Monday, 9 July 2012

Pottenstein still

What to do on a murky afternoon in Pottenstein?  Go to the beer garden, of course.

Beer gardens are great when the sun shines and you need somewhere to cower away from its nasty stinging rays. But on days when the cloud cover barely covers the roofs, they're something really special. Days when your heart rejoices at the wonderful greyness of everything. You'll have to excuse me. I grew up in the 1960's, before colours were invented. My love for monochrome will never dim.

Surprisingly, given the cheery chill and grumpy skies, the beer garden is almost empty. Just a single couple. They look like they've run out of conversation as well as ideas of what to do next. I don't care. I dislike people almost as much as the sun. I'm happy to sit here with just me and the clouds. And maybe the odd spitty spat of rain.

Remember me mentioning the former Wagner Bräu brewery? We'll be getting back to them in a minute.

The beer garden is an open space scattered with picnic tables. Jammed between the shed where the food and drink is served and a small stream. I mean small. A few feet wide and probably not one deep. Yet there are quite a few what look like trout doing the swimming but standing still thing under a foot bridge. I discover why, when a father and young son stop on the bridge and start throwing stuff into the stream. They aren't daft, those fish. When I get myself a beer in the shed I notice they also sell fish food.

Pottensteiner Höhlentrunk is what I've ordered. There's a story behind the beer. But I'll describe it before I get into any long blurb. It's a crystal clear, pale gold, with a big head. Loads and loads of head. It took ages to pour. They've got the Co2 whacked right up again. After 10 minutes swirling it's down to a carbonation level I feel comfortable with and I can actually drink it. Not bad. Nicely hoppy, in a Franconian sort of way. Wort, pepper, tobacco and straw are words that come to mind.

When I go back to fetch a Schlehengeist (sloe schnaps) the bloke serving asks: "What are you doing with my beer?"

"Getting rid of the CO2. My stomach can't take it."

"You should get a Kellerbier. That's not as fizzy." Their other draught beer is St. Georgen Kellerbier.

Given the way he spoke of  "my beer" it seems a good chance to find out more about it. The landlord's family owned Wagner Bräu. Höhlentrunk is his grandmother's beer. When the brewery closed, they got it brewed under contract.

"Where's it brewed?" I ask.


I think I can guess the brewery. The St. Georgen Kellerbier on tap is a bit of a giveaway.

I try a St. Georgen Kellerbier next. It's not quite as fizzy as Höhlentrunk. But still way too much for my taste. But I feel embarrassed about giving it the full swirl treatment least the landlord be looking.

Customers dribble in and out, much like the drizzle. At least it isn't hot.

I have a surprise at breakfast. The guest house is so quiet, I'd assumed there were no other guests. Couldn't be farther from the truth. As I chomp through my boiled egg and sausage, the breakfast room fills up. Not exactly with youngsters. Everyone else is at least a decade older than me. Some look older than the octogenarian serving us.

While I'm waiting to pay, I chat with the granny waitress. She's the mother of the owner. At one point she uses a dialect word and apologises, fearing I haven't understood. I mention the incomprehensible granny at the Zoigl Stube in Neuhaus.

"Oh, those people from the Oberpfalz, they have a really thick dialect. My daughter went to school in the Oberpfalz. She'd come home and say 'my class is full of foreigners, I can't understand a word they say.'"

She then went on to talk about when the Americans turned up at the end of the war. "We weren't taught foreign languages. The only English word we knew was OK." Sounds like a very dangerous answer to give a GI. Depending on your age and sex.

Eighteen euros the night costs. With breakfast. The robbing bastards*.

* They're lovely people

Bruckmayers Biergarten
Am Stadtgraben 1-3
91278 Pottenstein,
09243 924450


Herrburgess said...

Good stuff. Love the observation about the taciturn couple. before we made it to Franconia, my buddy and I couldn't shut up about all the places we were planning to visit and the beers we were planning to drink. When we got there we often found ourselves sitting silently over our beers. What could we say? There was no other place we wanted to be and both of us knew it. Had all the time in the world to enjoy the silence -- and our beers.

dave said...

I see a Radler on the menu. One of the latest "beer fads" over here in America, though more breweries are doing Shandies then Radlers.