Visited on: Thursday 26th July 2018
Where are we? Gräfenberg is a small town of about four thousand inhabitants north of the Franconian capital, Nürnberg. Why was I here? This lucky town has two breweries which are both good, and you can easily get here by train from Nürnberg. Additionally, there is also an efficient and frequent bus route from Forchheim, a town with four breweries, which is itself just twenty minutes from brewing capital Bamberg by train.
I arrived on a bus 223 from Forchheim. Unfortunately this one terminated at the railway station. Why unfortunate? Well, Gräfenberg is on the top of hill so the railway station is at a much lower level. So it was either a long wait for a bus to go up the hill. Or maybe, use the road to get there, or go up a path (Friedhofsgrässchen) that leads almost directly there?
I last used it when I was much younger and fitter. Now it was a struggle. The first part wasn’t too bad as it was steps. Then it changed to a steep path and I suffered. I got there in the end, though.
At the top I found myself in Bayreutherstrasse. Turning right I would have come upon the Brauerei Friedmann. However it only operates a take away (in bulk) service. Although, above the brewery is Am Michelsberg and here you will find Biergarten Bergschlösschen, the new Friedmann’s Biergarten, it opened for the first time in April 2017
My initial intention was to go to the brewery for a photograph, but I was so whacked out by the climb that at the top I just turned left to their tap Friedmann’s Bräustüberl, which was about 100 metres along.
When I reached the Bräustüberl I went inside to cool down a bit. It was 30+C outside and I had no desire to sit out on the front terrace, even though it was shaded.
Instead I had time to savour the classic interior. It is really ancient, being built just after 1500, although the current owners came later. In the early 19th Century the brewery was known as the Heldsche Brauhaus, also located in Bayreutherstrasse.
In 1875 it was purchased by Christof Friedmann, giving it its present day name. His son Georg took over in 1909. He was a respected member of the Bavarian State Parliament.
Georg remained the driving force behind the brewery for fifty years. At this time brewing was only performed in the late autumn, winter and early spring. The maturation cellars were located in the side of a hill named Jägersberg, a different location to the brewery.
Beginning in the late 1920s he closed the worn-out brewery and built a new one on cellars site. He installed chillers so they could brew and mature all year round.
Ludwig, son of Georg, was a farmer and he gave this up soon after he took over the brewery in 1959. He is credited for rebuilding the brew-house and installing aluminium fermentation vessels. By the 1960s the beer was distributed all over the area. Sigi, daughter of Ludwig took up the reigns of the company in 1982. She further modernised the brewery with the inauguration of an automatic bottling line, amongst other features.
She also expanded the range of beers from the previous Fränkisher Landbier, a Vollbier (4.9%), Pils (5.2%) and Festbier (5.4%) beers to include Ritter Wirnt Trunk (5.6%) a strong beer named after a knight from Gräfenberg’s history; Sigi’s Lager (5.1%) which is organic and Weisse (5.0%), top-fermented wheat beer. That’s how it stands today. Festbier is available from mid November to January and Sigi’s Lager from April to September. Now, daughter Barbara is the brew-master although I think her mother still runs the company.
As I was cooling off in the ancient pub I had a look around. When entering I noticed the bar counter in a room to the right.
This is a more modern addition. The room itself is old yet the furniture, bar and floorboards are new, being mostly in varnished light pine. The two rooms on the left are quite exquisite. Both feature painted wood panelling yet in two different styles
There is dark wood throughout and one can imagine this being created by centuries of tobacco smoke. Not so these days as Bavaria is a smoke-free state. In the room facing the street there is a traditional green tiled Kachelofen. This is a wood burning stove.
In both rooms the panelling is three quarters height. Above this bare wall is painted white and decorated with the skulls of many roe deer.
They had the Vollbier and Pils on draught, with the others in bottled form. This is a great pub with very good beer and is recommended should you be in the Nürnberg area.
Friedmann’s Bräustüberl, Bayreuther Strasse 14, 91322 Gräfenberg. Tel: 09192 992318
Hours: Monday-Tuesday: Closed; Wednesday: 17.00-23.00; Thursday-Friday: 11.00-23.00;
Saturday: 10.00-23.00; Sunday: 10.00-20.00
This pub is accessible from C city centre.
You catch the U-Bahn (Underground/Metro) line U2 to Nürnberg Nordost station, the end of the line.
Then transfer to DB and travel on Regionalbahn train (RB) to the terminus at Gräfenberg.
Turn left out of the station and you’ll see a steep path with steps.
This is Friedhofsgasse. Turn left at the top.
Or, if you are really lucky there will be a bus to take you to the village centre.
Gräfenberg station is also a bus station so it is possible to arrive there by bus.