Monday 10 October 2022


After a bit of a deliberation, we bought breakfast when we checked in. Let’s see what it’s like.

Dolores goes first. She’s disappointed.

“They only have a couple of different sorts of meat and cheese. Not worth the money.”

But I can smell bacon. Around the back of the breakfast bar there’s one of those stainless-steel hot food thingies. In it are scrambled egg, bacon and sausages. I pile my plate with the first two.

“Where did you find that?”

“Around the back.”

For me, the breakfast is OK. Not great, but good enough. Dolores is distinctly less happy.

We trundle our trolley bags down to the station in time for a quick visit to Lidl. To take back some empties and stock up for the journey. Dolores is very well organised. I wait and guard the luggage. Luckily, seated in one of the few benches.

Our train is a fairly small diesel. And quite full. Just as well Dolores is with me to grab seats. She’s such a helpful travelling companion.

I’ve prepared a train drink. Cheap bourbon and diet cola. In a half litre cola bottle. Mmm. Warming.

“Don’t go crazy with that, Ronald. It’s strong.”

“When did I ever go crazy?”

You can guess what happened next.

The railway follows the Pegnitz. I’ve been down this way before. Years ago with Anti-American Mike.

“Look at that castle, Dolores.” It is dead impressive. It looks familiar. Then I spot the Kaiser brewery. In know where this is. It’s Neuhaus. Home to a Zoigl that isn’t called Zoigl. Doesn’t have a name at all, actually.

I say “is” home. Was would be more accurate. The communal brewhouse has been converted into a house. A shame, because it was a really good and distinctive beer. Though the flies in the beer garden were dead annoying.

We’re changing in Bayreuth. We arrive a little late, still with plenty of time to make the connection. The platform is packed with schoolkids. Who all tip onto the slightly larger diesel with us. I’m lucky to get a seat.

“Out in the sticks, the buses are mostly run for schoolchildren. Often me and Anti-American Mike were the only adults on the bus.”

“That must have been weird.”

“Well, I did feel a little self-conscious tucking into impulse Schnapps.” It didn’t stop me, though.

Picking the wrong way to walk to the hotel, we have to sprint over a main road with our bags. More excitement than I need. The hotel is over the road from the huge conical fermenters of the Kulmbacher Brauerei.

No matter hard we try, we can’t connect to the wifi network. Dolores has a word with the bloke on reception. Who gets a colleague to do some resetting. It doesn’t help. We give up and head into town.

It doesn’t take long. Kulmbach isn’t a large town. Dolores is slightly disappointed, despite it being fairly scenic.

“I expected it to be older.”

I can’t see what she’s complaining about. From the compact market place there’s a great view of the castle literally towering over the town. 

“Every town in Franconia has a castle.” I remark. At least that’s how it seems.

Pubs are thin on the ground. Fortunately, the bloke in the hotel gave Dolores a map, on which he marked the town’s few pubs.

One just off the market square, Zum Petz, is open. A couple of smokers are sitting outside. Inside, a couple of people are on the Stammtisch. Not very lively.

It’s a small, old-fashioned looking place, Like a miniature beer hall with leaded windows, panelled walls and pine-topped tables. Small, but perfectly formed.

Inevitably, the beer is from Kulmbacher Brauerei. In the form of Monschof. They do have Kellerbier, though. We order two. It tastes very fresh and the heavy carbonation creates an almost banked head. Better than I expected.

A tourist couple wanders in and orders food. Now we’re not totally alone, other than the landlord’s mates. Which is nice.

Dolores being keen to see a bit more of the town, we leave after just the one. Heading in the direction of another pub marked on the map. Off the market place, the streets are pretty empty. Scenic, but rather lifeless.

The town centre is mostly sort-of pedestrianised. It all looks like pavement, except occasional cars roll past. That’s nice and confusing.

Halfway down a somnolent street is another small pub, Zur Birke. It’s in a similar style to the last place. Not quite so worn in, mind. The wood hasn’t had time to turn to that lovely shade of dark brown. “Nappy brown” as our ancestors would have so colourfully described it.

The sign outside proclaims Kulmbacher, totally unsurprisingly. But when I ask the friendly waitress what they have on draught, she tells me that they have a Dunkles from Krug Bräu, a small brewery in the Fränkische Schweiz. Oooh, that sounds good.

It’s a seductive dark amber, with a fat fluffy head. It certainly looks the part. And it is. Packed with deep malt flavours.

“I’m pretty sure I’ve had this before, Dolores. Good, isn’t it?”

“Lovely.” Dolores is drinking the same as me for once. She does like a good beer. She is German, after all.

With an early evening appointment, there’s no time for a second beer. Which is a shame.

Restaurant Zum Petz
Langgasse 3,
95326 Kulmbach.

Gasthaus zur Birke
Fischergasse 17,
95326 Kulmbach.


Matt said...

That Dunkles looks like a proper Franconian beer. My first draught one, when I arrived in Bamberg on the train from Nuremberg just before closing time a decade ago, was a Zwergla in Fässla, which didn't disappoint either.

Phil said...

Objection! The phrase "nappy brown ale" had nothing to do with the contents of nappies, or in fact with the colour of the ale. "Nappy" is an archaic word for "fluffy", from "nap" as in the nap of a billiard table (there's a Stevie Wonder song where he remembers being a "nappy-headed boy") - so the phrase refers to brown beer with a good head on it. Like what you two were drinking.

Chris said...

Have you visited Kulmbacher Kommunbräu as well? Run by the citizen of Kulmbach

Ron Pattinson said...


I stand corrected.

Ron Pattinson said...


yes, I did. It's just a bit further up the street from Zur Birke.