Abensberg, Bayern (Bavaria):
Gasthaus "Zum Kuchlbauer"
Thursday 10th January 2013
During a visit to Abensberg you will see the name of Kuchlbauer a lot. So much so that you might not realise that there are another two breweries here. It is fair to say that they dominate the town, literally as well as metaphorically, as we will find out.
The brewery claims to have originated in 1300 in the middle of town. However there seems to be no substantive evidence to back this up. What we do know is that was it taken over in 1751.
The name Kuchlbauer is a dialectic word for someone who comes from a farm that supplies a kitchen. The kitchen in question was that of the Bishop of Regensburg, the nearest big city (and a good one for beer, too!). So, a Kuchlbauer from Regensburg gained control of the brewery in 1751. It has been in the hands of the same family, Salleck, for the last eight generations. In those days it brewed just Braunbier and Weissbier (brown and wheat beers).
Before I visited the Brewery tap "Zum Kuchlbauer" in the Stadtplatz (town Square) I walked to the brewery which is just outside what is left of the town's walls.
The building is exactly what you would expect, but what surrounds it, is undoubtedly bizarre. It would seem that the current owners of the brewery are patrons of the arts as they commissioned the construction of a very odd tower in the Biergarten. It was designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser (crazy name, crazy guy!) and is a homage to Bavarian brewing, although by looking at it you'd never guess. Hundertwasser is an extremely well-known architect and many examples of his work can be found in Wien (Vienna).
The strange Kuchlbauer Turm is an important part of Kuchlbauer's Bierwelt (Bier und Kunst). This translates as Kuchlbauer's Beer World (Beer and Art).
The tower was completed in 2010. A tour is available that includes the tower, gardens, brewery (including a look at a reproduction of "The Last Supper" by Leonado da Vinci in the cellar and visiting the "wheat beer dwarves"). It ends with a beer sample, which you will probably need after that.
On the other side of the brewery is the Kunsthaus (Art House) also in the strange, almost dreamlike, style of the tower.
This was mostly designed by Hundertwasser's pupil Peter Pelikan (what is it with these Austrian architect's names. I had to double-check that this was serious). Inside is nothing more exciting than an art exhibition, shop and Viennese café.
I walked back to the town centre passing the brewery and tap of Ottenbräu, the third of Abensberg's breweries and the smallest. Sadly it was closed on this day because of the extended Christmas and New Year holiday. If I explained that the town is located in the Hallertau hop-growing region it is probably explains why there are three breweries in such a small place.
In the Stadtplatz (Town Square) I found the imposing frontage of the Brauereigasthof "Zum Kuchlbauer" which was once, a very long time ago, the home of the brewery. Interestingly it is opposite the tap of Hofbräu, but unlike that premises which has been modernised, Kuchlbauer is stanchly old school. It was built in 1751 and inside it is very traditional. There are many rooms but the main bar room is the first in from the front door. It is wood-panelled to head height and above that I noticed old advertisements for the brewery. The tables are scrubbed wood and the whole feeling of the room is ambient.
In the early 1970s Kuchlbauer decided that they would become a wheat beer only brewery. This was a brave decision as the wheat beer revival hadn't really started at that time.
Today they brew four varieties and three of them were offered on draught when I visited. First was the normal beer Hefe-Weizen (5.2%) and it was slightly more bitter than this style usually is. Next I had Alte Liebe (5.2%), whose name loosely translates as (the) Old Times. This is a brown version which I thought was OK, having a big Malt taste and a slightly bitter finish with not too much sweetness. The final tasting was Aloysius (7.2%). This massive beer was a double wheat bock. It was deep and intense and, surprisingly, I enjoyed it.
So this pub is well worth a visit, especially if you are a devotee of wheat beers.
Gasthaus "Zum Kuchlbauer", Stadtplatz 2, Abensberg 93326. Tel: 094 431 484
Open: Wednesday to Monday 10.00-24.00. Tuesday: Closed.
The railway station is around ten minutes from the town centre.
There is more one than way to get to the pub but this is probably the easiest as it takes you by the other beery attractions of the town. From the station forecourt you can see Bahnhof Strasse leading away slightly to the right. To make sure you get the right road take the one with the hotel in it.
After a few minutes you will have reached Schulhausplatz.
To the right you will see Römerstrasse and the Kuchlbauer brewery.
However, turn left into Ulrichstrasse and you will pass the Ottenbräu brewery and pub on the left.
Just before this turn right into Karmeliten-platz. Go past the Kloster church and then turn left into Stadtplatz, pass the Hofbräuhaus on the right and the brewery tap of Kuchlbauer is on the left.
Update October 2017. Hours: Monday / Saturday: 10.00-23.00; Tuesday: Closed;
Wednesday to Friday: 11.00-23.00; Sunday: 10.00-17.00.
On the map below the Stadtsplatz is 1, the Kuchlbauer brewery and tower are 9, the Ottenbräu brewery is a few metres north of 10 and the Hofbräu brewery and shop can be found by the stadium indicated in the top right corner.