Thursday, 9 August 2007

Klosterbrauerei Weissenohe. Brauerei Hofmann

We're now getting to my favourite part of the journey. Where each beer was more characterful than the last and nothing disappointed. In case you're losing the thread, this is still just the second day. Lots more to go, I'm afraid.

Klosterbrauerei Weissenohe
Klosterstr. 20,
91367 Weissenohe.
Tel: 09192 -591
Fax: 09192 - 8052

Another beautiful monastery church I didn't enter. My excuse was watertight this time: it was closed. Odd, as it was Sunday. Fortunately the pub was open. Someone has their priorities right.

After so many examples of 1970's light pine folksiness, the Stube was a welcome example of genuine age. Like one of the nicer Prague beer halls. My photo gets a bit of the feel, though fails miserably to illustrate our fellow customers. Aged couples, families with kids, middle-aged loner with mum. A cross-section of of the community.

I was much taken by the delicious-looking plates of pork and dumpling, decorated with a blue and white flag, which kept floating past. Mmmm. That looks nice. Forcing an egg down an breakfast seemed a lifetime away. I was tempted. But not tempted enough to ignore the beer.

Four draughts: Altfränkish (amber), Dunkel, Pils and Hefeweizen. Unusually for Germany, they have a sampler tray of all four, either 10 or 25 cl. Dunkles. I always go for Dunkles first. All those years of drinking Tetley's Mild have left their mark. Stonch went for a larger set of samplers and seemed to almost instantly regret his decision. Good to know I wasn't the only casualty of the previous night's skirmish.

Hair of the dog. What a strange expression. But the concept works. I felt a new man about half way down the Märzen (they have it in bottles). No, it wasn't the middle-aged loner I felt. I was revived.

Both beers I tried were pretty decent. "Malty, nutty, slightly smoky" - that's what my notes say about the Dunkles. Obviously, I was still only semi-human when I wrote that. Surely there must be something better about the Märzen "malty, smooth, quite pleasant". Not exactly Michael Jackson level, is it? Never mind. I would happily drink either again.

With a yearly output of over 20,000 hl, they are larger than most of the breweries we visited. Two new conical fermenters lying outside the brewery were a worrying sign.

Brauerei Hofmann
Hohenschwärz 16
91322 Gräfenberg
Tel: 09192 -251

There are some places you immediately love. You feel a warmth, a cosiness. Instinctive reading of body language is what I put it down to. You sense the contentment of your fellows and relax. Hofmann is like walking into a sauna.

After seeing the food in Weissenohe, I had feared that moving on for lunch was a bad idea. Then I noticed the same dumpling/pork combination. No need to consult the menu, then.

Why are some people so against children in pubs? It's crazy, when you analyse it. The presence of families acts as a natural restraint on the rowdy. And who will be the future customers of pubs? In Germany it's totally normal to take your kids along. Maybe that's why pubs there are so less violent than in the UK.

Regular readers will already have seen the lump of pork I ate. Very nice and just under 7 euros. A bargain. After we'd eaten, Frau Hofmann broke off from her cooking duties to show us the brewery. You could have mistaken it from the outside for a barn.

I won't waste words describing it. Photos will work much better. And it's nearly teatime and I have to hurry or my food will get cold.

They like to keep things simple around here. The menu only has a round a dozen items. There's just one draught beer and bottled Hefeweizen. Makes life easy for the waitresses.

A similar principle operates at the brewery. The brewer (and cook) Frau Hofmann is the fifth generation of the family. She and her sisters (an identical twin also works in the kitchen) take care of the pub, too. Their one beer only has four ingredients. That's including water and yeast. Vienna malt and Hallertau hop pellets are the other two.

This where the Dunkles (and my notes) started getting better: "roast, smoke, liquorice, pepper, nuts" I identified. That means "very nice" in plain English. At least for me it does. I like these Franconian Dunkles with their generous use of hops. A completely different type to Munich Dunkles if you're being a style Nazi. I much prefer the hoppy Fanconian variety. Any home brewers might be interested to learn that the colour comes from a variety of malts. Sometimes it's Farbmalz, sometimes Caramelmalz, sometimes even Vienna Malt. The one thing I never heard mentioned was Munich malt.

Hofmann do bottle their Dunkles Export, but it isn't distributed. You need to knock on the brewery door if you want to buy some. (I've got two bottles. But they're all for me.)


Anonymous said...

Are these Dunkels you mention wheat beers or lagers? Most fascinating about the absence of munich malt. And the Altfränkisch you had at the Klosterbrauerei Weissenohe - was it a lager? How did it taste? (Sorry, I know you had a million beers out there.)

Ron Pattinson said...

When I say Dunkles I mean a dark lager.

Altfränkisch is an amber lager. As I recall (I just had a sip of someone else's) it wasn't much different from the Märzen: malty, a bit nutty, moderately hoppy.

Anonymous said...

So... a Dunkles made with 100% Vienna malt? What colour was it? Are they doing long decoctions, boiling over a wood fire, etc. to get colour?

A standard gravity beer made with 100% Vienna by modern methods could pass for a Helles (I know because I've done it - with Weyermann Wiener Malz.)

Ron Pattinson said...

I would call it's colour mid brown. About like La Trappe Dubbel.

Funny you should mention a wood fire. That's why I've got a photo of wood and coal. They use those to fire a boiler. Though they don't use direct heat on the copper.

My Weyermann's booklet lists Vienna malt as having an EBC value of 7 to 9. Slightly darker than their pale ale malt at 5.5 to 7.5. But Hofmann don't use Weyermann malt. Most of the breweries did, but not Hofmann. So I'm not sure how dark Vienna malt is.

I was surprised when the brewer said she used 100% Vienna malt. The finished beer was much darker than I would have expected.

Anonymous said...

Funny you should mention a wood fire. That's why I've got a photo of wood and coal.

Oh dear. I guess it is 5am here - think I'll go with that as my excuse.

Stonch said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stonch said...

Yes, the Wiessenohe dunkles was indeed smoky - just about the smokiest beer we had (excluding the rauchbiers, naturally).

I look very hungover in that photo. I think I started recovering on my second mug of Hofmann, and felt sweet as from then on.

Anonymous said...

The Weißenoher beers are quite disappointing when compared to real Klosterbier(s). This is perhaps in part because the brewery hasn't been an actual *Kloster* brewery for a couple of centuries now. The Kloster was secularised in 1803, sold off to private parties, and the last brewing monk gave up in 1827.

The family that's owned the brewery ever since gave up the Biergarten/Gaststätte during WWII, and only reopened them in 2000.

From what I understand, there's nothing "Kloster"ish about the brewery or's just another private brewery. Calling them "Klosterbiere"...not sure if I should say this is disingenuous or not, but...

Never been impressed with them--a bit husky and just not quite, well, right.

Next time you're down, we'll go for quaLity over quaNTity! Would like to have met you & Andy--the latte to try and suggest some better places for next time!

Shame you lot didn't get to a couple of authentic Klosterbrauereien--Mallersdorf and Kreuzberg. The former, which I've yet to visit, is run by the world's only brewing nun. The latter is in a spectacular mountain/hill-top location. (Not that Weltenburg isn't an authentic Kloster in a spectacular location, mind.)

Ron Pattinson said...


the Weissenohe beers were pleasant enough, but Hofmann was much better. Will, too. And Aichinger.

The whole Klosterbiere bit is often fantasy rather than fact. Most are just small commercial breweries operating from a former monastery. Nothing wrong with that, if the beer quality is good.

If you offered me a pub in Amsterdam selling Weissenohe's four draught beers, I would go there and drink them. World-shattering they aren't, just good, solid beers.

Will. Now there really was an outstanding beer. It got my highest mark.

Surely you must love Frau Hofmann's quirky Dunkles? Or at least her dumplings. She trapped me with her dumplings.

"Come on love. Show me your dumplings."

Anonymous said...

AFA the authenticity of "Klosterbier" goes, well, there are breweries which are operated monastically, and those that ain't. (And those who contract their brewing out to a brewery?) In this case, it's pretty simple--there are two breweries in Franken that I know of that call their beers "Klosterbier", but which are completely secular: Weißenohe and Vierzehnheiligen (also unimpressive beers, given the region).

AFA Hofmann--I didn't know the brewer is a Brauerin (breweress)! That place *is* wonderful; bummer is that the bottled beer is often butterscotchy. It's a pretty hard 2 hour bike ride for me to get there, and now that you mention it, I ain't been there yet this summer.

Who am I to question Andy's itenerary? I just don't get some of his choices in breweries to visit. The fränkische Schweiz is so *loaded* with great little places, like Br. Ott a couple of miles farther up the road from Aichinger, which I'd have recommended in lieu of Aichinger, for example.

Ich freue mich auf deinen weiteren Kommentar!

Ron Pattinson said...

I have no complaints about Andy's choices. Rest days ruled out some breweries, in any case.

In my opinion, the Vierzehnheiligen Nothelfer Urdunkel Export is a pretty good beer. I scored it 76 out of 100. It was quite different to the hoppy Dunkles mostly on offer in Franconia, but still damn tasty.