Tuesday 14th August 2012
Obviously this is not the world-famous pub and the brewery of the same name in Munich (München). In fact there are many breweries of that name scattered around the country. However, in its own area it is a major contributor to the local beer scene. The brewery is located in Hofgasse, a street just around the corner from the main square. The brewery tap is even more central, as it is to be found on Stadtplatz, the same main square that contains the impressive church of St Oswald at one end. The pub and the brewery's histories were separate until a hundred years ago.
In 1612 Duke Maximillian I of Bavaria established the town's Hofbräuhaus. The "Hof" in the title indicates that it was created by the Court. It was known as the "Weisses Bräuhaus", the white beer brewhouse, a reference to Wheat beer which was the norm back then in this part of the world.
Traunstein suffered devastating fires in 1704 and 1851. In both cases the brewery was saved by the citizens and many buckets of water! It is said that the brewery was so popular because the town's principle industry was its salt works and the workers needed copious amounts of beer to slake their thirsts. The works closed in 1912.
The year 1799 was marked by the beginning of the secularisation of Bavaria and the state acquired many monastic breweries and the position of the Traunstein Hofbräuhaus was under doubt. However it survived to be sold to a private individual, Franz Reiter of Munich in 1806 who started production of brown beer.
Later, in 1821, it was purchased by Joseph Windmassinger and a Dr Hutter. It was the latter's family that later assumed total control and owned the brewery until it was purchased by Joseph Sailer in 1896. Thus it entered the current era and the Sailer family own it to this day. An important milestone was reached in 1982 when it produced the first draught wheat beer of the modern age.
The pub is even older as it was first recorded in 1598. It did, of course, have its own brew house. In 1641 it is mentioned that it was owned by Hans Schober.
Many records were destroyed by Austrian troops during the War of the Spanish Succession between 1701 and 1714. At the end of the war the pub was sold by auction to Georg Jänner in 1714.
It then went through a series of owners presumably changing its name appropriately. For example, in 1872 it was known as Mittleren Bräu under the ownership of Franz Reitmayr.
It was damaged in the fire of 1851 and rebuilt in its present form. In 1875 Joseph Haas was in charge. In 1893 it was purchased by Bernhard Sailer, brother of Joseph who bought the Hofbräuhaus in 1896.
By this time it was known as Sternbräu. Brother Joseph took control in 1919. It is assumed, but not confirmed, that brewing on site ceased shortly afterwards, although the Sternbräu name continued.
The pub was remodelled in traditional style during 1996. Its 400th anniversary was celebrated in 1998, along with 100 years of Sailer family ownership. Surprisingly it wasn't until 2005 that it was renamed to Hofbräuhaus Bräustüberl, although their beers were sold there for many years previously.
Outside the market was in full swing as I approached the pub. I noticed that there were a few tables outside but I elected to go inside as it was a very hot day.
The inside is divided into many different rooms, all traditional. An interesting feature is that door handles to the toilets are metal barrel taps.
One of the great advantages of going to a brewery's official tap is that the beer selection is normally much greater than in a normal pub and here was no exception. There were no fewer than seven offerings. These were Helles (light) (5.3%), Zwickl (unfiltered) (5.3%), Pils (5.1%), Dunkel (dark) (5.3%), Weisse (wheat) (5.5%), Weissbier Dunkel (dark wheat) (5.5%) and Fürstentrunk (their flagship brew, the "Prince's drink" is lagered for four months) (5.7%).
The Helles was really good and I wish I could have stayed longer and tasted more of this great selection.
Hofbräuhaus Bräustüberl, Stadtplatz 20, Traunstein 83278
Open: May to October: Daily 10.00-23.00;
November to April: Tuesday 10.00-15.00; Wednesday to Monday 10.00-23.00.
The brewery is about 15 minutes walk from Traunstein station which is served by RB (regional trains), RE (Regional Express) and EC (Euro-City international trains).
Update January 2020. Hours are now: Monday-Sunday: 10.00-24.00.