Craft(ing) Beer Since 1556: Maisacher

Though to the casual observer, it would appear that Germany has been a relative late comer to the craft beer scene, that is only in the sense of finally entering into the realm of following a trend towards styles quite outside the German brewing box. Less than 10 years ago, to imagine breweries in Germany churning out IPAs and Imperial Stouts would have been nearly sacrilegious to the average beer drinker here, who more or less thought that Germany was already the king of brewing nations.
That could have been seen as cocky if one was to only view the most commercial of German breweries, who had somewhat gravitated towards the production of the safest of beers for their increasingly simplistic consuming audience. Of course, there are hundreds of breweries in Germany that do not fit this description and certainly the majority of these are not the newest craft beer upstarts but often very old breweries that have kept to time honored methods of hand “crafting beers.”

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Though a preponderance of such breweries are unevenly concentrated in Franconia, where rural brewers still rule, there are quite a few scattered more widely in Bavaria, as well. One such gem is Maisacher Bräu. Founded in 1556 and run by numerous families but most notably the Sedlmayr’s for a 100 years, it is still very much a small town brewpub with a relatively small distribution.

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small town Maisach
Maisach is a town about 45 kilometers northwest of Munich and easily reached via Munich’s excellent public transportation network. The S-3 will have you there in about a half hour and if traveling in a group of up to 5, quite inexpensively with an XXL day ticket for well under 20€. The brewery itself is about a ten minute brisk walk from the station and though Maisach has grown considerably since 1556, it remains a small town at its core and if there in the afternoon on a weekend, you’ll notice just about everything is closed. Thankfully, that does not include the brewpub.

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The sight of the red brick brewing chimney dominates the horizon once you make the turn onto the Hauptstraße and your destination is readily apparent. It’s a great old building and the large copper kettle is visible as you walk to the brewpub’s entrance. Once inside, you’re greeted with lots of wooden furnishings and hops hanging from the ceiling. The deep recessed windows add to the Old World feel. It oozes coziness.

copper kettle from the road & hanging hops in the Bräustüberl

Meals are ample and simple in a comforting way. This is no frills Bavarian cuisine but make no mistake, the food is excellent. From Schnitzel to Bavarian “national” dish Schweinsbraten (roast pork), this is hearty stuff, perfect for winter and for eating while drinking beer.

A gorgeous Schweinsbraten & lovely Schnitzel

Their beer lineup is fairly varied for a small town brewpub: Perle (an on the hoppy side Helles), Keller (possibly an unfiltered version of their Perle), Räuber Kneißl (a marvelous Dunkles, perhaps best in southern Bavaria) and a Weißbier (unfiltered wheat beer typical of the region). They also bottle a Pils but with so much on tap, it’s hard to justify drinking one. Their one seasonal is the excellent Maisacher Bock.

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The nice logo of the Maisacher Bock

We’ve been here many times, dating back to the late 90s and have never been disappointed. We went yesterday as the Maisacher Bock was newly tapped and well, a Schweinsbraten always sounds good when the temps drop. Though I’ve always loved the Bräustüberl area with the hanging hops, the once quite dated dining room was surprisingly and very nicely renovated so we happily sat there.

the girls enjoying the Maisacher Bock & the newly renovated dining room

I started off with a Bock as an aperitif and the deep golden brew came out with a fluffy white head in an extremely attractive mug with an etched Maisacher Bock logo. It’s a dry fruity bock with a long lingering finish. I bought a couple bottles and have to say, it’s just nowhere near as good as the draft version at the brewpub. It’s worth going out just for it! My wife got the Schnitzel, which she said was freshly breaded and very much homemade. She’s German and she knows her Schnitzel. Our friend and I both opted for the Schweinsbraten, which was huge and flawless: succulent, tender pork with super crispy pork skin on top. The Knödl (potato dumpling) was massive and also homemade. The sauce was dreamy. It comes with an optional Krausalat (a cold cabbage and caraway seed salad) that was laced with small pieces of ham. I switched to the Räuber Kneißl for this. Anything else seems a crime. This is where Bavarian beer and food combine for much more than the individual parts.

Craft beer is alive and well in Maisach. They might not brew an IPA but they don’t have to and my guess is all the great IPA brewers would have a hell of a time topping the Räuber Kneißl if they attempted a Dunkles. Simple things are not always so easy to duplicate. Maisacher has been doing just that since 1556.

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