Friday, 17 August 2018

Unser Burgerbrau

Bad Reichenhall is a charming little German town in the Bavarian Chiemgau Alps, noted in the past particularly for salt production. It is the capital of Berchtesgadener Land, set in spectacular forested countryside, not a million miles from Salzburg.

I first encountered it many years ago, cycling to it from the Alpine resort of Inzell in what can best be described as pissing rain.  It was in the early days of my long-lasting, but now defunct German cycling holiday phase and one of only two times I forsook the bicycle we had paid so much for. Both were for the same reason - the aforementioned pissing rain.  Our destination was Berchtesgaden, another charming (in a kind of colder way) Bavarian town , probably best known as the home of Hitler's Alpine redoubt, the Obersalzberg and its Kehlsteinhaus - also known as Hitler's Tea House.

After a horrible slog, in a torrent of rain, up countless Eiger like hills, we arrived, knackered and soaked in Bad Reichenhall and made for the nearest pub for much need liquid refreshment. I remember the relief and I thoroughly enjoyed the cloudy hefe-weizen brewed by the pleasingly named Unser Burgerbrau.  How do I know what I drank?  Well somehow, the distinctive glass - perhaps to cock a snook at the appalling German weather - found its way home with me and it took pride of place in Tandleman Towers for quite a few years. Back in Bad Reichenhall, we looked our maps and the waterfall of rain outside. Noting that the railway station was near and that Berchtesgaden was to be reached by even more precipitous alpine ascents, we decided. "Bugger this, we are getting the train."  And we did. And I've never regretted that decision.

Is there more to this tale? Well yes. A few years after acquiring the glass, while in bed one morning before work, while E made tea (my job these days and ever since), I heard a horrendous crash of broken glass. I immediately knew what had occurred having drank a hefe-weizen the night before. My treasured glass, on end to drain, had taken the knock by a sightless E, who had neither glasses nor contact lenses aboard at the time.

I was reminded of this a few days ago in Berlin at the Berlin Biermeile, when among the many beer stands, we came across one from Unser Burgerbrau. I was firstly uncommonly pleased that it is still on the go and secondly, I was determined, on this sunniest of days, to reaquaint myself with the thirst slaking hefe-weizen of that rain soaked day of yore.  Alas it wasn't to be. The hefe-weizen wasn't on sale.

Nor was it possible to pay the deposit and buy and keep a replacement Unser Burgerbrau Hefe-Weizen glass. They didn't have any. Some things are just not meant to be. 

It peed down in Berchtesgaden that first night too. I remember sitting in the almost deserted hotel dining room, when at about 9 o'clock, the waiter returned to our table with his coat on and gave us the bill.  The rain bounced back to knee height. Escape was impossible. We were in bed by 9.30. On a Saturday night too.

Our trip to the Kehlsteinhaus was completed in glorious sunshine. Our luck changed. We were the last group to enjoy the panorama (2600ft) before fog swept in rendering the views invisible.  


Unknown said...

The Bad Reichenhall Burgerbraeu is still there. A great place for hearty Bavarian food and a good range of beers. As well as being a nice place to visit in its own right (a spa town originally based on the salt industry with plenty of hiking trails nearby) the town is an excellent base for visiting Salzburg which - as everyone knows - has (amongst many other attractions) the best beer hall in Europe!


Barm said...

Ironically enough, the thick, heavy glass base of wheat beer glasses that lends them stability when the right way up, also causes them to tip over very easily when stood upside down – even though the top is wider than the bottom.

Glasses get broken, it’s a fact of life which we need to accept. On my second or third ever trip to Cologne I acquired a pair of the extremely elegant, and delicate, Früh Kölsch glasses. I needn’t have bothered – they did not last very long at all.

Jason said...

Hi Peter, I am an occasional reader of your blog as a former drinking buddy (Jason from Jersey). I now live in Bavaria, in a small but charming city called Bamberg - you may have heard of it ;)

Anyway, I am a regular visitor to the Burgerbraeu and normally stay there during visits to the Alps; the beer is excellent as is the food, and it retains enough locals for it to have a really pleasant atmosphere. Should you want a replacement glass so desperately I am sure we could make it happen.

Hope you're well, I of course urge you to visit Bamberg again and would be happy to be your host and show you some of the more local haunts this fantastic city has to offer. Look me up on Fred's Franconia Beer Guide.