Sunday, 11 June 2017

Gräfrather Klosterbräu - Solingen

It’s back to Germany and the Rhineland for this next post, which carries on from the visit we made to the Wuppertaler Brauhaus. After travelling back to Vohwinkel by means of the Schwebebahn Suspension Railway, we boarded a trolley bus travelling in the direction of Solingen station.

We were only on the bus a short while, before our tour leader said it was time to get off. The bus had journeyed up a steep hill out of the Wupper valley, but after crossing the road, and walking back a short distance in the direction we had just came from, we turned off down a steep side street which led us down into another valley and the small village of  Gräfrath.

As we arrived in the village we could see the Gräfrather Klosterbräu set back from the road, on the right hand side. This was the place our guide was making for, and it just so happened to be the second brew-pub of the day.

Gräfrather Klosterbräu is a much smaller establishment than the Wuppertaler Brauhaus, and is just a pub-cum-restaurant with a small brewery attached. Like most of the houses and other buildings in Gräfrath, Klosterbräu had a cladding of slates. We noticed quite a few other similarly-clad buildings on our journey back to Solingen, but the slate façade, combined with the green-painted shutters, certainly gave the pub a rather attractive look.

It was a warm sunny day, so we parked ourselves down at the wooden benches and tables at the front of the pub. Beer was the main thing on our mind, and noticing our presence, or possibly having heard it, a waitress soon appeared with some menus. Having already eaten, we were only interested in the liquid offerings, and we were pleased to see that the house-brewed beers were available in both 33 cl and 50 cl measures.

Not wishing to do things by halves, we all opted for the latter. I kicked off with the Zwickl; an unfiltered beer, whilst son Matthew went straight in on the Pils. There was also an Alt Bier and a Weizen available. Our tour guide gave the latter a try. Later on I switched to the Pils, but I preferred the Zwickl because of its fresh, natural flavour.

Apart from the Weizen, it  wasn’t possible to see the colour of any of the beers, as they were served up in half-litre, stoneware mugs or Krugs. These do have the advantage of keeping beer cooler for longer, but whilst I appreciate this characteristic, I do like to see the colour of the beer I am consuming.

There is a lot of truth in the saying that people drink with their eyes, and I have written on this subject before, but the saying of “When in Rome” applied that afternoon and I was just glad to be sitting there, chatting with friends enjoying the refreshingly cool beer whilst admiring the attractive village, literally a stone’s throw away down the cobbled street.

Apart from some pictures of the pub, I didn’t take any of the village, which I regret now, but I remember the church as being particularly attractive. I took a wander inside the pub, primarily to use the “facilities”, but also for a bit of nose around. The pub interior was divided up into several rooms, with the beams and walls painted white.  The laminated floor gave it quite a minimalist look, but despite this the pub still had quite a rustic feel to it.

Apart from the staff, there was no-one else inside, so us turning up out of the blue must have provided a welcome boost to trade. All 13 of use consumed at least a litre of beer apiece, and several members of our party (not me), had quite a bit more! Gräfrather Klosterbräu did seem rather upmarket, but in spite of this the beer prices were pretty keen at €3.70 for a half litre; certainly when compared to those back here in the UK.

Apart from the pub’s website, I have not been able to find out anything else about the place. The strengths of the beers were not listed on the menu, and there is no indication either of when Klosterbräu first opened as a brew-pub. Steve Thomas’s Good Beer Guide Germany doesn’t list the place, and neither does the updated, on-line list. I believe a couple of the avid “Untappd” users amongst our party, managed to locate, and indeed “tap” both the pub and the beers, but as I’m not a huge fan of “ticking” - electronic or otherwise, I wasn’t paying a huge amount of attention.

I meant to ask our guide how he found Gräfrather in the first place, especially as I know he is not an “Untappd” user, but I am grateful he managed to locate it and take us there. Gräfrather Klosterbräu is sufficiently far away from tourist areas, and the normal places frequented by visitors from afar, that it is necessary to make a special trip in order to sample the beers. For these reasons it is doubtful whether any readers of this blog will have been there. However, if  you do manage a visit,  I’m certain you will enjoy the pub, its beers and the picturesque surroundings.


BryanB said...

Keenly priced at €3.70 a half? That looks more like city prices to me, but perhaps I'm more out of date than I thought!

Paul Bailey said...

On reflection Bryan, the prices at Gräfrather were closer to what you’d expect to pay in a city. I seem to recall paying €3.60 - €3.70 in Munich, for a half litre, back in February. The beers at the Wuppertaler Brauhaus were 30 cents cheaper, as well.

Perhaps I should re-word that statement to say the prices were keen, when compared to those in the UK.

Dave said...

How actively is Steve Thomas' brewer list updated? I have not been able to tell. Seems a big job given the size of the book. Love the book.

Tandleman said...

Been there around three years ago, but even though it was a nice place, I don't believe I wrote about it. Good grub too. We ate there. A schnitzel of some sort I recall.

Paul Bailey said...

Dave, I am not sure how often Steve Thomas updates the Breweries List on his site. I will be forwarding the details of Gräfrather to him, in due course. I agree, his guide is excellent, but the sheer volume of research he undertook, to say nothing of the compilation, must have taken a considerable chunk out of his life.

You should have written about Gräfrather TM, even though it might have spoiled the sense of surprise we felt on “discovering it”. Any more hidden “gems” you’ve still got to share with us? We would have eaten there, had we not already done so at the Wuppertaler Brauhaus,