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Pub Visit - Germany

Dresden-Neustadt, Sachsen (Saxony):
Watzke Ausschank im Goldenen Reiter

Friday 11th April 2014

Bob Thompson

Goldenen Reiter 1This pub is extremely convenient to the city centre being just over the River Elbe from all of the Altstadt's many tourist hotspots such as the Swinger and the Frauenkirche. It is actually in Neustadt and ironically, many of the buildings nowadays are now very new. This wasn't always the case as the district was established in 1736. It was a continuation of the city already created by Augustus the Strong (1670-1733).

Goldenen Reiter 2He was the Elector of Saxony and was known as Frederick Augustus 1. He was also King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania where he was known as Augustus 11. He was a great supporter of arts and architecture and his greatest legacy is probably the aforementioned Swinger Palace, the seat of his throne. It was badly damaged by bombing during the Second World War. Since 1990 it has been restored to original condition.

Yet, one building that survived the destructive bombing was Moritzburg Castle, probably because it was away from the city in the nearby countryside. This was a hunting lodge of Augustus and is absolutely enormous, completely defying its purpose, as it is just another palace.

Goldenen Reiter 3It's well worth visiting and can by reached by a narrow gauge steam railway from Radebeul Ost station in the northern suburbs.

The railway is a remarkable survivor. It is part of the Dresden transport network and even has a train that goes out at 04.56 in the morning to collect schoolchildren travelling into the city at 06.11 from the other end. In the DDR days I often gazed at the castle across the lake from the train and wondered what its story was. There was not a lot of genuine history in communist East Germany and now finally I know.

Goldenen Reiter 4I realise that the above is a digression but it is relevant in a roundabout way. Back to Augustus; the great man was commemorated by a cast bronze statue of him riding a horse. It was covered in gold and was placed on the north side of the Elbe just over the bridge that bears his name: Augustusbrücke. It was known as the Goldener Reiter, the Golden Rider. It was destroyed during the war but there is now a replica on the same spot and it looks magnificent. Of course it gives its name to the pub opposite, the subject of this article.

Goldenen Reiter 5The Watzke im Goldenen Reiter is housed in a modern building yet it does have an interesting interior. The walls are adorned with paintings by Frau Fracht and Herr Krise, first names unknown, depicting various people as figures from history or tradespersons. There is a bar at the far end of the room that has some stools, fairly unusual in Germany.

But the crowning glory of the pub is the bell, the Johannes-Glocke, dedicated to St John the Baptist. This sits in the middle of the room and is struck mechanically every hour. It weighs 1220 kg and is a replica of one in the Frauenkirche and was a first casting that was not used.

This fabulously rebuilt church is visible from the front terrace of the pub. I remember when it was just a pile of stones, each numbered. The DDR government had always intended to rebuild it but it never got done. It has been now, though.

Goldenen Reiter 6Back in the pub, just beyond the bell can be found a statue of Gambrinus, the King of Beer. He appears all over the world and I've seen him in the USA, as well as Europe. In the Czech Republic he even has a beer named after him. Looking around the pub I could see that it is very comfortable with varnished light wood tables and upholstered seating.

I took a tall seat near the bar and ordered a Pils (5.0%). This was as expected, dry with slight citrus notes. The other beer is Altpieschen Spezial (5.2%) a light brown beer that doesn't actually fall into any particular category. I first visited this pub before I had gone to the main pub-brewery and thought it was a brew-pub with the brewery being out of site in the cellar, or somewhere. I was completely wrong as all three Watzke pubs have identical beer menus with it all coming from Pieschen.

There is a monthly special beer brewed and these are, according to month:
January: Schwarzbier, a black beer with a malty aroma and a little bitterness.
February: Doppelbock, strong, very malty and full-bodied.
March: Märzen, strong caramel taste, sweet and malty.
April: Geheimbier. This varies each year and this time it was Altpiechen Pils in the Czech style.
May: Maibock, very full-bodied with an amber colour.
June: Pieschner Hafenbier, with a red colour and rounded bitterness.
July: Helle Hefeweizen, fragrant wheat beer presumably, top-fermented.
August: Same as July.
September: Goldbock, a beer with caramel notes and a malty finish.
October: Festbier, a full tasting beer with a hoppy finish.
November: Rauchbier, a beer using smoked malts.
December: Honigbräu, a slightly hoppy dark beer using local honey.

So, as can be seen, there are plenty of reasons for visiting this pub, not least its great location and good beers. There is a full menu with regional specialities.

Important Information:

Watzke Brauereiausschank am Goldenen Reiter, Hauptstrasse 1, 01139 Dresden
Tel: 0351 810 6834

Open: Monday-Sunday 09.00-24.00

The tram stop is about 100 metres from the pub, it is called Neustädter Markt but is also referred to as Goldenen Reiter. It is served by trams 4 and 13.
The no 8 tram also serves the pub but its stop is on the Augustusbrücke and is around 200 metres away from the pub.