The Death of a Brewery in Erlangen: Kitzmann

Even in an area as rich in breweries as Franconia, losing one is never easy. Sadly, small breweries close every year for various reasons, but mostly due to the death or aging of the brewers. Some stop brewing and remain open as pubs, in the best of circumstances with a contract-brewed version of their beer. This is the case with Barnikel in Herrndorf. Less often, the pubs close and the brewery just sells its beer to other pubs or the public in bottles. Local legend Meister Bräu in Unterzaunsbach currently falls into this category. These small enterprises are often one-man or one-man/one-woman shows and though I’ve seen them run by people well into their 70s, at some point, it’s just not feasible.

cozy interior & entrance of Kitzmann Brauschanke

More odd is when larger breweries shut their doors. This is the case with the very surprising closure of Kitzmann in Erlangen on September 30, 2018. It came as quite a shock to the people of Erlangen, and even the employees of the brewery that had been open since 1712. It appears it just wasn’t lucrative enough, with falling beer sales and increased costs. At any rate, the classic old brewery will be torn down and replaced with condos. I’m sure Erlangen can use more housing, most German cities could but it will be a sad day when that 300 year old piece of history comes tumbling down.

excellent hot meals at Kitzmann were reason alone to drop by

On the bright side, the brewing rights have been bought up by Kulmbacher, who with some luck, will continue to brew the large portfolio of beers Kitzmann offered. They will also get the rights to provide beer to the annual the Bergkirchweih, one of the biggest Folk Festivals in Germany. That might not sound too exciting but the best part is the brewery tap across the street from the old brewery will remain open and hopefully serving up Kitzmann’s full range. With some sense, Kulmbacher will resist replacing some of the line with their own products, but only time will tell. I, for one, would much rather have a Kitzmann Pils than the Kulmbacher one that could be had in thousands of other restaurants.

Let’s hope the Kitzmann full range remains on offer

I hope so. I only made it to the brewery once in those 300 years and it was a beauty.  I managed to pop inside briefly to take a few photos and sat outside on a fine autumn day, under shady trees, sipping one fine Kitzmann Kellebier from a ceramic mug. Their Dunkles and Märzen were quite good, too. I wondered why I’d not made it there sooner and my wife, enamored with the Apfelküchle, and I made a vow to return soon. Well, it evidently wasn’t soon enough. We’ll still go back but I think no matter how good it might remain, we’ll be sad looking across at some condos rather than the old brewery. Somehow, it just won’t be the same.

Please note that the pub remains open and serving most of the former brewery’s line-up, sans their Dunkles. We’ve been back once for a great meal. Update here.

18 thoughts on “The Death of a Brewery in Erlangen: Kitzmann

  1. Now Erlangen, a town that likes to talk about “beer culture” only has one brewery left. What a bummer.

    On the bright side, the brewing rights have been bought up by Kulmbacher, who with some luck, will continue to brew the large portfolio of beers Kitzmann offered.
    I’m not optimistic in this regard.

    1. I hope you’re not right, Bernd but I can understand your skepticism. Definitely a bummer since the brewery that remains isn’t very good, at least on my one visit there.

  2. Is the one that remains Patrizer (SP)? I lived in Erlangen from 1986 to 1989 and always preferred Kitzmann and also enjoyed riding my bike past the brewery. I know times change and it has been a looooong time since I enjoyed a cold Kitzmann but still it is a sad day to think the brewery will be no more just like good old Ferris Barracks where I proudly served.

    1. Steinbach-Bräu is the other. It´s a newer place and not a favorite of mine. A friend was at the Kitzmann restaurant in November and server said the beer was still leftover from the brewery´s batches but would soon be the same beer, just brewed a hundred kilometers to the north. Let´s hope they keep brewing the same range and quality.

    2. I also served in Ferris Bks, ‘82-84. As a Military Policeman, Desk Sgt and interim Opns Sgt,, took a few tours with a couple of Polizei friends to the brewery. Some of the most friendly individuals I have met. The Fest Bier memories will always bring a smile. I feel as if part of my history has passed. RIP Kitzmann my old friend

      1. Why does your name sound so familiar?! I, myself was stationed there at that Tim period with the 501st MPs at Farris barracks. You remember a Doug Hall that did makeup effects?

  3. Sad to hear . Only had the Kitzmann beer once but enjoyed it in Keenesburg Colorado.

    1. Haven’t been back yet, Dennis but a friend was there last year and he said the beer was great. A take over is always sad but some work out okay and to me better than a complete closure. Lots of the latter happening unfortunately.

  4. I was in Erlangen this week, I stayed at the Novotel. I always ordered Keller Bier and they had it poured automatically when they saw me. They informed me that Kitzmann closed. Was sad. I did go to their beer garden and enjoyed a Keller bier there, if it was from the new brewer I could not tell. Sad to see the old architecture of Erlangen slowly disappearing. Glad I found your blog.

    1. It is sad but glad to hear you thought the beer was still up to par. I hope to get up there soon but so many real breweries to get back to, as well! Thanks for enjoying.

  5. OMG !!! This was my favorite beer when I was stationed in Germany!! How sad to see it close. I really hope the Kitzmann beer will still be brewed and bottled??? That would be safest part of all if nobody brews the Kitzmann beer.

  6. Served the Army in Erlangen’s Ferris Barracks for 15 years and quickly became a disciple of Kitzmann and have been since. Became friends with Herr Maderer the Braumeister and we shared a “Mass Krug” or two at the Kirchweih each June. It’s always a shame to see such staples fade away. Nothing but great memories of my time served in Erlangen and my beloved Kitzmann was a very big part of them!

    1. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, Michael. It took me a long time to give the brewpub a try but glad I got there before its closing. A friend went afterwards and reportedly the beer was still good and food great. The thing I always worry about is them getting rid of some of the styles. From what I see on their website, they now have Monschof Schwarzbier (a great one) instead of the Kitzmann Dunkles. I always hate to see one less beer.

  7. I’m saddened to hear this news. As a Kitzmann in the USA, it has always been with a sense of pride that I’d tell the tale of the oldest family brewery in Germany. Older relatives and some cousins made it there, but it’s gone before I could make my trip to see the actual brewery.

    1. It’s still worth checking out if in the area, David. Everyone was sad to see it go. The old restaurant is still there and they have Kitzmann beers brewed in Kulmbach. I have not seen what has happened with the old brewery but it was planned to become apartments. It would be nice if the building itself remained intact with apartments within. I would hope it would be a protected building but we know how that goes in the modern world. Thanks for enjoying the article and hope you make it to the former brewery someday.

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