Fishing for a Bock without borders

I could see from her expression, Doreen was hooked. It was only a mouthful of potatoes but my wife loves them. Of course, this was no ordinary potato dish. It was Grääsda Ebbiern. I’d become a bit fixated on it myself after first tasting it about a year prior and my wife had wanted to try it ever since. Neither of us could pronounce it despite our friend Jürgen’s coaching. He’d also painted a homey picture of them, explaining they were “just like the ones his grandmother used to make.” I guess old style makes sense at the Gold-Ochsen since there’s been a brewery and restaurant at this location since 1668. While the dining room doesn’t look that dated, it’s surely a step back in time.

 the Grääsda at the Gold-Ochsenbrauerei were calling

Jürgen is a local beer enthusiast who first explained that while this area known as the Hohenlohe had been integrated into Baden-Württemberg, it is still very much part of Franconia. He elucidated that when it comes to beer, borders really were irrelevant. This return trip with my Franconian friend was not only prompted by my wife’s love of potatoes but also my consuming desire to try their renowned Festbock. Jürgen was nice enough to pick us up in Ansbach, after our two and a half hour train journey from Munich. The drive out was about an hour but with Jürgen expounding on the virtures and beery possibilities in the area, it seemed a lot shorter. Doreen was equally entranced and greatly anticipating the green Kochelofen and she’d seen in my photos.

a fire going at the Gold-Ochsen

With such high expectations, it would have been easy for her to be disappointed, especially since she’d given up her Sunday morning lie in but once she saw the half-timbered pub and walked through the very much working farm courtyard, all such fears were allayed.

half-timbered charm & farm courtyard

My wife had made the reservation under our name Carbonara and the woman asked where we were coming from. Once she said Munich, she seemed to remember a Carbonara from Munich being there before. I imagine not a lot of Münchener make it up here and surely never one with a name like that. Don’t get me wrong, this place gets lots of people from the Baden-Württemberg area and reservations for lunch on a Sunday are highly recommended. We got a prime spot and before we knew it, three Festbocks stood before us. Doreen’s a Sachsen so likes her beers hoppy but this richly malty treat was surprisingly dry and fruity. She loved it and so did I. The family style soup got another huge smile and the Riesenschnitzel had her pretty much reeled in before she even got to the Grääsda Ebbiern.

Gold-Ochsen hits a home run

Even with the ample portions, they were glad to bring out extra potatoes and I surely drank at least one more Bock than I probably should have but this isn’t a place you can just pop into whenever you like. It did lead to my missing one of the most interesting pay-ups you’re likely to ever experience. I’d witnessed it on my prior visit but since my German isn’t great and my understanding of dialects even less so, Jürgen had done the customary sit down with the owner. This time around, my wife sat at the table with the grand old gal. I guess she did well. The woman stood and shook Doreen’s hand after she’d paid up.

Getting some Festbock to go

I’d managed to get my Bock down and use the toilet before meeting them out by the car. Jürgen had not only managed to get two cases of the Festbock but had been given one for free due to his bringing so many people there. This trickled down to our getting a few of his for the road. We were going to miss our planned train home but beery excursions like this don’t come around every day and if they did, I’d have to learn to drink one less Bock.

Contact information for Gold-Ochsen.

If staying in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, consider hiking out to Spielbach.

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