Thursday, 5 October 2017

Regensburg in late September

Our holiday in Regensburg, at the end of last month, was the third visit to the city for my son and I, and the second for my wife. The lad and I made our first visit back in 2008. Matt was only just legally old enough to drink beer in Germany; sixteen being the age when citizens can enjoy a beer for the first time, with the full blessing of the law.

I look back on that trip with fondness, as left to our own devices we managed to pack one hell of a lot of beer exploration into the week we spent in Regensburg, managing  to sample beers from all of the city’s four breweries, as well as visiting a fair number of its pubs. One day, if only for the sake of completeness, I will write up the beery experiences of that first holiday.

A hectic schedule like that is not really possible with a non-drinking wife in tow, as it would not really be fair dragging her around all those pubs and beer gardens, but we still managed to visit a fair number of places, and to enjoy some really good beers. We were, after all in Bavaria, where good beer, hearty food and a friendly welcome go hand in hand and where, even in the most basic café, it is possible to get a decent glass of beer.

The brewery whose beers are the most widely available in Regensburg is Bishofshof. The brewery itself is situated in the suburbs, a mile or so to the south-west of the city centre. The lad and I walked out there, on that first trip, and sat out in the small beer garden which forms part of the brewery tap. Unless you are a fully paid-up beer geek, there is no need for such dedication, given the widespread availability of Bischofshof beers in the city; although people obviously visit the Braustuben attached to the brewery to enjoy an out of town drink.

Bischofshof produce a wide range of beers, but as with many German breweries, some of these beers are quite hard to distinguish from others in the range. On the last two trips, we have drunk the company’s beers mainly in bottled form, and the brew which seems most widely available; certainly within the Altstadt, is Zoigl.

Those who know anything about German beer styles, will realise that a beer produced by a commercial brewery is not a true “Zoigl,” but the name seems to have been appropriated for any un-filtered, hazy beer, which is drawn fresh form the cellar tanks. The Bischofshof Zoigl was on the cloudy side of hazy, but nevertheless was a refreshing and tasty beer.

Beers from Brauerei Kneitinger can also be found all over Regensburg. Their brewery is on the edge of the pedestrianised Altstadt, just off Arnulfsplatz, and virtually next door to the recently restored Velodrome. The company have a pub fronting on to Arnulfsplatz at the front of the brewery. Matt and I went in on a couple of occasions, during our 2008 visit, but have not been back subsequently. From memory it was slightly on the basic side, and very much a locals’ place, but none the worst for that.

Alte Linde
Kneitinger also have a beer garden in the form of the Kneitinger Keller, on the other side of town, to the south of the station, which again remains un-frequented by members of the Bailey family; at least since that first visit. This time around though we enjoyed Kneitinger beer in the beer garden of the much more refined Alte Linde; which I mentioned in my introductory post.

Alte Linde was a real gem of a place, plus a real find, and with its shady beer garden directly over-looking the main branch of the Danube, I can think of few better places to spend a sunny, early afternoon. All three of us chose what turned out to be a rather filling Schnitzel which, at just €7.95 a throw, was also excellent value. The lad and I also had a couple of refreshing glasses of Kneitinger Edel-Pils, whilst Mrs PBT’s had a bottled Alkoholfreibier.

We took a look inside, on the way back from using the facilities. As in many German pubs, these were downstairs, but at Alte Linde there is a spacious dining room on the lower ground floor.  I imagine this extensively glazed and south-facing room is a real sun-trap during the winter months. Combine this with the views of Regensburg just across the river, and you have your own little bit of heaven.

Next on the list is St Katharinen Spital Brauerei (usually known as Spital Brau), who are the oldest brewery by far in Regensburg, with a history dating back to 1226. I wrote about the brewery and its lovely beer garden last year, and also described their new range of English-style beers, such as Pale Ale, IPA and  Chocolate Stout, which are sold under the Regensburger Spital Manufaktur brand.

My son and I called in at Spitalgarten on the Friday afternoon, for a spot of late lunch. This was prior to walking round to the Brewery Shop to pick up some more Spital Manufaktur bottles. The garden was the quietest I've seen it, but this may have been due to the renovation work taking place at the brewery and adjacent beer hall complex. The Spital Helles was as  good as we both remembered it, but the only new bottle I picked up was a 2.8% Summer Ale, which I've yet to sample.

This time around we didn't manage a visit to the Regensburger Weissebräuhaus;  a brew-pub close to the main shopping area. We also missed sampling beers from Thurn und Taxis who, up until 1996, were the fourth major brewery in Regensburg. 

The Thurn und Taxis dynasty were were once Germany's richest and most profligate feudal aristocratic family. Their fortune was built on the private postal service which they operated, as a virtual monopoly, across much of central Europe. The postal service ended in 1867, but the family had many other interests, including forest, banks and South American cattle ranches.

Death duties, following the death of the 11th Prinz von Thurn und Taxis, along with other debts, forced the sale of a number of assets, including the Thurn und Taxis beer brands. These were acquired by Paulaner of Munich in 1996, who continued production of the Thurn und Taxis beers. The company's  Regensburg brewery closed, and I remember seeing it, all sad and forlorn, in its location overlooking the Kneitinger Keller.

Now here comes the strange part. Several months ago, on my last visit to Beers of Europe at Kings Lynn, I picked up a couple of bottles of Thurn und Taxis Pilsner. The address on bottle was given as Fürstliche Brauerei, Am Kreuzhof 5, 93055 Regensburg. A look on Google Maps reveals this as an industrial location to the east of the city centre.

It is unclear as to whether  the building shown on the map is a brewery, or just a distribution centre, but it would be good news if Thurn und Taxis beers were once again being brewed in in Regensburg.

Whatever the situation, this brief summary of Regensburg's brewing scene, should point the thirsty traveller in the right direction, and  assist the beer lover to track down the best the city has to offer.


Dave said...

Interesting you saw Bishofshof so frequently. We managed to never have one while in Regensburg for three days. From your post it can only be an oversight on our part.

Russtovich said...

The Alte Linde is indeed a gem of a place. If I lived near it I'd be there a few times a week! Shady in the summer and a south facing sun room in the winter sounds like heaven. If I ever make it over there I'll have to keep that one in mind.

And I checked out the Maufaktur offerings from Spitalbrauerie. Some nice "British" type beers there. And reasonably priced as well.

I'm sure you're taking a few bottles back from the area when you go home. :)


Paul Bailey said...

On our first (2008) visit Dave, we had a couple of glasses of Bischofshof at the Hotel Bischofshof Am Dom; a rather upmarket establishment just around the corner from the cathedral. I’m not sure if there’s a tie up between the two, but probably not, as the hotel is not listed on the Bischofshof website. As mentioned, our hotel sold bottled Zoigl, but there were a number of cafes and restaurants serving either Urhell or Original 1649,(bottles again).

The brewery is the best place though, to enjoy Bischofshof beers, but it is a 20-25 minute walk from Arnulfsplatz, in a roughly westerly direction.

I did bring back a few bottles of Spital Manufaktur beer, Russ. The only new one was the 2.8% Summer Ale. The intriguing sounding Chocolate Stout is unfortunately, a winter beer only. A Christmas trip might be necessary?

Russtovich said...

"A Christmas trip might be necessary?"

Indeed! :)