Wednesday 15th January 2014
This is a very old tavern in the Oberstrass district of Zürich, close to the university. The Linden (Lime) Tree was first recorded in 1510. By 1803 it had its own brewery. In 1993 this old building achieved official preservation status.
Whilst researching this article I discovered that it had become a guild house in 1925. Further research found that this was not a guild in the sense that it represented a trade, but was a university guild of the type that would have been called a fraternity in the USA. A more obscure translation of the word zunft is brotherhood, which describes the place much better than guild.
It was a cold night as I alighted from the tram stop directly opposite the restaurant. As can be seen in the photograph above this is a very old building.
I particularly liked the lanterns flanking the entrance door. If you look carefully you will see on the left a large window illuminated with blue light. This is the "brewery", more of which later.
On entering the pub my initial impression was of a really comfortable watering hole. Whilst some people were eating, I noticed a number were just there for a drink.
This is probably the right moment to mention the etiquette of drinking in Switzerland. Although there are a number of pure bars, especially in the large towns and cities, nearly everywhere else will be a restaurant. Under usual circumstances it is perfectly acceptable to just have a drink, although it is better to avoid 12.00 to 14.00, unless the place is empty.
I found an empty table and had a look around. Most of the tables were of scrubbed pine, which are so common in nearby southern Germany.
I was particularly impressed by the table in the corner that was well polished with one enormous chair, rather like a throne.
The other chairs around it were also of ornately carved wood. I assume this is something to do with the university guild.
Two draught beers were offered. Firstly there was Linde-Pils (4.7%). This was a filtered dry Pils and I thought it was very good indeed, having lots of bitterness. Then there was Huus-Bier (4.7%) which was unfiltered and therefore cloudy. The name means house beer in Schweizerdeutsch dialect of Zürich. My impression was that it was another really good beer, also with a lot of hop flavour.
Now the big question; where do these beers come from? The largest and most used beer ratings site says this is a brewery, although it does state that some beers are brewed at the Steinfels brewery in the city. That brewery has supplied other pubs in the past. In one part of the restaurant through an internal window you can see that there are some fermentation vessels, yet there is no visible sign of any brewing equipment.
Whilst it may be located somewhere else in the building, I think that it probably is brewed somewhere else and undergoes secondary (and possibly primary) fermentation here in the restaurant. This is the system used in the Zoigl houses of the Oberpfalz areas of Germany and also by the Granite City chain in mid-west USA which both have central breweries and deliver the wort shortly after brewing.
I would be nice if this question could finally be nailed, so if there is definite knowledge out there, we at BeerVisits would like to know. Whatever the actual situation, both of the beers are extremely good and justify a short trip out of the city centre especially as the restaurant has a good reputation for its food, which can be in the Swiss rustic style or Italian.
Linde Oberstrass, Universtätstrasse 9, Zürich. CH-8006. Tel: 041 (0) 44 362 2109
Open: Monday-Friday 08.00-24.00; Saturday 09.00-24.00; Sunday 10.00-24.00
Tram routes 9 and 10 stop outside the restaurant at the Winkelriedstrasse stop.
The 9 takes a more southerly route through the city centre than the 10, which terminates at Zürich HB. Trolleybus 33, which travels on an almost complete circular route around the central area, serves the Seilbahn Rigiblick stop that is a few hundred metres north of Linde Oberstrass. Trams 9 and 10 also call there.