Tuesday, 27 July 2010


The bus has been hanging around outside the station. Our bus to Zoigl land.

It's going even further. To the Czech Republic. It doesn't look much like an international bus. More like the ones that pooter about Newark. But we're too excited to worry about that. We get off at the main square of Mitterteich. I'll tell you something. Mitterteich is a site more scenic than Wiesau. A proper little town. With people.

Mike would have walked right past. Luckily my beer radar is operating 100%. Admittedly, the half tree hanging outside is difficult to miss. A happy clinky chatter from inside confirms that there's some zoigling going on. We step inside.

A courtyard is filled with beer garden tables and chairs. We've timed our arrival well, and get seats. Time to look at the menu.

"Those thieving bastards, Mike. They want 1.70 for a half litre. And a couple of the meals cost more than four euros."

"Be serious for once."

Soon two over-priced beers are in front of us.

Hartwich Zoigl: full of beery deliciousnessness. Folkily, beerily good.

"This is perfect. A Zoigl butcher's. How can you get better than that, Ron?"

"We got the best thing on the menu, Ron. It's all meat."

"This is a cornucopia of meaty goodness, Ron."

"Big and small. They're my two favourite beer styles, Mike."

The beer is good. Really good. It slides down quickly, punctuated by mouthfuls of sausage and rye bread. The sausage is great. The bread's pretty good, too. Come to think of it, there's not a single thing I'd change. It's one of those perfect moments. Timeless afternoons that stay fixed in your memory. A treat to take out and savour in the cold, dark days of winter.

This is about as simple as hospitality gets. One self-made beer. Sausage and cold cuts from the in-house butcher. Basic furniture. Yet it's wonderful. Intimate, friendly, human. No clanking machines or blaring boxes. Just chatter and the ching of cutlery against crockery.

Joining in with the chatter and ching of the crowd, we idle away the afternoon. Gloriously. I've rarely felt more relaxed.  Four or five beers are consumed, almost as an aside. It's not just about the beer, though the fact it's Zoigl does add an extra zing. Gestalt. That's what it is. The perfect combination of a few simple elements. Food, beer, atmosphere. All perfection.

Mike had been concerned of disappointment. He needn't have been. It was just perfect.

Hartwich Zoigl
Angergasse 1,
95666 Mitterteich.


Mike said...

Well, the "disappointment" I feared was not that it wouldn't be good, but that it wouldn't live up to my ridiculously high expectations.

It actually surpassed my expectations, which may give some indication how wonderful it really was.

I was also happy to see that we were not the only people who appreciated the place. There was a steady stream of customers buying meat and/or beer during the several hours we were there. Also, we arrived at the end of the lunch service and were lucky to get seats - almost all were already taken.

We may have gone there primarily for the beer, but what we found was another bit of heaven.

ZakAvery said...

A propos of little else than zoigl being mentioned, I visited Budvar earlier this year, and sat next to Josef Tolar at lunch. We had a very nice chat (when I wasn't too scared to speak). I asked him if he'd ever heard of zoigl, and was surprised that he hadn't.

Oh, and I'm very jealous of your trip.

Rod said...

This is incredibly useful, as, by a strange coincidence, I am in Franken and Zoiglland at the beginning of September. Thanks very much!

Anonymous said...

Excuse my ignorance, but is it a kind of ancient pub sign the stick with the branches in the 1st picture?

Ron Pattinson said...

ealusceop, that bit of tree is the Zoigl. Or sign. It says that beer is on tap.

Nowadays a six-pointed star is more common as Zoigl. A tree is very old-fashioned. But part of an ancient practice. That used to exist in Britain, too. In Anglo-Saxon times, hanging out a bit of shrubbery meant exactly the same thing: beer available.

Ron Pattinson said...

Zak, Zoigl is so damn exciting. This was my first time in a real Zoigl Stube. I'd had the beer before, but that's only half the story.

Mark T said...

Hi Ron
This makes me regret zooming past here on the way to Chodova Plana last year!
We'll definitely be making a stop in this area at some point in the future.

Mark and Sarah T

Gary Gillman said...

There is an old expression, I believe in Shakespeare: "good wine needs no bush". I once read the bush had to do with twigs that were continually dipped in the yeast layer, to ensure the next ferment. However that may be, the bush denoted a vendor of wine or beer.


Paul Bailey said...

I'm also jealous of your trip!