Brauereigasthof Greifenklau, Laurenziplatz 20, Bamberg 96049. Tel: 0951 53219

Open: Tuesday to Saturday 10.30-23.30; Sunday 10.00-14.00. Monday: Closed

The kitchen is open: Tuesday to Saturday 11.30-21.30; Sunday 10.00-13.00

The pub is around 20-25 minutes walk from the Domplatz but it is all uphill. Buses run from the ZOB (Zentral Omnibus Bahnhof), calling on the way at Schanne, in the old town. The two daytime routes to Laurenziplatz are 912 and 918. Between them they provide quite a frequent service. The night bus service is the 937. Please note that the night services normally commence at around 20.00.

Bamberg station is about 2.7km (2 miles) away and is served by trains to and from a number of German cities and it takes about 40 minutes to Nürnberg which there are many more connections, some to other countries.