Jürgen Wening's Top 10 Picks
When he is not doing his day job or exploring Franconia trying to find the best beer, Jürgen Wening is also the force behind the Fränkisches Feldbahnmuseum.The museum preserves narrow gauge private railroads that were used in mining, foreestry and agriculture. The German term for these railroads is Feldbahn.
We think of Franconia was being part of Bavaria but historically it was much wide and today there are regions of eastern Baden Württemberg that still are culturally and lingustically part of Franconia. It is Jürgen who introduced me to the many fine breweries in this region.
1. Löwenbräu Vestenberg. I live just one and a half kilometres from this beautiful little village brewery. This beer is my measuring pole for all other franconian beers. I love the dark export beer especially. Could drink this every single day.
2. Goldochsen-Brauerei Spielbach. A real gem. A traditional farm brewery in the middle of nowhere and a time machine, too. Takes you back to a long gone time. Brews: A very malty Spezial beer and a dead strong winterbock. I love both the place and the beer.
3. Brauerei Schroll, Nankendorf. Theye brew a Vollbier Hell, Landbier and a Bock. I love the malty reddish Landbier because of the stunning diversity of emerging flavours. A great drink! How can you produce something like this without using magic?
4. Brauerei Wolf, Rüdenhausen. A very small village brewery, doing Pils and dark Landbier. Both are very good, but the amber coloured Landbier is of a different class. Toffeeish, strong, perfectly old fashioned.
5. Kommunbrauerei Neuhaus an der Pegnitz. Searching for a strong, hoppy beer, you won’t find anything better. The quintessence of beer. There are three brewing families involved and the beer quality differs from pub to pub. Try all of them and find out, which one’s the best!
6. Brauerei Penning-Zeissler, Hetzelsdorf. This brewery first introduced me to amber coloured Vollbier ‘Fränkische Schweiz style’. Still one of my favourites.
7. Schanzenbräu, Nürnberg. This new brewery brews three sorts of beer: Rotbier, Vollbier Hell and Schwarzbier, all of them excellent. I really love the Rotbier (red beer), a traditional Nurembergian beer sort, for it’s nutty, chocolatey flavours.
8. Brauerei Sauer, Rossdorf am Forst. If you’re looking for a perfect Braunbier (brown beer), that’s the place. A great drink full of interesting nutty flavours, best consumed in spring at the old romantic Keller.
9. Brauerei Prechtel, Uehlfeld. The brewery owns a beautiful Keller at Voggendorf, where they serve Prechtel Kellerbier. I like the flowery, grassy aromata of this otherwise fragrant and light beer. Sometimes it’s better from the bottle (‘Schnapperla’) than from the cask.
10. Brauerei Gradl, Leups. One of the best dark beers I know is made at this tiny brewery near Pegnitz, on the eastern fringe of the Fränkische Schweiz area. Some kind of a steam hammer. Don’t miss a visit.
Are bonus breweries allowed? If I had more space, I would add five more breweries to my top ten:
Witzgall, Schlammersdorf for the best hoppy Vollbier. Düll, Gnodstadt for the best Pilsener beer ever.
Barnikel, Herrnsdorf for atmosphere, the Rauchbier and a good dark beer, as long as it’s not infected.
Friedel, Schnaid for the best Zwickel. Schmetzer, Michelbach for perfect, strong beers and real old world atmosphere.