This is my contribution to The Session #20, Beer and Memories, hosted by the Bathtub Brewery. Head there for a complete recap.
I drank it twice today, and I may never have it again. But if I do taste it I will be instantly back in Neuhaus, located in a bit of northern Bavaria known as the Oberfplaz. “Nobody in Germany comes here,” a Munich resident told us at the Teicher, run by the Otto Punzmann family, where we had another Zoigl beer. We were drinking, he explained, in an area lost to many Germans, between the north and Bavaria, between Prague and and the more prosperous west.
A good place to be on German Reunification Day, a national holiday and the only day of the year all the Zoigl breweries of Neuhaus (plus a few others – seven different in town, more if you wanted to drive a few miles) pour their beers. What the blank is Zoigl? Not a style, thank goodness. But beer from a community brewery that’s located in Neuhaus a short walk from the house breweries where the beer ferments, is lagered and served.
During the rest of the year each house brewery takes its own turn serving beer one weekend a month, usually Friday through Monday. In 2007 the breweries began what could turn into something wonderful. They all open on a single day.
Apparently the first round was a success, because sometime before 6 o’clock in the morning in New York (noon here) we pulled into the village of Neuhaus and saw cars lined up to the edge of town. The first brewery serving Zoigl was right ahead, the community brewhouse around the corner.
Each house brewery makes a beer to is own recipe. Schafferhof was the first we had, and our favorite, as if that matters. By chance it was our first, by design our last — where we enjoyed it with a feast that cost us €11.60 (including beer) and would have been at least three times that on Munich.
The 20-kilometer drive back to our pension was as spectacular as the trip up from southwest of Regensburg on Thursday. As was the journey to Neuhaus in the morning. I should have stopped when we left Neuhaus, and might have were it not for a Mercedes looming in the rear view mirror, to take a picture. The hills were laid out below us in layers, two different villages with churches at their center surrounded by bright green fields and dark green trees.
Fall has arrived, but gently. Yellow and red leaves blend with a lot of green, and the red flowers in planters on the second and third stories of white washed houses perfectly complement red tile roofs.
That’s what I’ll remember should I come across a beer that reminds me of Schafferhof Zoigl.
But back to that conversation at the Teicher. The Munich resident made it clear why some Germans embrace Zoigl when I asked him why he decided to come to Neuhaus — he and 10 friends made the journey via train. He looked around the room, beer and and conversation brimming everywhere.
“This is tradition,” he said.