FEB/MAR 2005 | REGIONAL | INTERNATIONAL
Visiting The Private Brewery-Guesthouses Of Germany
By Don Scheidt
As people have become more beer-savvy over the years, they’ve
learned to appreciate the great heartlands of beer and brewing.
Beer-drinking travelers come back with tales of British pubs,
Czech taverns and Belgian cafés. Amidst these bastions
of beer culture is Germany, a country where brewing traditions
have come under pressure in recent years, but also a country
that still has so much to offer the visitor in search of some
of the world’s greatest lagers, wheat beers and other
specialties unique to that country.
The task of finding the best of Germany’s pubs and
beer halls can be daunting. The country has over 1,200 breweries
making around 5,000 beers, and a correspondingly huge number
of pubs and restaurants serve these brews.
Visit Düsseldorf, and chances are good that Zum Uerige
will be on the itinerary. The ancient and beautiful city of
Bamberg, where beer and brewing play a significant role, is
a destination not to be missed. Bamberg is a proud malting
and brewing center where great beers are to be found and enjoyed
at numerous venues, among them the city’s Spezial, Greifenklau,
Keesman, and Mahr’s brewery-pubs. Visitors seeking lodgings
can even make arrangements for accommodations provided by
the Spezial, which has guest rooms upstairs, and the Greifenklau,
in its nearby Altenburgblick hotel. I’ve stayed and
dined in Straub’s Drei Kronen Braugasthof, combining
a brewery, comfortable rooms and a restaurant in the town
of Memmelsdorf, just a couple of miles east of Bamberg.
Elsewhere in Germany, I’ve also enjoyed the hospitality
at the old-fashioned Felsenkeller Rupp in Lauenau, not far
from Hannover. I’ve stopped in for lunch at the Häffner
Bräu Brewery-Hotel-Guesthouse in the spa resort of Bad
Rappenau. I’ve enjoyed superb cuisine, classic Bavarian
lagers and a comfortable night’s rest at the Landwehr-Bräu
in Reichelshofen, a small village just a few minutes’
drive north of the classic medieval walled city of Rothenburg
ob der Tauber. I’ve celebrated Bavarian beer at the
Brauerei Gasthof Hotel Aying, just south of Munich; imported-beer
fans will recognize this as the home of the Ayinger beers
imported into the United States by Merchant du Vin.
These wonderful small and medium-sized brewery-guesthouses
are members of a cooperative trade association in Germany
called “Private Braugasthöfe,” or “Private
Brewery Guesthouses.” According to the association,
all of its members have three things in common: “They
are all small to medium-size family concerns. They all run
their own brewery, and, closely connected to this, the Braugasthof,
or brewery inn.” More important, the association “exists
to revive and preserve this historical unity of brewer and
innkeeper.” The association includes 56 brewery-guesthouses,
scattered from the northern coast of Germany to the southernmost
part of the country, with the biggest concentration in the
Over the years, breweries have come and gone in the association’s
membership list; some have elected to drop out of membership,
while others have made the difficult decision to exit the
brewing industry, even as others were added to the roster.
Many of the Private Braugasthöfe members have long histories
and have been members of the association for years.
The Private Braugasthöfe association was started in
1979 and issued a German-language book by Rudolf Stuiber,
Gern Gast im Privaten Brauereigasthof, in 1986, with stories
and histories of some of the association’s member breweries.
All of these breweries feature on-premises pubs and restaurants,
with good, hearty food of their respective German regions.
The majority of the association’s members also feature
guest rooms, giving excellent value for good-quality, comfortable
For modern-day beer hunters, though, ease of use and easy
access to the association’s information is important.
For most American visitors, “ease of use” translates
to “Is it in English?” and “easy access”
means “Is it on the Internet?” The answer to both
questions is yes. The association’s Web site is braugasthoefe.com;
visitors have a choice of a German- or English-language version
of the site. It features maps and links to individual brewery
Web sites, and it’s pretty easy to put together a personal
tour book from the site’s excellent information. While
planning recent visits to Germany, this site proved to be
an excellent resource. Private Braugasthöfe also publishes
a booklet every year, available at all member brewery-guesthouses,
with updated listings and descriptions.
For visitors wanting to see even more about the beer-rich
Franconian region centered around Bamberg, another excellent
Web resource is Fred Waltman’s superb Franconia Beer
Guide, at franconiabeerguide.com, which features a searchable
database of breweries and their pubs in Franconia, one of
the world’s most rewarding brewing regions.
Together, these are excellent resources for planning a tour
of Germany, still one of the world’s greatest brewing
countries. Enjoy your next visit. Prost!
Don Scheidt is the author of the Northwest
BrewPage at nwbrewpage.com.
He also edits BeerWeek. He can also be reached via