My second night in Freising was spent alone, so I intended walking up to Weihenstephan. It was pissing rain, so I ducked into a pizzeria for something to eat. Something that didn't involve slabs of meat, dumplings and sauce. Fortified with a large pizza and an espresso I set off in the direction of Weihenstephan, meandering through the streets to see if I could spot a nice bar to break the trip. Half way there though my stomach started feeling a little dodgy (it was either the bacon and cheese baked thing or the out-of-date twix I had for lunch), so I made a hasty retreat to the hotel. Just as well...
On the way back though I spotted a little bar that had "Back und Brau" on the front, and a little sign stating that it was Freising's smallest brewery. Once I was feeling a better, half an hour later, I made my way back to see what this was all about.
Schmankerl-Bräu is definitely a small brewery. The brewing kit has a 250 litre capacity. The gentleman running the premesis, Alfons, or Fonsi, is a baker by profession, but he said that baking and brewing were very similar, and indeed, I've seen a few places that do both, Pott's of Oelde and myself included. There was plenty of bread to be had too.
Alfons makes two types of beer normally, a Helles and a Weissbier. He's making a Nicolas Bier for the 6th of December, and has made a Schwarzweissbier with the students of Weihenstephan, who apparently drop in with crazy ideas like making IPA. Although he seems open to experiments, he has to sell the stuff, and having been open for only 13 months, he needs to win over the more conservative Freisingers first. Apparently the premesis was a bit of a dodgy bar before, filled with gaming machines and in a part of town that most people didn't go to at night. Sounds a bit like my experiences of British pubs (well, the ones in Aylesbury anyway!). As it is now, it's a cosy spot with hops and bretzels hanging all over the bar. Thankfully the yodelling music wasn't on for too long, and the latin-american music was more relaxing.
Fonsi is a good host and showed me the temperature controlled fermentation and conditioning tanks in the cellar. Apparently the whole kit cost about €100,000. He and a friend set up the company as a concept that they hope to grow and spread around.
The Schmankerlbräu Helles, or at least the first one I had, is a cloudy amber, certainly darker than most helles you see Fonsi said he was trying to make it more like the beers they had in former times. It has clean malt flavours with a soft caramel, a touch of an orange-like zing, and a creamy mouthfeel. I was really enjoying this, and found it satisfying. Fonsi said that each brew is a little different (I'm not sure if that's intentional or not), and the second one I had, which came mostly from a new keg later in the night didn't have quite the same flavour. Enjoyable though.
Their Weissbier is similarly darker than a regular weissbier, being a rich brown with hints of amber. And it's not a dunkelweiss. I asked. This has pleanty of cloves and a kind of bready aroma and flavour, but I found it a bit soapy tasting for my liking. Should you visit, your mileage may vary as it's bound to be different next time.
Schmankerl-Bräu can be found on Wippenhauser Strasse, near the west end of the main street, and right beside the Corbin Fengshui Business Hotel. How come I didn't get to stay there?