Tuesday 23rd April 2019
There had long been a dispute on the exact nature of Zoigl beer. There are traditional Zoigl houses who have beer produced on the commune brewery in their village to mature in their own cellars.
Opposing this exclusivity are those that take their beer from commercial breweries to finish at home. The waters are further muddied by regional breweries that produce “Zoigl” beer to sell along with their other beers.
For those readers who would like to know more, Zoigl beers are a tradition dating from the 15th and 16th centuries. The beer is mainly found in Oberpfalz (the Upper Palatinate) which is in Bavaria between Upper Franconia and the Czech Republic. Five remaining villages have working commune breweries (Kommune brauerien). They are Eslarn, Falkenberg, Mitterteich, Neuhaus (Waldnaab) and Windischeschenbach.
The beer is brewed on the brewery and pitched with hops according to the customer’s preference. It is cooled overnight in a Kühlschiff (known as a cool ship in English). It’s a large but shallow vessel. The following day the beer is cool enough to be transported. This is done in a small tank on one axle normally towed by a tractor. At the house it is matured in cellar tanks with yeast added. The name zoigl is an Oberpfalz corruption of the word zeigel, or sign. It refers to the six-pointed star hung outside a house when it is open for beer sales.
Zoigl beer is bottom-fermented and it is a pale to medium brown in colour and its strength is normally just below 5.0% abv. It is sold from private households that have converted part of their property to include a bar room. These are open to a strict calendar, often being closed for anything between three weeks and two months. Check zoiglbier.de for full information.
The problems over what or wasn’t true zoigl beer came to head in 2011 when the Patents Office was involved in a massive investigation into the name. Basically, on one side those that received their un-fermented wort from commune breweries in Oberpfalz thought only they were entitled to use the name.
The remainder stated that the name is not geographically-based as it is used outside of Oberpfalz. Also they maintained that Zoigl was a style not necessarily linked to a Commune brewery.
The judge sided with the latter group and Zoigl beer is now a style that can be produced anywhere. No doubt in an effort to distance themselves from this decision the commune brewers formed an association that promotes their beers as Echter Zoigl vom Kommunbrauer (Original Zoigl from commune brewers), normally with a green sign.
Now to Marktredwitz. This is one of the main towns and villages that have lost their commune breweries, although I understand the malt house still survives.
Once there were fourteen houses taking beer to sell to the public. These had names such as the “Rössler Fritz”, “Riesenfriedrich”, “Dammschuster” and “Becknsannl”. The brewery was known as “Im Winkel” The “Alten Rathaus” was also one of these houses.
It is not known exactly when the last zoigl house ceased selling the beer. The commune brewery would have closed at the same time. Very few survived the Second World War although some lasted to the 1960s. Marktredwitz was probably one of those. The Alten Rathaus pub and restaurant no doubt continued to trade through to the modern era.
I am not sure when it started selling zoigl beer again and changed its name Zoigl am Alte Rathaus. It was definitely operating as such in 2010. Incidentally a Rathaus is a Town Hall, so the pub is in the old town hall. The beer comes from the Wolframstub’n zoigl pub in Windischeshenbach. This used to be supplied from the local commune brewery but in 1994 opened its own brewery and now supplies itself and around eight other zoigl pubs. I must have visited it before that as I remember an early visit when it had no brewery.
On this visit I was with Linda and we had walked from the station and arrived just after opening time. Notwithstanding that the pub was quite busy yet we managed to get a vacant corner seat. I had a look around and could see that the room was very rustic with scrubbed wood tables. There was green painted wood panelling on the walls. Above that there were many roe deer horns and on the ceiling were ornate electric candelabras. A fresh tulip was found on every table.
There is a typical zoigl house food menu with cheeses and cold pressed meats. Hot sausages, some pickled, were also available. Yes, and the beer was very good too! Well worth a visit.
Zoigl am Alten Rathaus, Markt 23, 95615 Marktredwitz. Tel: 09231 702472. Web: zoigl-marktredwitz.de
Hours: Sunday-Tuesday Closed; Wednesday-Friday 11.00-24.00; Saturday 10.00-01.00
On advertised days only. Please see web site for actual dates.
Marktredwitz station is served by trains from Nürnberg, Regensberg, Hof and Cheb (Czech Republic).
Marktredwitz is only about ten miles from the Czech border so can easily be combined with a visit there.
Coming out of the station turn right. Immediately turn left into Poststrasse. At the end turn right.
This is Krausoldstrasse. Go past the large road junction on the left and take the next left which is Markt.
Continue along here and you will find the pub on the left at a raised level.
Update January 2020. Hours: these are now: Wednesday-Thursday: 11.00-22.00; Friday: 11.00-24.00;