I see the dirty great hill one last time, walking down it towards the station, luggage in tow. Unfortunately, after descending the dirty great hill the gradient isn't flat. There's another susbstantial bump on the way to the station. In emphasises what torment walking up the dirty great hill would have been.
As the train draws into Neuhaus station, I spot something familiar next to the tracks. A brewery. Quite a substantial one, judging by the height of the conical fermenters. How odd. Kaiser Bräu, a sign says. Why odd? I've never heard of them. And I'm not in town to drink their beer. There's a far more special one in town. A communal one. They don't make Zoigl. Well, they don't call it Zoigl. It's exactly the same idea. Private citizens brew in a communal brewery, some just for their own use, others for sale.
On the walk to my hotel I see that special sign. A white and a blue triangle combined into a beautiful, six-pointed star. Looks like somewhere is selling the beer today.
Bags dumped and room checked into, I'm soon back out in the heat headed for my first taste of not-called-Zoigl.
Star aside, there's no sign of any description on the pub's exterior. Nothing so banal as a name. A fag machine on the wall sort of gives away its pubby identity. Inside it looks like a normal, if old-fashioned pub. Several groups of middle-aged men are already marching their way through pints and pork. It seems churlish not to join in.
It takes a while before the woman serving emerges from the kitchen. "Bier?" she calls from the counter. I nod enthusiastically and soon a frothing mug is before me. The few minutes' wait have left me frothing almost as much as the beer.
I wonder how this beer is classified by the style nazis? Let's see, it's amber in colour so they're bound to have called it a Märzen. Even though the gravity is way too low. I must remember to look it up later.
For once, music is playing. The radio. They seem to have some sort of Paul McCartney marathon going on. Bicycle Tyre* limps out as the second beer says hello to my throat. I say hello right back.
There'a a bit of an agricultural smell in the air that's adding brettanomyces aromas to the beer. I can live with that. The flies are more annoying. Keeping them off my bratwurst (excellent coarse ones, full of porky goodness) while I eat them is a struggle. Bugger off you little bastards.
After three, I tire of the never-ending struggle with the flies and go for a walk around town. Maybe I can find somewhere else open.
My hopes are soon dashed. The first pub I find is closed and up for sale. The second looks like a trendy young people sort of place. But that's also closed. As are the two pubs higher up the hill. I do spot what looks like the communal brewhouse, cowering beneath another imposing cliff-top castle.
Right next to it is an impressive Gründerzeit villa. Well, what would be an impressive villa, if it weren't empty and derelict. Mmm. Not the cheeriest of towns. I find other uninhabited buidlings on my walk. Which I abandon and head back to Gasthof Wolfsberg, my hotel. Mostly because I can't find another that's open.
The only customers are a family with several kids, who buzz aound, but in a much less annoying way than those flies. They don't settle on my hands or try to crawl into my glass. I decide that I much prefer children to flies. It's worth saying. Not every adult agrees.
I drink a beer from Kaiser Bräu, Veldensteiner Dunkles. It's not bad, sweeitsh with that indefinable nuttiness you get in a proper Bavarian Dunkles. What I call Lager Dark Mild. The name will catch on one day, I'm sure.
The country smell is even more evident outside. The fly annoyance generally similar. Added to the smell, there's a strange screaming noise, like someone strangling a drunken pensioner in a distant bathroom. It's only then I twig what's going. Despite us being right in the middle of town, there's a pig sty at the back of the pub yard. That explains the smell and the flies.
After the third beer, the flies annoy me less. As the sun begins to set, my spirits soar again. Without even the aid of spirits. Must be something in the air.
* I remember crazy Shane learning how to play it, back in 97 Brudenell Road, Leeds. He drove us all nuts strumming it constantly on his acoustic guitar. I could happily never hear it again. Even after more than 30 years.
Kommunbrauer Paul Reindl
Unterer Markt 3
Gasthof Pension Wolfsberg
Tel: 09156 998923
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