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Pub Visit - Germany

Hartmann1Monday 19th September 2016

Bob Thompson

Hartmann would seem to be another contender for the “Oldest Brewery in Germany” award. There are many contestants but this one is let down by the fact that it has had many owners and there are some blank spaces in between.

Hartmann2It is first mentioned in 1550 when Cunz Gehring was the first tenant. However, the building used was said to be from around 1200, definitely in the “very old indeed” category. To be honest, one look at it tells you it is later than that, although it may incorporate parts of an older structure.

There were a number of landlords before Georg Roth who was running the pub and brewery when it was burnt to the ground during the destructive Thirty Years War. It was rebuilt and it became a posting inn and also a post inn. To explain, the pub is located on the Bamberg to Bayreuth road just at the point where the road begins climbing into the hills of Fränkishe Schweiz (Franconian Switzerland).

Hartmann3So, it was the obviously a place to change horses. A postal service was inaugurated by the Princes’ Thurn & Taxis in 1770 along this ancient road. In more modern days this aristocratic house operated a large brewery in Regensburg until it closed because of family debts in 1997, although beer under their name is still brewed by Paulaner who took over the company. More recently the family have opened a large pub-brewery in Regensburg known as Fürstliche Bräuhaus Thurn & Taxis, see separate article in BeerVisits.

So, the pub in Würgau was an overnight accommodation stop but also a Post Office from where letters and packets could be sent.

Hartmann4In 1803 the pub became the property of the Bavarian Free State. As this was during the Napoleonic Wars it can be assumed that the Thurn & Taxis princes owned it. In 1829 it is purchased by Margarete Hofmann and life continued quietly for almost a century.

The modern day era began on 13th June 1912 when Johann Hartmann of Plackenfels in Fränkishe Schweiz took over the property and the pub and brewery have been under that name ever since as it is still in the ownership of the same family.

Hartmann5In the early days this included a farm. Whether or not it was used for growing hops and barley is not known. In 1959 a new brew house (photo: above left) was constructed and the farming activities are increased. However, when Ambros Hartmann and his wife Reinholde take over the business in 1967 the agricultural side is discontinued.

An extensive renovation of the guest rooms is completed in 1976. A new bottle-filling line with a capacity of 9,000 bottles per hour is installed. Between 1996 and in 1997 a new keg filling plant is put in along with new cooling equipment. In 2014 the bottling was outsourced to another brewery.

Hartmann6On the occasion of my visit the bus from Bamberg to Würgau arrived fifteen minutes late and I had less than a half hour in the pub, not ideal! The 1959-built brew house is situated on the corner of the premises as can be seen in the photograph. It adjoins the pub itself. As I entered I turned right into what is the main bar room. There is another to the left. There were customers finishing their lunchtime repasts in both.

The floor in both rooms are flagstone. As befitting a pub that is almost in the forest there is a lot of wood used and very attractive it is too. It encompasses the ceiling and below that the wall panelling is wood. Naturally, the chairs and tables are the same. As is the bar counter, cupboards and doors. There were pot plants on every table and flowers in vases on the service counter.

Not having a lot of time to pick and choose I elected to have the standard Hell (light) (4.8%) beer. It was fine but I would have liked to try some of the other beers. They also had Edelpils (5.2%) and Felsenweisse (5.2%) on draught and a considerable number of bottled beers.

At various times of the year they have Bock (7.0%), Maibock (7.0%), Doppelbock (7.0%) and Oktoberfestbier (5.5%). These latter beers would be ideal to have if you were staying in the pub. No need to worry about getting home!

This is a very good pub and the food looked very good as well. So I commend it to you. Also, please don’t forget that it has an extensive biergarten for the warmer months.

Important Information:

Hartmann, Fränkische-Sweitz-Strasse 26, Würgau 96110. Tel: 0950 37444

Monday/Wednesday-Sunday: 08.00-24.00; Tuesday: Closed

The 969 Bus runs from the front of Bamberg station. It is essential to consult the timetable in detail. Monday to Friday there are four return trip possibilities but two of them only run during school days. On Saturday there is one possible round trip giving around four hours in Würgau, ideal in good weather to visit their biergarten. On Sundays there are two single journeys each way. Most of these buses continue right through to Bayreuth.