I couldn’t help but think about the time while chatting with my host. She was about as nice a lady as one could hope for in a host but I did have a tour of Falkenberg’s communal brew house at 9:00 and breakfast was stretching out much longer than I’d anticipated. Typically, your host brings out the food and leaves you to it and since I was the only one staying in the small B&B, I had figured on finishing packing after my morning feed. Occasionally, you get a few questions about your activities the previous day/evening but she was quite content to sit with me and get into a proper conversation. It didn’t help that she wasn’t eating so didn’t need to worry about such commonplace things like chewing and talking at the same time, in a foreign language no less. I would have relapsed into English if she hadn’t mentioned how good my German was, something I am not sure I’d ever heard before.
Falkenberg Castle was just outside my door
It probably didn’t help that I wasn’t feeling shall we say 100%. I’d hiked in from Mitterteich the previous day, had a big lunch with a few Zoigl at the Kramer-Wolf Zoiglstube and done another hike in the afternoon to use for my book Beer Hiking Bavaria. I’d rested a little late afternoon before returning for another session of Zoigl. I had to admit I liked it better than the Schwoazhansl Zoiglstube up the road, our venue the last time in Falkenberg and wasn’t about the pass up going again.
Zoigl & mixed meat plate at Kramer-Wolf Zoiglstube
I pried myself from the table, explaining my appointment and finished packing hastily. I didn’t have a whole lot with me but what I did have needed to be crammed into a relatively small backpack. I was backpacking from town to town since the public transport is spotty at best and I was, after all, here to research hikes for the book. I had a fair walk in front of me and to be honest, my desire to visit all of the communal brew houses was waning and it was only my second one. I figured how different could each one be but I was to find out that no matter how similar a place may be, the people in that place are all the variables necessary to keep things interesting.
the communal brew house was just next door & someone was in the house
Thankfully, the brew house was less than a minute from where I was staying so I was there with a few minutes to spare. I was happy to see the door open but when I walked in, the guys inside didn’t seem to know who I was or why I was there. In fact, they were not my guides but were there to pick up their batch of Zoigl. I explained my situation and they pointed at the clock on the nearby church tower and said it wasn’t 9:00 yet. I asked if I could take some photos in the event there was no tour forthcoming and they said sure.
Click on image for slide show:
So, I waited. And waited. And soon, they called me back over and asked who I’d made the arrangements with. I showed them the e-mail from the tourist information office. They made some calls and it appeared my guide wasn’t coming but the mayor was on his way. Of course, this was in German and it was the Burgmeister, who will forever be the man who taps the first keg at the Oktoberfest in Munich for me. I know it is the mayor but it’s the only context I really have. At any rate, about ten minutes later, none other than the mayor showed up. He was quite apologetic and I felt a bit embarrassed to drag him from whatever non-official activities Saturday morning would entail. He spoke English really well and though he explained he didn’t usually do the tours, it was quite good and a bit quicker due to no language barriers. He explained that the man collecting his Zoigl was the owner of Wolfadl and I asked if it was Echter Zoigl and he said the only real difference was he was not part of the association, that he didn’t want to pay the dues. I was still a bit skeptical but was happy that even with the delay, I would get on the trail earlier than planned. No sooner was I ready to leave and he asked the guys to take me over to their cellar so I could see how the Zoigl is stored and fermented. Again, they said sure and off we went. The only thing was, they were riding in a tractor and the easiest way for me to get there was for me to jump on in!
view from the tractor & and adding the yeast
It was a short but exciting lift. I’d recognized the Zoiglstube once there. It was just up the street from Schwoazhansl. They showed me the storage tanks and unloaded their latest batch. He added some yeast to the batch to get the fermentation going. He also poured three Zoigl from an already fermented batch that was still lagering for maturation. It was excellent and all my skepticism about the Zoigl being authentic went out the window.
tractor unloading Zoigl & pouring some fresh Zoigl right from the tank
I still think the association is a good thing and it would be best if everyone was part of it but I’m not the one living there and don’t even know how much the dues are. I said I’d try and come back to Falkenberg when his place was open but after my Zoigl, I had to get going. I still had to hike to Neuhaus and I had two more communal brew houses to tour. Though I was more enthused at that prospect than I’d been earlier that morning, I was fairly certain they wouldn’t prove as exciting as this one had been.
Details on Zoigl and hiking in the area available in my book Beer Hiking Bavaria.