Mystery Place: A Bridge, A Castle and Tunnels in Hof

IMG_20190506_162301014_HDR

Co-written with the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles, whose article is known as Mystery Bridge Nr. 114 with the same title as here……

HOF (SAALE)- This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall and the opening of the borders connecting East and West Germany. On 9th November, 1989 the East German government, caving into the pressure by its own people as well as both the US and Soviet Union announced the opening of the Berlin Wall and with it, the borders that separated East and West, starting with the Dreiländereck near Prex (Bavaria) where Bavaria, Saxony and the Czech Republic meet and slicing through mountains, rivers and valleys until its terminus east of Lübeck in Schleswig-Holstein.

While many museums and historic sites have preserved some of the relicts from the time of the fall, many other places along the border have fallen into disarray and now, overgrowth has taken over, erasing the area that once was a scar in Germany’s history. Yet in the case of this mystery site, there are some questions that have to be answered, like the following as seen in the pics below:

IMG_20190506_165330066_HDR

1. Why are there windows built into the bridge’s wingwalls on the Bavarian side apart from the fact that they are resting areas for bats and birds?

IMG_20190506_164236875

2. Why are there entrances to tunnels that have long since been walled shut?

IMG_20190506_164336362
 

3. Why do we have ruins south of the bridge that represented places that used to be inhabited? – Among the places, there are a pair of chimneys sticking out, one of which was made of metal and is over 80 years old plus old machinery that is long since been abandoned.

IMG_20190506_162544331

4. Why are there kilometer markers on the Bavarian side using the English decimal system with periods?

 

To answer number 4 right away, we have to take a look at the Autobahn Viaduct located at the aforementioned site and its history in connection with the division between East and West Germany.  Construction of the bridge began in 1937 and was completed in 1940 with the plan to carry the motorway from Hof to Chemnitz. The bridge features three main arches with two thinner arches in between, making it one of the most unique structures among the viaducts along the Motorway A 72. At 268 meters long, the bridge is one of the shortest along the highway but at the same time, one of the tallest with a height of 39 meters above the River Saale. The bridge was built using many variants of granite that was quarried in regions near Hof as well as in the Lausitz region, using manual labor consisting of prisoners from the concentration camps at Flossenburg and Mauthausen. The bridge’s service was short-lived as the war progressed and work on another viaduct at Pirk (west of Plauen) was halted. After the war, the viaduct was reopened for a short time, but because of the reconstruction of another viaduct at the East-West border at Rudolphstein in 1966, approximately 10 kilometers away along the Berlin-Munich Motorway (A9), this crossing, together with the Motorway 72 was shut down between Plauen and Hof, never to reopen until 19 December, 1989.

Even though the River Saale formed a border between Bavaria and Saxony, the viaduct was located five kilometers west of the border where the Hochfranken Interchange with A 72 and A 93 meet. In fact, the border zig-zagged its way to the Saale at Hirschberg, where it continues westwards past the border crossing at Rudolphstein, towards Bad Lobenstein.   Even though the bridge and the motorway were rendered useless during the Cold War, it served as a key point for American troops which was to protect the area from a possible attacks from the east and in some cases, help those who crossed the border to the west. Yet with the Rudolphstein Viaduct reopened to international crossings, the bridge near Hof was nothing more than part of the area Americans were patroling before 1989. 

Looking at the first question involving the windows in the wingwalls, however, this one is a mystery. While some sources have claimed that the windows with gates are now used as habitats for rare forms of birds and bats, its straight-line arrangement in three floors makes it appear that there may be offices that were in there- either police or jails, or other administration that may have existed during the Third Reich. This makes the most sense given the second and third questions mentioned here. To the south of the bridge are several openings with tunnels that have long since been walled shut, plus ruins that indicated that the place was inhabited.

According to some sources, there used to be a castle named Burg Saalestein, which was first mentioned in 1524 and was established based on the discovery of minerals to be used for ceramics and the like, for they could be used. Stone walls and graves are all that remain, together with some houses that belong to a restaurant bearing the same name of Saalestein. The houses are fenced which allows for private ownership and a limited allowance of guests. Yet at the bridge, openings to tunnels and underground huts- characterized by 3/4 buried burrows with rusted chimneys sticking out.  Two of them were found in my discovery. Plus rusted machinery indicated that the area was occupied during modern times. As the Nazis during the 1930s and 40s constructed a network of underground tunnels in mountain areas throughout all of Germany, the former Saalestein site was used as some sort of fallout shelter, where residents could take cover during the bombings, which also affected Hof during the last year of World War II. The tunnel network was later walled shut but chances are, the Americans may have used it later.

IMG_20190506_165214196_HDR

To summarize: The bridge spanning the Saale needed three years to build but only five years of traffic before it was rendered useless. The question is what the bridge was used for between 1945 and 1990. The openings in the wingwalls on the western side was used as office space but how it is unknown. And lastly, what became of the castle of Saalestein after the 16th Century and what role did the Nazis and later American troops played in utilizing the ruins?

What do you know about the bridge and the area? Feel free to comment below or contact Jason Smith using the contact form enclosed here.  The area has a lot of history much of which has yet to be discovered, Can you help? 🙂

 

Photo gallery with the pics of the bridge and the ruins can be found here. 

 

fast fact logo

From 1945 until 1990, Germany was divided into two countries but four zones occupied by the allies of the US, France, Great Britain and the Soviet Union. The Soviets were responsible for the region which is today Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia, Mecklenburg- Pommerania, Brandenburg and East Berlin. The Americans were responsible for much of the southern part of Germany, including Bavaria, Baden-Wurttemberg, Hesse and parts of North Rhine-Westphalia, yet it consolidated its territories with Britain and France in 1949 prior to the creation of the Federal Republic of Germany.

 

flefi-deutschland-logo bhc logo short new

Advertisements

Christmas Market Tour 2018: Plauen (Vogtland)

Our last stop on the 2018 Christmas market tour keeps us in the state of Saxony but takes us way out west, to the wildest of west, namely the Vogtland. The reason we say this is for three reasons: 1. The Vogtland region is laden with rich forests, a large number of reservoirs and lakes and hills. For some of the rivers in the region, such as the White Elster, Zwickau Mulde, Eger and other notable creeks, the region is their starting point. 2. The region is rustic with wooden houses along the countryside, buildings with wooden facades, etc. Despite it being a part of East Germany with its communist housing, the region has a lot of attractions, competing with the likes of the Fichtel Mountains in Franconia (Bavaria), Thuringian Forest and even the Ore Mountains (Czech and German sides). 3. As far as activities are concerned, the Vogtland is filled with outdoor activities year round, including skiing, horseback riding, biking and hiking, just to name a few. And lastly, the Vogtland is the archrival to the Ore Mountain regions in terms of woodcrafting. Especially with regards to Christmas arches (Schwibbogen), pyramids, and other figurines typical of Christmas, the Vogtlanders pride themselves on their work and there has been a debate as to which regions these products were made, let alone their origins.

But that is for another time.

47380584_2221794007851958_4025422342573260800_o

The largest city in the Vogtland is our focus of the Christmas market and is one that has a tradition and a history. Plauen has a population of 65,400 inhabitants and is the second closest city in Saxony to the Czech border behind Oberwiesenthal. At one time, the population had been hovering over 120,000 inhabitants before the two World Wars decimated much of it. Since 1945, it has been under the mark and decreasing steadily as people have emigrated away for better jobs in neighboring Bavaria and in bigger cities. It is 30 kilometers northeast of the nearest city of Hof (also in Bavaria) but 45 kilometers southwest of Zwickau. The White Elster River as well as the Syra and Mühlgraben flow through the city, and the city is rich with historic bridges, big and small, spanning them in and around the city. They include (in the city) the Friendensbrücke, the second oldest known bridge in Saxony in the Alte Elsterbrücke (built in 1228) and the brick stone viaducts at Syratal and Elstertal. The Göltzschtalbrücke, which is located 10 kilometers to the north, is the largest viaduct of its kind ever built.  Apart from three federal highways, Plauen is also served by the Motorway 72, as well as three different raillines, including the Dresden-Hof-Nuremberg Magistrate, the Elster route going to Gera and Leipzig as well as the Vogtland route going to Cheb (CZ).

Despite having lost 75% of its buildings during the waning days of World War II through ariel bombings, much of Plauen’s architecture has been rebuilt to its former glory and still functions for its original purposes. This includes several churches, such as the Johanniskirche, Lutherkirche, and Pauluskirche, the Nonnenturm, the castle ruins of Schloss Plauen, the two city halls- one built in 1385; the other in 1922 which features a tower with clock- and several other historic buildings flanking the two market squares- Altmarkt and Klostermarkt.

Plauen has a lot to take pride in- its green hills and valleys, its beer, its theater and  orchestra, but it is world famous for its Plauener Spitze, a type of pattern fabric that is carefully orchestrated by needles and other cutting tools. An example of such a Spitze can be found here:

Source: Tex8 [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons
Inspite of this, Plauen is also famous for its Christmas market, which is the largest in the region. It covers three-fourths of the city center, covering Altmarkt, extending along Obere Steinweg and Rathausstrasse, part of Klostermarkt and ending at the shopping center Stadtgallerie. Yet most of the shopping and eating possibilities can be found at Altmarkt and the shopping center. Because of parking issues, only the tree and some street performances were found during my visit at Klostermarkt.

47577588_2221840074514018_2502676769069334528_o
At Klostermarkt

Another area in the city center that was somewhat left out was the area around the church, Johanniskirche. While church services commenorating the birth of Christ, combined with concerts, were taking place there, the lot was empty with no cars around. Given its size, there could have been some potential to have some religious exhibits and/or booths in and around the church to encourage people to visit them before or after visiting the church. This was something that was found at some other Christmas markets, most notably in Glauchau and Zwickau as well as in some places in Berlin, Dresden and Nuremberg.

47349095_2170830066280964_3142781454866448384_o
Johanniskirche and Kirchplatz, next to Altmarkt

To summarize in that aspect, the space availability for Christmas market booths and events is somewhat misaligned and the focus should be less on consumption and more on the holiday and religious traditions that Plauen offers and what is typical for the Vogtland region. That means aside from the church area, Klosterplatz should be filled in a bit with some booths and other holiday events and less glamour for the shopping area for Christmas markets are an outdoor event and not indoor.  A note to some of the city planners for future reference.

47386215_2221840304513995_8322165732104208384_o
Stadtgallerie Shopping Center

Aside from this, the market itself features a combination of shopping possibilities in the Stadtgallerie and traditional products and foods in the Altmarkt. Both market appear to be well-decorated, with the Stadtgallerie having somewhat too much glamour with the Christmas decorations, thus creating more traffic for shoppers than what is needed at the market itself. Again, an imbalance that needs to be corrected. The Altmarkt itself is perhaps the nicest of the Christmas market in Plauen. The booths consist of small mahogany huts made with real wood from the Vogtland region, all decorated with spruce and pine tree branches as well as other forms of decorations. There are several picnic tables and benches, all made of cut-up wood; some of them have shelters in case of inclimate weather.

47380584_2221794007851958_4025422342573260800_o
Altmarkt

Much of what the Christmas market at Altmarkt offers is local specialties, such as the woodwork products made in the Vogtland, such as the pyramid, Christmas arch, incense products and figurines that are religious based. For eateries, the market offers not only local foods and drink, but also some international products. Most popular at the market include the Bemme- a bread with fat and pickles, in come cases with liver sausage. Then there is the Baumkuckenspitze, a layered, donut-shaped cake covered in chocolate; some of which with a thin-filling. Holzofenbrot that is cooked in a wood-burning oven is one that is most recommended, and one of the booths had a mixture of both local and international specialties. Especially in the cold weather, these bread products with are really good and filling.

47449794_2221839657847393_2127805950390697984_o

As we’re talking about international specialties, the market offers products from the Middle East and parts in Europe. Included in the mix is from the Netherlands, where I had a chance to try different kinds of Gouda cheese- those that are sometimes 2 years old and more than ripe. Regardless of what kind, the cheese is highly recommended, and the salespeople selling them, we had a chance to talk about different cultures between Germany, the US and the Netherlands. Their booth features a good place to chat, where even Father Christmas and the angel can entertain themselves over cheese:

47322856_2221843931180299_430787577725845504_o

Apart from two different pyramids- one of which is over a century old, one can also spend time at the Spitzenmuseum at the older city hall, which by the way provides a great backdrop to the market together with the tower of the newer city hall, which one can tour the place and enjoy the view of the city and its landscape.

46855684_2170835382947099_2305849997125484544_o
Christmas tree on the side of the Old City Hall/ Spitzenmuseum with a century-old pyramid

Plauen’s Christmas market features a combination of culture and history all in a historical setting. Culture is in reference to the local products that are offered, especially at the Altmarkt, and history is in reference to the historic setting the market has- to the south, the church and to the north, the two city halls. The market is well-visited and is not so crowded, although my visit was after the first Advent. Yet the magnet of the shopping center next door does raise some concern as to how to balance out the visitors and better utilize the space of Plauen’s city center. Having open but unused space makes a city center rather empty, especially at the time of the Christmas market. However, when planned better and through cooperation with retailers and property owners, Plauen can have a well-balanced Christmas market that is well-balanced in terms of visitors but also whose themes would make it attractive to visitors coming from Saxony, Germany, Czech Republic and beyond……

47291553_2221839794514046_4412394102759358464_o
Rathausstrasse going to Stadtgallerie

Photos of the Plauen Christmas Market can be viewed via facebook (click here) and Google (click here)

FLFI Holiday logo

2016 Christmas Market Tour: Zwickau (Saxony)

imgp3079

The next Christmas market on the tour takes us back to the Erzgebirge Region- or should I say the gateway to the mountains to be specific?  Zwickau is located in the southwestern part of Saxony, 17 kilometers south of neighboring Glauchau along the Zwickauer Mulde River. Access to the city of 100,000 inhabitants is easy, thanks to access to the Autobahn 72 that connects Hof (Bavaria) and Leipzig via Chemnitz and two key railways: The Nuremberg-Hof-Dresden Magistrate operated mainly by the Mitteldeutsche Railway (MRB) and the Franconian-Saxony Route connecting Leipzig-Halle and Hof with a branch extending to Zwickau from Werdau. Another rail route to Karlsbad (Karoly Vary) in the Czech Republic provides direct access to the mountains.  Zwickau is the gateway to the Erzgebirge region (Ore Mountains) with the historic Silver Road being the western terminus that provides access through the mountains enroute to Freiberg (Saxony), offering tourists a glimpse of the story of the miners and how they lived, in places like Annaberg-Buchholz, Schneeberg, Schwarzenberg, and Tharandt.  Zwickau is also the gateway to the heavily forested and hilly Vogtland region in the south, where Plauen, Greiz and Hof are located, but also the agricultural regions to the north, where Glauchau, Gössnitz and Altenburg are located. The landscape changes when passing through Zwickau, enabling people to choose which region to hike (or bike if you have two wheels). 🙂

imgp2580

Zwickau is also the birthplace of automobiles and infrastructure. Audi Motors, which was created in 1932 thanks to the fusion with Horch, had its start in the city. The beloved East German car Trabant was manufactured in Zwickau until 1990. Now Volkswagon handles most of the manufacturing of cars at its headquarters between Zwickau and Glauchau. The city is home of very unique bridges stemming from six different eras, including the Paradiesbrücke, Röhrensteg and Zellstoff Bridge (a tour guide of the bridges can be found here). It is unknown whether the largest bridge builder in Zwickau, whose history goes back 160 years may have had something to do with it, but it would not be a surprise.  Yet a surprise to musicians and Germanists would be if they never knew that composer Robert Schumann was born in Zwickau and had his start there before becoming a famous pianist and music writer. The house where he was born is still standing and can be seen while in the city center.

imgp3100
A specialized oven cooking Mutzbraten at Kornmarkt

Then there is the Christmas market in Zwickau. When compared to the markets in the Erzgebirge or Vogtland regions, let alone in the western half of Saxony (minus Chemnitz), the market is the largest with over 300 stands in two markets plus four different streets connecting them. From the author’s perspective, Zwickau’s market is one of the most centralized markets ever visited on tour, as one needs only two minutes walk between the two markets. It’s comparible to the ones in Leipzig, Halle (Saale), Nuremberg, Quedlinburg and to a certain degree, Freiberg.  Yet in terms of access, when compared to the likes of Chemnitz, Glauchau, Freiberg, Frankfurt (Main) and Weimar, it is very difficult to reach, especially by bike but also by car.  While one can be daring enough to bike the Zwickauer Mulde bike path and access it from Paradiesbrücke, which takes only three minutes to reach, from the train station, let alone the main highway B93, one needs 10-15 minutes to reach. The reason: The market is located deep inside the walls of the historic town, and that is located right next to the river! Allow some time and patience to find it and have your Google Map app handy.

I had two different opportunities to visit the market this year because of my commitments teaching English nearby combined with my plan to visit the markets in the mountain. Both times I came away with the same impression as before, which was very local but diverse, very historical but fancy, very religious but educational, and very wide in selection but also very tasty.  In short, if you want a taste of Erzgebirge and Vogtland and have a time and money budget, you should take some time in Zwickau, as the city provides you with a glimpse of the markets you could (and should) visit when going deeper into the regions.

imgp3082

As mentioned earlier, the market is divided up into two different ones. The larger of the two markets is located at Hauptmarkt, which is between Alte Steinweg and Marienplatz. At this place, one will find everything typical of Saxony and the Erzgebirge. Like in Chemnitz and Freiberg, this market has its usual black Lichterbogen (lighted arch), laden with stands made of wood from the mountains, all of which have the usual yellowish-brown and mahogany colors and resemble log cabins and huts. The backdrop of the market features the Historic Theater (Gewandhaus) with its white and light brown Fachwerk design, the City Hall and the Robert Schumann House, where he was born.  Looking towards the theater, one will see the large pyramid with its figures of the miners in the foreground; the Christmas tree is in the background. The former is a key eatery, serving traditional delicacies but also a dozen types of Glühwein (mulled/spiced wine), including apple and spice, sanddorn (sea buckthorn) and wildberry. It is also one of three places where a person can find a Christmas market cup in several different colors and designs. Two of them I have at home as souvenirs, btw. 🙂

imgp3126
View of behind the manger set with a light resembling the star that led the three wisemen to Baby Jesus. Photo taken at St. Mary’s Church.

Crossing Marienplatz and going adjacent from the Hauptmarkt, there is St. Mary’s Cathedral (the official name is St. Mary’s Evangelical Lutheran Church). While visiting the church, one really needs to see the manger set, located behind the church in front of the museum and Brauhaus restaurant and brewery. While the market has more manger sets than any of the markets in eastern Germany (at least five of them are located at the Christmas market in general), this one is the largest as the figures are life-sized and depict the scene where the three wise men visit and bless Joseph and Mary, the proud parents, and baby Jesus. While the site is more visible in the daytime, one can play with photography at night, using the lights to depict the actual scene and the lighted church as the backdrop.

imgp3123
Side view of the manger set with the church in the background

imgp2602

imgp3125

South of the church, going 300 meters, is Kornplatz. This section is the smaller of the two markets but serves as a symbol of the more traditional Christmas market on a wider German scale. This goes beyond the pyramid, which has a more modern mahogany appearance, as several gabled dark brown houses sell local clothing and cooked goods, including the Mutzbraten, which is smoked marinated pork that is cooked for 2-3 hours in a wooden stove and is a Thuringian tradition, like the Bratwurst. However there are two more local cooked specialties to be mentioned later that are even local than the Thuringian specialties offered at this Christmas market (no offense to those from Thuringia.) The market has a carousel and children’s railroad track for them to ride the train through the market. The market area itself is more suitable for families with children because of the space and some stands that are children friendly. Also as an incentive to visit the market is the children’s story alley. Located along Münzstrasse connecting the Korn and Haupt markets,  it features a display of 3-4 fairy tales which are decided upon annually by the planning committee.  The artists then construct the mural and the figures depicted in the story, which is recorded by the narrators and played by the tourists.

LOOKING AT THESE DISPLAYS, CAN YOU GUESS WHAT THEY ARE?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Other amusement rides can also be found at the Hauptmarkt, but across the streetcar tracks and on the opposite side of the statue of Robert Schumann. They were purposely placed there to provide better access for children and to avoid overcrowding. The planning of the Christmas market was perfect in a way that the children’s section was placed in the outer portions of the Hauptmarkt while the market itself can focus on local goods from the region. This plus its openness- meaning no fences and key entrances like at the one in Freiberg- enables people to enter and exit the market anywhere freely without overcrowding. It’s convenient and most importantly, it’s safe. This is probably the main reason why Zwickau’s market is so centralized- not to mention well organized. 🙂

imgp3111
The stand across St. Mary’s Church which sold Zwickau Brühlette. There were three at the market that sold this unique specialty that is typical of the city.

As mentioned before, Zwickau’s Christmas market has a wide selection of food and drink- the more traditional Christmas market foods are at the Kornmarkt, while the more local goods from the region is found at the Hauptmarkt, with a few exceptions of foods from Switzerland and France at a couple booths, including Cheese Fondue.  One of the prized goods worth trying is the Zwickau Brühlette. Based on a recipe dating back to the 1950s, the Brühlette is simply a meatloaf made of ground meet combined with flour, breadcrumbs and spices, but what exactly goes into there and how it is made has remained top secret since it was presented by a married couple who invented this in light of the food shortage during the days of Socialism in East Germany. After the Fall of the Wall in 1989, the unique delicacy became nearly an overnight hit among “Westerners” that eventually, a restaurant was established, which still sells the Brühlette- with or without bread and with or without topping. I tried one at the stand across from St. Mary’s Church during my visit with mustard and it topped all the Leberkäse (basically meatloaf slices) I’ve tried since moving to Germany in 1999! It was a bit spicy but really tasty and one that stands out! When visiting Zwickau, it is recommended to put this food on top of your list of delicacies to taste.

imgp2581

Not far from the top of the list of foods to taste is horse meat. Regardless of whether they are meat slices or sausage, horse meat is different from other forms of meat that people eat as it has a tender, hearty and somewhat tart-like flavor, regardless of how it is served. The place selling this is Ulrich Engelhardt, and the business has been selling horse meat since 1990, the same time the Zwickau Christmas market started up again! I tried one during my first visit in a form of a sausage on a bun and it tasted similar to Polish sausages, a common commodity sold in American supermarkets. Having that with my dad and brother while growing up, that was quite addicting and tasty! 🙂

Also recommended is the Dresden Landbrot. Originating from the capital of Saxony, the Landbrot is baked bread with filling, cooked in a wooden oven. Filling included cheese and meat, and can be served with sour creme and chives, just to name a few. This bread is best served hot with a good Glühwein to go along with that.  🙂

Despite all that is offered at the Christmas market, sometimes it hurts to say good-bye, especially when the market closes at 8:00pm. Zwickau usually ends its market day on a musical note, singing Christmas carols and a farewell song as a way to signaling the visitors mulling over some Räuchermänner made of Erzgebirge wood, accessories for a doll house, lanterns with a wooden frame, miner figures made of silver or wood and other typical local products to make the purchase and allow the merchants to close their doors to prepare for the next day. Believe it or not, I witnessed this on my visit, especially as the number of visitors had already reached its peak.  But it was a way to look back at Zwickau’s market and summarize it in simpler terms:

Zwickau is one of the largest Christmas markets in a region where the city sits at the gateway to three different landscapes: Vogtland, Erzgebirge and the agricultural plains. Like the markets of the past, Zwickau’s Christmas market provides people with an opportunity to try and purchase products locally. In other words, the market is one of the more local ones when looking at the themes mentioned and the heritage that goes along with that. While some markets are really spread out, Zwickau is one of the more centralized of the Christmas markets, with two key markets, two corridors with only a three minute walking distance and a large church with the largest of the five manger sets to see. Even if it takes a long time to get to the city center where the market is located, the visit in the end is well worth it. Given its access to the three regions and its western terminus to the Silver Road going through the Erzgebirge, Zwickau’s Christmas market provides the tourist with a whiff of the city’s history with the miners and perhaps encourages the person to explore the other Christmas markets and places along the path to look at their history and heritage and learn a bit more about the history of Saxony and to a greater extent, Germany.

imgp3148

Because of that, I have a lot of towns along the Silver Road to explore, in addition to the Vogtlanders. And what will be interesting is seeing how these markets, like Annaberg-Bucholz, Schwarzenberg, Schneeberg, etc. celebrate Christmas and their miners. Will it be different or similar to what I visited during the tour? My bet is each market will be different but the miners’ legacy will be the same, affecting the lifestyles of the people in the Erzgebirge that is different than the rest of the country. And sometimes a different lifestyle opens new doors to knowledge and understanding. 🙂

Check out the Flensburg Files’ photo album with additional photos of Zwickau’s Christmas market, which you can click here. An ongoing collection of Zwickau at night, taken by the author, can be accessed here. Stop here occasionally as the collection will be bigger. Enjoy! 🙂

flfi-holiday-logo

 

 

 

Year of the Beer Day 36: Greizer Schloss Pils

cropped-ff-avatar1.jpg

Moving on from the UR-saalfelder, our next beer takes us to the Pearl of or Gateway to the Vogtland region in southeastern Thuringia, Greiz. With a population of 24,000 inhabitants, the town is entrenched deep in the valley of the White Elster River and has a castle overlooking the town, a neighboring city gardens, and a town center backed into the steep cliffs. The town also has its own brewery bearing its name. Founded in 1872 by the industrialist Karl Gottlieb Weber, the merchant Karl Anton Merz and the independent gentleman Anon Zeuner, the Greizer has a rather checkered history which includes several takeovers by first nationalists, including the infamous Hitler regime, then the Communists which tabbed the VEB tag on them, and lastly corporate takeovers after the Fall of the Wall. The third one was the most significant because (as you will see in the history page here), the brewery underwent extensive rehabilitation, cleaning the wells, modernizing the crafting machinery, and cleansing it of raw barley, sauerkraut and rice, which had to be used as substitutes for malt during the first two takeovers. Since 2001, it has been privately owned with the Schäfer family having the reigns of the business since 2010.

The Greizer has six assortments of beer, one of which we put under the loop with the pilsener. The Schloss Pils is the most commonly found beers in the region, having won several awards including the DLG Award in 2010 and 2012. The brewery was great enough to provide some details of the beer in the English language (here), and much of the information matches that of my first-hand impression of the beer: slim body, fair head, lively carbonation, and a brillantly clear yellow head. 🙂

Yet looking at the aroma and flavor of the beer, they are a bit different when tasting them. The beer has a strong aroma with a sharp balance, thanks to the usage of grain and bread malt and floral hops. Just as strong is the flavor of the beer, as it appears that a bit of strong floral hops and citrus was used a bit too much, creating a rather bitter taste at first. After a few sips a person can get used to ii, even more so when consuming food. It is highly recommended not to drink your Schloss Pils straight if you are drinking it for the first time, maybe even in general, for its astringent taste can take getting used to. For a pilsener with a touch of hops and citrus, sometimes one needs to cut back a bit and compensate it with other ingredients to create a mild taste, like the other beers I’ve tried so far, like the Sachsen Krone and Zwicküler, its nearby rivals to the north. Otherwise, just having the beer straight while conversing, especially as a first-timer, can make for a rather interesting conversation with some faces being made. 😉

Grade: 2,7/ C+  The Greizer Schloss Pils may be a beer that is good with every meal and for those who are used to drinking it, but personally, it doesn’t make for a good straight drink because of its bitterness and hoppiness. This applies also to those who have not tried a German beer yet. However, sometimes some minor tweeks can make it a better beer and after reading my critique, I’m sure these changes will take place to make it just as tasty as the neighboring beers, most of which have been tasted already. This won’t be the last Greizer beer to try as its bock beer is also on the radar and will be next on the list.

So like the Saalfelder, I’ll be back. 🙂

 

FLFI 500 beer