I’ve never been big on birthdays but since moving to Germany I’ve grown to look forward to mine. Not that getting older has become more enticing but my wife has turned it into a beery adventure since she couldn’t come up with a better gift. First, it became an annual trip to my favorite of all German towns, Bamberg but soon enough, it grew into not only staying there but also getting to do a few excursions to breweries in its vicinity.
Now, it’s not an easy feat picking them out. There are tons but I try to make them as easy to get to as possible. My wife is always understanding and on my birthday, especially so but it’s never a good idea to push it. Ideally, it’s a train trip and a half hour is a fair length. Buses make my wife nervous, especially if to very small villages with irregular service. Small villages aren’t the best choices even if they often have the best breweries. Believe me, we’ve been to more than our fair share of them but if you can find a town with some sights, it’s a real bonus.
hilltop church in Zeil am Main
Zeil am Main turned out to such a place. I’d read a lot of good things about Brauerei Göller but next to nothing about its hometown. I think in the end, I chose it mostly due to its ease of access. Only 15 minutes by train from Bamberg on hourly trains. It’s hard to beat that. Once in the town, however, we both were struck at how charming it was. Set amongst some lovely rolling hills, one with a church atop, it has a bit of a story book feel to it. It was small enough to explore in a half hour but with trails heading into the hills, it was obvious you could spend more time there, too. Even on a dreary day, it was colorful with restrained Christmas decorations adding just the right touch.
Christmas atmosphere in Zeil am Main
With things to see and take photos of, the walk to the brewery in no time. It’s housed in a gorgeous old vine-glad building with a wrought iron sign. We walked into a much larger place than we’d imagined and despite being bustling, there were plenty of seats in the main room.
The Göller Brewery
We grabbed a nice table facing the tap strewn with hops and perused the beer menu. Many rural pubs only have one beer and even if there are more than one, you have to wait for the food menu to have any idea what they have. This one was very professionally done with photos and elaborate descriptions of each of their many beers. If this had been in the US, I wouldn’t have been surprised but at a Franconian brewery, it was a bit offsetting. I started to worry that the beer might not be so great and that this was some type of compensation.
hops hanging at Göller
With so many choices, we opted to split beers and started off with their Dunkles and Rauchbier. The former had some nice dark chocolate notes with a slightly bitter finish The Rauchbier was maltier with a restrained but smoky element. Both were well-made and went well with our meals.
Dunkles & Rauchbier
We both ordered Schäuferla, Franconia’s signature dish. This particular pork shoulder was not only massive but in the top three we’d ever had. The skin was crispy and the meat succulent. The sauce was tasty and laden with pork fat so incredibly hearty. One would have probably been enough but we worked our way through them, while working through the beer menu.
Next up was their Kellerbier which had some cereal in the palate but a nice hoppy finish. I don’t always order a Pils but this one’s description reeled me in and I was glad it did. It was dry and slightly fruity with a super clean dry finish. If you’ve ever said you couldn’t drink Pils all night, this one would prove you wrong. We finished up with their craft beer offering, the Wiener Lager. It was brewed with Bravo hops and was again dry and fruity with yet another clean finish. I had finished my pork shoulder by then but my wife was ready to throw in the towel at this point.
Kellerbier, Pils and Wiener Lager all impressed
Göller impressed both of us. It was a very traditional place but still seemed to have an eye to the future. Their everyday beers were excellent and their entry into the craft beer market was very well made, too. The food will not be soon forgotten and I think between the cute town of Zeil am Main and the huge amazing Schäuferla, I won’t have any problem convincing my wife to return! There wasn’t much time for contemplation, though. It was time to rush back to the train. We had a bus to catch to Mönchsambach once back in Bamberg. A Christmas Bock tapping was on the agenda for the evening but Zeil had already made the day a great success for beer, and more importantly, my wife.
A happy Beerwanderer’s wife makes a happy life