Last Updated : 26/06/05
Zoigl beers - Hard to find! by Mat Wilson.
I first started to go to Germany I was as much interested in the beer as I was
with the railways and to some extent as the decent traction on the railways has
declined, my interest in the beer has increased. One type of beer that has
always fascinated me is Zoigl beer, a style of beer that is now only brewed in 5
villages in the Oberpfalz area (that is along the Czech border south of Hof and
north of Schwandorf). Zoigl beer is brewed at communal brewhouses and is
brewed in turn, by one of several brewing families in each of the 5 villages,
those families then taking it in turn each week to sell the beer at their home.
When the beer is on sale, usually over the weekend, a six pointed star is hung
out of a window of the house (or displayed from a purpose build bracket) to
denote that Zoigl beer is available.
In my last trip over for a fortnight I decided that I was not going to spend the entire two weeks on the trains and specifically set aside several days for beer only. Myself and Richard Morrison decided to go and see if we could find Zoigl beer at the easiest of the 5 villages to get to as there is a regular train service, and so at 12.00 we found ourselves on the platform at Windischeschenbach (between Marktredwitz and Weiden on KBS855). Armed with information found on www.zoigl.de and www.waldnaab-taler.de/zoigl/ we made our way into the village, crossed the river and up to the Markt in Neuhaus-bei-Windischeschenbach where there are 5 Zoigl brewers. Houses that serve
Zoigl beer can be found at numbers 4, 12, 18 and 20 Marktplatz, and a very smart place below the town at 6 Burgstrasse. Well, we walked up and down, and despite an assurance that we would get a beer at midday, all 5 premises were well and truly locked up. We knew the the beer should have been available at No4 (family Punzmann) but there was no sign of life. Then, a car drew up and a man hauled a barrel out from the boot of the car and went through the door.
Richard decided that he would try the door and found someone inside and through a combination of piss-poor German and a lot of gesticulating, we found that the beer was not on sale until 14.00. We deliberated about what to do next but then the brewer decided to take pity on us and invited us in, set up a trestle table in the back yard, sat us on a bench and plonked two glasses of beer down in front of us. At last, after 3 years of failed searching, here was the real stuff. It was very sharp and was brewed with a lot of hops; cloudy and amber coloured and tasted superb, so good in fact we had another, and another. We bade farewell to Herr Punzmann and wound our way back down the hill and over the river, back under the railway and turned right into Hauptstrasse in Windischeschenbach. At the far end is the Oberpfalzer Hotel on the small markt platz. There is always Zoigl beer available here from one of the local brewers but it doesn't have the lure of sitting in someone's front room drinking a beer that they brewed themselves.
Today was our lucky day. Normally there is only one outlet selling Zoigl beer, but today there were two. The first was at Da Roude at 2 Stadtplatz owned by family Heinl. The front room here is very much like a small bar in any pub in the country, and it's hard to imagine
that you are actually in the family's house. Their beer was very similar to that already tried at Neuhaus, very hoppy and amber coloured but slightly more hoppy, served in a tall glass with a lid. The atmosphere in the bar was very happy and I had the feeling that the large crowd of locals at the large table had been in for quite a long time. The third establishment was Beim Glosser at 2 Lehnerberg owned by family Popp, just beside the hotel. Here we were able to sit out in a nice cobbled courtyard at the rear of the house and drink the beer in the shade. The beer was very much like the previous two tasted with hops at the forefront and if anything slightly colder than the previous 2.
On the web site you will find a calendar for all the 5 families brewing in Neuhaus and the 9 families in Windisch and which days their beers are available. If you've got a day to spare, go and try the beer; I have known bigger beer hunters than myself who have sought and failed to find Zoigl even when they knew it was on in the village.
There used to be 75 villages where Zoigl beer was brewed and I suppose it is the last remnant of really traditional old fashioned brewing. Today Zoigl beer can only be found in Nehaus and Windisch, which are easy to get to, and at Mittereich and Falkenberg, north of
Windisch and at Eslarn, southeast of Weiden right on the Czech border. The latter 3 are not so easy to get to, but I'm sure a resourceful beer hunter will always find a way. On your way back out of Windisch take a quick detour down the second side street to view the brew house. Lots more info on the websites and some English pages are available.
| Punzmann at Neuhaus-bei-
| Punzmann at Neuhaus-bei-
|Punzmann at Neuhaus-bei-
|Da Roude in Windischeschenbach||Zoigl at Da Roude in Windischeschenbach|
|Phot: Mat Wilson||Phot: Mat Wilson||Phot: Mat Wilson||Phot: Mat Wilson||Phot: Mat Wilson|