Saturday, 9 May 2015

Last goodbye to the Brauhaus

I’ve been hoping against hope that it wouldn’t come true, but — it looks like my brief taste of Brauhaus Schweinfurt beer in December was my last after all. The Russian brewery that was supposedly going to buy and continue the business cancelled at the last minute, and no other investor could be found to take on the brewery, which had been losing money for some years.

The doors finally closed at the end of April. The regional giant Kulmbacher (itself a merger of Erste Kulmbacher (EKU) and Reichelbräu) has bought such assets as were of any value to it, but the brewery itself no longer has a future in making beer.

It’s a sad end to a brewery with more than 150 years of history.  But Kulmbacher has been gobbling up its regional competitors for years, some much older than the Brauhaus – fifteen years ago it picked up the struggling 200-year-old Hiernickel brewery of Hassfurt (between Schweinfurt and Bamberg), and ten years ago it bought the Würzburger Hofbräu which had existed since the 1600s.

The only remaining brewery in the town is now the much smaller Brauerei Roth, which some years ago also had a struggle to regain its independence, having been sold to the Munich Löwenbräu conglomerate.

I cannot conceive of Schweinfurt without its brewery, because it has always been such a central part of my visits there. What’s worse is that no one much seems to care. There’s been no outpouring of grief as happened at the Brauerei Schwelm, for example; and going by the comments on online boards, many local drinkers had no appreciation for the Brauhaus beer anyway. It seems some would still rather buy a crate of Krombacher on special offer than have a local brewery of their own. And that’s a tragedy.