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Pub Visit - Germany

Ebermannstadt, Bayern (Bavaria):
Gasthof Schwanenbräu

Saturday 22nd October 2016

Schwanenbrau1Bob Thompson

This brewery likes to style itself as the Hotel & Restaurant Schwanenbräu. That is probably more descriptive of its current situation. When I first visited it in the early 1990s it was two room traditional Franconian town pub. The room with the entrance in Hauptstrasse was quite basic. Presumably that’s why it states Schwanenbräu Bierstube on the outside. Bierstube translates as beer-room and that’s how I remember it. To be fair it does say Gasthof Schwanenbräu on the other side of the building. The signs look as if they date from the 1950s or 1960s.

Schwanenbrau2Before I move on to the pub itself I’d like say something about brewing in Ebermannstadt. Despite its size it was a big brewing location in the past with no less than eight breweries being active in the 20th Century. Possibly it’s because of the water here. The last of the other seven was Sonnenbräu which had its brewery tap opposite the Schwanenbräu tap. It closed recently and is now a “Boutique” hotel with a cocktail bar. The Gasthaus Sonne was a very likeable pub that sold a wide range of beers.

Schwanenbräu’s existence was first recorded in the 17th Century. However the accepted date for its inception is 1812 during the period of Bavarian secularization when it was sold to the Ott family. In 1909 it was purchased by the Dotterweich family and it has remained in their hands for the last three generations. They also operate the Biergarten.

Schwanenbrau3For the record this is the list of the past breweries in the town with their founding and closure dates: Sonnenbräu (1812-2013), Brauerei Resengörg (1848-1959), Brauerei Alois Theiler (1866-1953), Post-Bräu (1885-1961), Brauerei Seiller (1886-1965), Bastei-Bräu (1900-1974), Brauerei Hacklschmitt (1902-1959) and Brauerei Lachmayer (1935-1942). The latter being very short-lived. There was also a Kommunbrauerei (Commune Brewery that was founded in 1858 and closed in 1962. This is where eligible residents brewed their own beer.

Schwanenbrau4So after my visit around twenty-five years ago, I returned in the early 2000s and I was surprised to see what had happened to the interior. To say that it had been given a “make-over” would be an understatement. It had been opened out internally and had been re-decorated.

Although all the lovely old wood panelling had been retained there were many other features that had changed, not least the over-decoration. Maybe I’m being churlish because I think some visitors will like it.

Schwanenbrau5I know it is a hotel restaurant but that is all it looks like now. It has none of the features that you would expect from a brewery tap, beer appears to be secondary or even lower down the list of importance.

The room I was in I thought to be the strangest. I liked all the wooden features but there were some odd paintings of women in Edwardian dress that would look more at home in French château’s dining room. I went into the interior of the building, past a wooden service counter.

Schwanenbrau6I entered a large room with windows on one side that look out over the Marktplatz (market place) when there tables in the summer.

There are alcoves the other side of the room and one contains a lovely old tiled wood burning stove. The flagstone floor are covered with Persian-style carpets. I have mentioned the wood panelling and one plus point is the number of old ceramic krugs that are displayed along the shelves above them. The cushioning here is blue which is a lot better that the horrible puce colour of the seats in the room where I was seated.

Schwanenbrau7Thank goodness for the beer! I was the end of my day of travelling and with a train every hour back to Forchheim I could take my time here, a luxury I don’t often get! There were three different draught beers offered. I had two of them and although they weren’t fantastic they were satisfying. The choice was Lagerbier Dunkel (4.9%), their standard, Pils (4.9%) and Hefeweizen (5.0%) (wheat). At Christmas time there is also a Weinachtsbockbier (Christmas Bock Beer) available.

Their brewery is situated a short distance from the Marktplatz at Mühlstrasse 1 on the banks of the River Wiesent. This is also the location of their Biergarten which is open in the summer months. The brewery was built new in 1961 and replaced an old one on the same site (please see photograph of the old brewery, above right). It produces around 1,000 hl per annum and a lot of it goes into bottles which can be found in the local supermarkets around here.

Ebermannstadt is a pleasant old town that has good connections with a regular train service. It is also the starting point for the DFS (Dampfbahn Fränkische Schweiz or Franconian Switzerland Steam Railway in English). This runs through the beautiful karst scenery to the end of the line at Behringsmühle.

Important Information:

Schwannenbräu, Marktplatz 2, 91320 Ebermannstadt. Tel: 09194 767190

Hours: Monday-Saturday: 08.00-23.00; Sunday: 08.00-15.00

Ebermannstadt is easily reached by train operated by Agilis along the branch line from Forchheim.
It has an hourly service Monday-Sunday and takes around twenty minutes.
Forchheim is on the Nürnberg to Bamberg main line and there are plenty of trains to both cities.

From Ebermannstadt station walk down the station approach to the main road (Bahnhofstrasse).
Turn right and cross the river bridge. You are still in Bahnhosstrasse. Continue to a crossroad.
Turn right into Haupstrasse (Main Street). The pub is on the right side. About five to ten minutes walk.