City Beer Guides Stories

The Bautzen Campaign

An account of a brief fact-finding campaign to the medieval town of Bautzen and its picturesque pastoral surroundings.

In the unruffled foothills of eastern Saxony, somewhere halfway between Dresden and the Polish border, lies one of Germany’s best preserved medieval towns.

Perched atop a granite outcrop above the river Spree, Bautzen was once a strategic border town that changed hands repeatedly over the course of its 1,000-year history. A quaint provincial town with approximately 40,000 inhabitants in this day and age, the sound of its name is usually linked with three subject matters.

Top of the list is mustard, which has been Bautzen’s bread and butter since the 1950’s, the inaugural decade of the GDR. The Bautz’ner brand’s medium-spiced flagship was consistently one of East Germany’s most important exports until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and ˗ unlike most other established products of the communist era ˗ is still in high demand today.

Claim to fame number two is far less savoury than the first and, in stark contrast, a matter the former communist authorities were hell bent on keeping to themselves. Between 1956 and 1989, the Bautzen II detention centre fell under the administration of the Stasi ˗ the GDR’s notorious secret police.

Inside its walls, thousands of “prisoners of conscience” were subjected to intense interrogation and endless torture, sleep deprivation being one of the preferred methods applied. Needless to say, many of these individuals were scarred for life.

Thirdly, and most obscurely, Bautzen is considered to be the cultural and political centre of the Sorbs, one of Germany’s four officially recognised indigenous ethnic minorities. This subject matter is of particular interest to me for reasons I will attempt to illustrate.

Before I dive into that, however, I am taking the liberty of adding craft beer to Bautzen’s list of notable features. This too shall be discussed as we go along.

View of Bautzen’s historical town centre by night

Back to the Roots

As mentioned in a previous chronicle, my late mother was welcomed into this world in a small village located within the district of Bautzen and she attended secondary school in the town itself. In the wake of her passing, a desire to visit some of the places that bear significance to my mother’s youth started building up inside me.

It was as if I found comfort in the knowledge that my mother had once been a child with a whole life ahead of her; one that, for all its ups and downs, turned out to be nothing short of extraordinary. The realisation that she had once been a completely different version of the person who bore and raised me helped put things in perspective ˗ time had not cheated her; it was just that her time had come.

Simultaneously, an irrational urge to get to know the younger versions of my mother a bit better took hold of me. Since the old pictures of her that I had come across whilst rummaging through chests and drawers could only tell me so much, I decided a road trip to the sites of those formative years was in order.

When I shared these travel plans with a close friend of mine, the previously introduced Chicho Mitko (Uncle Mitko), he immediately expressed interest in joining me.

Mitko arrived in Dresden on a Saturday afternoon, four days after I had done; two days later, on a Monday, we set forth to Bautzen.

Welcome to Budyšin

View of Bautzen City Hall

Having made a considerable detour via the village of Kölsa, where we dropped in on an old friend of my mother’s, Mitko and I entered the district of Bautzen with dusk slowly setting in. One can immediately tell when the administrative border has been crossed ˗ all the road signs become bilingual. Below the German names of towns, a Slavic alternative is presented; a clear indication that you find yourself in one of the last remaining strongholds of the Sorb nation.

The smallest of the 13 Slavic ethnic groups spread out across eastern Europe, the Sorbs are concentrated in the Lusatia region of eastern Germany, which is divided between the federal states of Saxony (Upper Lusatia) and Brandenburg (Lower Lusatia). Bautzen, or Budyšin in Sorbian, is the official capital of the former.

The Sorbs are descendants of the various Slavic tribes that migrated to Lusatia from the northern reaches of the Carpathian Mountains around 1,500 years ago. These tribes, collectively known as the Wends, settled in the terrain between the Oder River to the east and the Elbe and Saale rivers to the west ˗ right at the doorstep of the domain controlled by the Franks and other Germanic tribes.

There was much pillaging and plundering ˗ back and forth ˗ for a few hundred years, up until the late 8th century, when none other than Charlemagne began a campaign to subjugate those pesky Wends along his empire’s eastern borders. His son, Charles the Younger, kept the family trade alive and won many battles on Wendish territory, including the defeat of Prince Miliduch and his band in 806 AD.

According to Sorbian folklore, Prince Miliduch did not really meet his Maker that day; he is, in fact, sleeping in a cave near the city of Görlitz and will awaken when it is time for Lusatia to be liberated again!

In that respect, Miliduch’s return is long overdue. The annexation of Wendish lands by Germanic settlers began in 929 and, despite being met with stiff resistance, was all but complete by the dawn of the 13th century. A crusade led by Henry the Lion ˗ and authorised by the Roman Catholic Church ˗ in 1147 proved particularly crippling, resulting in a great number of casualties among the Wends and causing their opposition to wither.

The towns established by the German newcomers gradually became important commercial centres and, as time steamrolled forward, the Wends were assimilated into these societies. Reduced to serfdom, they were prohibited from holding administrative positions, owning land, and becoming merchants, thus keeping them powerless.

The vast majority of Wends, that is. In the Spree valley in the heart of Lusatia, one of the old Slavic tribes continued to persevere ˗ The Sorbs.

The Rise of Nationalism

Though surrounded by Germans for centuries, the Sorbs have managed to preserve their ethnic identity, language, literature, and customs to this very day. In many ways, the methods devised to prevent them from doing so in the modern era have been just as aggressive as those applied in medieval times, making it all the more impressive that there is still a Sorb nation to speak of.

Following an extended stretch of somewhat milder repression that allowed for an uneasy coexistence between Germans and Sorbs, the pan-Slavic movement that swept across Central and Eastern Europe in the early 1800’s reignited nationalist sentiments within the marginalised community. This resulted in the publication of the first Sorbian dictionary in 1840 and the selection of the Slavic tricolour as the nation’s official flag at the Prague Slavic Congress in 1848.

For the first time in history, official Sorb associations were being founded outside of community churches, which had long acted as safe havens where language and culture could be practised. Surviving associations include an academic society called Maćica Serbska (1857) ˗ which, as far as I can tell, literally translates to “The Sorbian Womb” ˗ that once pushed for an ethnic Sorbian state in Lusatia, and Domowina (1912), a Bautzen-based umbrella organisation that acts as the community’s representative in its relations with official entities in Germany and abroad.

Many Sorbs became openly anti-German during World War I and it was common for draftees to desert in favour of fighting their Slavic cousins on the eastern front. When that war had come to an end, there were calls for an independent Lusatia, or for the region to be incorporated into Czechoslovakia. Both proposals were rejected by the German government and ignored at the Paris Peace Conference.

Under the Nazis, who refused to recognise the existence of a Sorb culture, Germanisation became an overt form of repression yet again. For instance, Maćica Serbska was banned in 1937 and was not revived until 1991. There was renewed action for separation from Germany straight after World War II, once more without success.

An Ever Shrinking Minority

By that time my mother had already been born, into a household where her grandparents conversed with one another in Sorbian. I do not recall ever hearing my own grandmother speak the language but I am sure she must have had a decent level of proficiency in her younger years.

My mother, despite having attended bilingual schools up until the age of 17 and being a member of the Domowina youth brigade for several years, only remembered a handful of words by the time she had reached the latter stages of her life.

She had largely forgotten the songs and dances, had never worn the intricate customary dress; if there had ever been an inner Sorbian identity to speak of, it was heavily diluted by decades of living in Asia and The Netherlands. Hence, my siblings and I were not instilled with a sense of Sorbian heritage whilst growing up.

There was one tradition that my mother did remember both vividly and fondly ˗ the Sorbian Easter Rides. Every year, a group of immaculately dressed gentlemen wearing black overcoats and top hats congregated in Bautzen and rode their horses into the surrounding countryside and villages, chanting and singing of the resurrection of Christ as they went along. Among them, one of my mother’s uncles; the one that had survived the last war.

En route, the Easter riders were met by enthusiastic crowds offering shots of schnapps in appreciation of their devotion. By the time the procession reached its final destination, the town of Radibor, many of the gentlemen were already fairly drunk ˗ and then they had to do it all over again on the way back!

The fact that these types of religious processions were openly taking place during the communist era exemplifies the rise in tolerance towards the Sorbs in the wake of World War II ˗ on paper, at least. The Soviet occupying forces were relatively agreeable towards their Slavic cousins and the right to cultural equality had been inserted into the constitutions of both Saxony and Brandenburg in 1948, compelling the state governments to start putting up bilingual signs and financing Sorbian language schools.

On the other hand, a large proportion of the ethnic Germans expelled from territories that had been incorporated into post-war Poland ended up resettling in Lusatia, further suppressing the percentage of Sorbs in the region’s overall population.

The discovery of extensive coal reserves in Lower Lusatia also inflicted damage to the community’s cohesion. Entire Sorbian villages were demolished in order to construct mines and factories, and their respective populations assimilated into wider society ˗ much like in medieval times.

A Critically Endangered Culture

German reunification did very little to halt the trend of diffusion. Rising unemployment in the former East Germany drove many Sorbs, especially the younger generations, to seek their luck and build a life outside of Lusatia.

Even though Sorbian education streams have been made accessible from nursery level all the way through to higher education, in some cases as a language of instruction rather than a voluntary subject, rates of fluency have continued to plummet.

In the late 19th century, when my great-grandparents were born, there were approximately 200,000 German citizens who identified themselves as Sorbs and many of the villages in Upper Lusatia were majority Sorb-speaking.

Nowadays, some 125 years later, the Sorbs are estimated to total no more than 60,000; two-thirds live in Saxony, the remainder in Brandenburg. The number of speakers with a good command of Upper Sorbian is around 25,000; it is believed that as few as 7,000 people are still capable of conversing in Lower Sorbian.

Sadly, the future does not give much reason for hope. According to Domowina, there is a severe lack of Sorb teachers and it is unlikely that the quality of the Sorbian school system can be maintained at its current level for much longer. If there were ever a time for Prince Miliduch to rise from his enduring slumber, this would be it.

Of Bautzen and its Watering Holes

View of Bautzen’s Ortenburg Castle by night

While I am certainly sympathetic towards the Sorb struggle to keep their culture alive and would genuinely like to make my own contribution to the cause in some shape or form, Mitko and I had not come to Bautzen to visit the Sorbian Museum or apply for Domowina membership. We were only in town for two nights and planned to visit the village where my mother grew up as well as Görlitz, where another old friend of her resides, the next day.

Our hotel was located right across the street from the Reichenturm (Empire Tower), often referred to as the Leaning Tower of Bautzen. Constructed in 1490 to strengthen the town’s fortifications, the tower still serves as the main point of entry to its medieval centre. Having entered, and travelled back into time by doing so, Mitko and I almost immediately came across an establishment capable of soothing our cravings for currywurst and beer.

There was initially some confusion when we walked inside and immediately placed our order with the lady standing behind the bar. She told us that we could order at the outside counter we had passed on our way in and sent us straight back out into the cold. Since only one of the restaurant’s 6 or 7 tables was occupied, Mitko and I took this to mean that she was patiently waiting for the last guests to leave and call it a night herself.

However, when I placed our order with the gentleman attending to the counter, he shouted something fully incomprehensible over his shoulder and gestured that we were free to go inside.

Landskron Premium Pilsner (4.8% ABV)

No matter, both currywurst and beer turned out to be delicious. Our brew of choice, a premium pilsner courtesy of the Görlitz-based Landskron brewery, smelled of citrus and fresh herbs, and poured a shiny, straw-like tone. Smooth and elegant with a distinct hoppy bitterness that eases into a dry finish, it embodies everything that I appreciate about a good German pils.

Landskron has been supplying beer to the good people of Upper Lusatia since 1869 and started gaining national acclaim during the GDR era with its Lausitzer Kindl (Lusatian Child), an unfiltered Helles-style brew which is still available today. The brewery is recognised as Germany’s largest craft beer producer in terms of production scale and its range of 13 brews is readily available at watering holes and convenience stores all over Saxony.

That introductory Landskron Premium Pilsner left me yearning for more but, unfortunately, Mitko and I felt compelled to make ourselves scarce. It was past 8 and the proprietress had already started closing up shop. We were out in the sticks, that much was apparent.

View of Bautzen’s Old Waterworks Tower (l) and St. Michael Church (r) by night

Frenzel-Bräu Pils (4.8% ABV)

A quick online check pointed us towards our next pint at the Spreeblick Restaurant & Brauhaus. True to its name, which translates to “View of the Spree”, the establishment is located right by the river, at the foot of the steep embankment upon which Bautzen was built.

The Spreeblick offers seasonal craft beers on tap and in bottles, all of which are brewed by Bautzen’s very own Frenzel-Bräu. Up and running since 2006, the micro-brewery’s first batch was brewed at the Spreeblick and its steadily-expanding range could only be enjoyed by restaurant and summer biergarten guests up until 2015.

That is when, due to popular demand, the brewery’s operations were expanded beyond its initial annual production capacity of 200 hl. This entailed moving out of the Spreeblick and into a new production facility. Almost a decade on, Frenzel-Bräu’s beers are available at a handful of F & B outlets in Bautzen and direct surroundings as well as supermarkets and liquor stores as far as Dresden.

The Frenzel-Bräu range consists of more than a dozen ˗ mostly unfiltered ˗ brews, some of them clearly inspired by regional themes. For instance, the Osterreiter Festbock (literally: Easter Rider Firm Bock), is promoted as an “Easter beer for strong men” and inspired by the old Sorb tradition of horseback processions discussed earlier on.

Furthermore, the Oberlausitzer Heidebräu (Upper Lusatian Heath Brew) is a “100% regional beer” prepared with a locally grown, old strain of barley ˗ which was originally introduced by the Franks ˗ and hops from the Elbe-Saale area. There is also the Bautz’ner Senf-Honig (Bautzen Mustard-Honey), a homage to the town’s foremost export.

Frenzel-Bräu also frequently collaborates with other brewers and suppliers in and around Bautzen, resulting in some pretty wacky creations. There is the Kamenzer Würstchen Bier (Kamenz Little Sausage Beer), which came into existence with the assistance of a sausage producer from the town of Kamenz, and a Pfefferkuchen Bier (Gingerbread Beer) brought to life with the input of a specialised bakery in Pulsnitz. In other words: Frenzel and the gang are not afraid to experiment!

The Frenzel-Bräu Pils sets itself apart by being a bit more malty than your average pilsner, an intriguing quality that warranted an encore. There were only two beers on tap at the Spreeblick that night and I was in the mood for pils anyway; Mitko also sampled a pint of the Dunkles, which he reported as being equally agreeable to the palate.

Pint of Frenzel-Bräu Pils at the Spreeblick Restaurant & Brauhaus in Bautzen

The rustically furnished restaurant had emptied out by 9:30 and the young lady behind the bar looked as if she were ready to sign off as well. Mitko and I were not quite ready to head back to the hotel just yet, making our way up one of the steeply-inclined lanes that meander into the old town in search of a night cap instead.

Landskron Pupen-Schultzes Schwarzes (3.8% ABV)

The going was slow ˗ for me, at least. My left leg had started bothering me several days prior in Dresden and although my Achilles tendon no longer felt like it was going to snap, it had become extremely stiff and I was walking with a limp. This too can have its advantages, however. One is more inclined to take regular breaks and a good look around; in a town as aesthetically pleasing as Bautzen, this is highly recommendable.

The streets were all but deserted and most of the restaurants we passed had already closed their doors for the night. Shortly after 10 we stumbled upon the Bautzener Senfstube, or Mustard Restaurant, where the lights were still switched on for the benefit of a single table of four, shamelessly rebelling against local etiquette by dining late. I assured the waitress on duty that we had only come for a drink, which brought a smile to her face.

Mitko and I both went for another representative of the Landskron range ˗ the Pupen-Schultzes Schwarzes. The suggestive name is a direct reference to a regional favourite of yesteryear, originally concocted by the Gustav Schultze & Sons Brewery in Cottbus, the cultural heart of Lower Lusatia.

Established in 1880, the brewery was nationalised by the GDR authorities in 1981 and its facilities have not been used for large scale brewing activities since. The patent rights to the Pupen-Schultzes trademark were acquired by Landskron at some point after German reunification, ensuring the legacy lives on.

Flaunting an alluring, deep ebony tone with a dense, long-lasting, cream-coloured head on top, the Landskron Pupen-Schultzes Schwarzes is truly a formidable sight. The nose is defined by the scent of figs and dried plums, the palate by malty sweetness revealing hints of caramel and liquorice. Its velvety soft body, rounded off with hints of honey, adds a final touch to a riveting stimulation of the senses.

Glass of Landskron Pupen-Schultzes Schwarzes at the Bautzener Senfstube

Nothing short of pleased with our ultimate haul of the night, Mitko and I moseyed on back to the hotel and fell asleep to a dubbed Hollywood B-movie.

A Jaunt Through Upper Lusatia

The following morning started with a leisurely stroll into the old town and a hearty brunch of bratwurst and potato salad. Shortly after 11, we set off in the direction of Malschwitz, or Malešecy, a village with roughly 3,500 inhabitants located some 6 km north-east of Bautzen.

The road to Malschwitz is narrow and winding with a few T-junctions and hairpin turns thrown in the mix; the landscape it negotiates is open and vast. Every kilometre or two, a church tower rises out of the green fields to signify the nearing of another timeless farming settlement before, in no more than an instant, it is left behind.

I imagined my mother being jolted around in the seat of an old school bus puttering to and from Bautzen, excitedly discussing something she had read or heard with the friend bouncing up and down beside her. I could see her as a child, sitting beside her grandfather ˗ whom she adored ˗ on top of a horse-drawn wagon as she accompanied him on an errand in a neighbouring village. My mother always said her childhood had been carefree; the short ride to Malschwitz was enough to make me realise why.


The last time I had been to Malschwitz, I was in my early teens and most of my recollections of that visit have since become a bit blurred. The church looked familiar though, and I immediately recognised the family home of my mother’s stepfather, which has been converted into municipal offices.

Municipal offices of Malschwitz

To my great dismay, however, I did not have a clue where my great-grandparents’ farm had once stood. It dawned on me that, within my family, there was nobody left to ask.

Mitko and I walked down a few of the lanes that emanate from the church square in a bid to jolt my memory, always reaching the edge of the village within a couple of minutes. After a series of failed attempts, we stepped through the wide open doors of the church but there was nobody inside. I lit a candle for my mother and decided to try my luck at the bakery across the way instead.

The lady behind the counter was of my age or younger and had never heard my unconventional matrilineal surname before. She did have a hunch that her colleague may be able to be of better assistance though, and briefly disappeared into the back room. On her return, she was accompanied by a lady who looked to be approaching 60. I repeated our reasons for coming to Malschwitz and, to my great delight, the elder lady recognised my mother’s maiden name.

Be that as it may, she did not know where the old family farmhouse had been situated either. What she could do is call someone who would definitely be able to tell us ˗ her mother. Within a minute, Mitko and I were provided an address and pointed in the right direction. Another minute or two after my heartfelt gratitude had been expressed to the ladies at the bakery, we had reached our destination.

Mitko and I were welcomed into a cosy home extension flooded with natural light and smelling of sauerkraut. Our hostess ˗ whom we shall call Frau T. (Mrs. T.) ˗ apologised for not having prepared any for us. We were invited to make ourselves comfortable at a robust wooden table with a view of the fields to the north and, after I had expanded on the purpose of my visit, the lady started telling me more about herself.

Frau T. ˗ who claimed to be 84 years old but did not look a day over 70 ˗ had moved to Malschwitz in the late 60’s and, therefore, had never met my mother but she did remember my grandmother and granduncle well. We got to talking about our respective families in further detail and it was revealed that the lady had raised 8 children who had, in their turn, enriched her life with a whopping 55 grandchildren. I joked that she must receive a lot of presents for Christmas. She stared at me blankly and said that the numbers pale in comparison to the amount that she has to buy!

It turns out Frau T. also acts as the church concierge and I was duly informed that it was possible to access the parish registries, but only on appointment. Seeing that Mitko and I would be departing for Bratislava the very next day, there was not enough time to compile all the excerpts relating to my maternal bloodline on this trip. Frau T. and I did make a point of exchanging addresses so that she may be notified ahead of my next visit.

Before we said our goodbyes, Frau T. accompanied us to a bland, relatively modern house about halfway down the street in the direction of the church square. Apart from a single section of the old stables, which was renovated and converted into a garage, there is little evidence to suggest the plot once formed the heart of a much larger farm.

Even so, as Mitko and I continued walking towards the car, I noticed a path alongside the plot’s outer wall that led to a little stream ˗ the stream that used to function as a natural boundary to my great-grandparents’ land, the one in which my mother had splashed around as a little girl. Another fond memory of a carefree childhood that she liked to share.

View of Malschwitz church tower


Greatly encouraged by the cordial interactions we had experienced in Malschwitz and the clear blue skies above us, Mitko and I stuck to the country roads and zigzagged south-east towards the Polish border. We arrived in Görlitz, or Zhorjelc in Upper Sorbian, around 1 o’clock and had a couple of hours to kill before our meeting with my mother’s old friend was due to take place.

In stark contrast to Bautzen, we found Görlitz in a semi-dilapidated state. I say semi because every single street we turned into was lined with old townhouses, about a third of them beautifully renovated, the rest looking like crack dens ˗ side by side, in alternation, row after row. Mitko was not impressed; I was more perplexed than anything else.

In hindsight, we made the mistake of opting for free parking on the fringes of town rather than finding a spot somewhere closer to the historical city centre. Under normal circumstances we would have probably made it on foot all the same but my limp was slowing us down. In the end, we had lunch at a kebab joint near the central train station and arrived at the home of my mother’s friend ahead of schedule.

When I commented on the haphazard reconstruction efforts Mitko and I had observed, she explained that large sections of the old town had not been properly maintained during the GDR era. Moreover, a chronic lack of funding had hampered any large scale renovation projects comparable to those carried out in Dresden or Bautzen from taking place.

Fortunately, at a certain point ˗ somewhere around the turn of the century, if I’m not mistaken ˗ the city of Görlitz started receiving substantial annual donations from an anonymous foreign benefactor eager to stimulate and support any long overdue rebuilding activities.

Over the years, their generosity had enabled the restoration of the historical old centre and similar projects had already been initiated in other parts of town when, out of the blue, the mystery goose stopped rolling its golden eggs over to Görlitz. It seems they were so appalled by the victory of the AfD ˗ Germany’s largest right-wing populist political party ˗ in the latest local elections that all love was lost.

Time Travel and Craft Beer at the Mönchshof

Medieval-themed decorations outside the Restaurant Mönchshof in Bautzen

On our second and final evening in Bautzen, Mitko and I had dinner at Restaurant Mönchshof (Monks Court). We had walked past the place the night before, and again that morning, and were amused by its medieval theme. The standing chalk board broadcasting promises of traditional food and craft beer inside had also caught our attention.

The restaurant is located in an old monastery and divided into various elaborately but tastefully decorated sections. As there were no tables available in the Councillor’s Room, Study or Servant’s Room, we were shown to one in the middle of “The Seclusion”, in plain view of the Old Monastic Kitchen ˗ otherwise known as the bar.

The medieval theme extends to all facets of the dining experience. The “maids and man servants” are dressed in traditional outfits, the dishes on the menu are prepared according to traditional recipes and served on clay platters, the beers are poured into clay mugs, etc. In addition, anyone who shows up dressed as, say, a medieval farmer, monk or knight, can expect “the landlord” to give them a 10% discount at the end of the night.

All the produce incorporated into the dishes on offer are locally sourced. The bread is home made, the vegetables home grown, the beers brewed on site or elsewhere in Bautzen ˗ absolutely no “new and modern, devilish rubbish” to be perceived nor had. I was in the mood for the Bautzner Senffleisch (pork cutlets drenched with mustard sauce, served with dumplings), Mitko went for a massive tray of cold cuts. There were four brews on tap, we were confident none of them would disappoint.

Rother Abt (5.6% ABV)

To start off the proceedings, Mitko and I tried the Mönchshof’s very own Rother Abt (Red Abbott). Served in specially made red clay mugs, it was difficult to determine the brew’s colour; my best guess would be a reddish shade of blonde. Nose and palate are both malty, the finish slightly earthy.

Although I wasn’t exactly blown away, I could appreciate the Rother Abt’s organic nature and the natural flavours brought to the fore. In that respect, the brew is perfectly in line with the restaurant’s theme.

Alt Budissiner Schwarzes (5.0% ABV)

Another home made brew, this one served in white clay mugs with the beer’s name inscribed in blue Fraktur font, the Alt Budissiner Schwarzes (Old Budyšin Black) pours a dark brown with a reddish hue. I found its malty, doughy scent with light notes of coffee particularly pleasing. Overtones of malty sweetness define the taste and a slight bitterness in the finish adds an element of refreshment to every sip. All in all, a praiseworthy accomplishment.

Bautzener Kupfer (5.2% ABV)

The Bautzner Kupfer (Bautzen Copper) is a creation of the Bautzener Brauhaus, another local micro-brewery who primarily produce for the benefit of the guests that enter their own dining establishment.

This copper-coloured beer is high in carbonisation with a slight head; its nose is malty with hints of caramel and vanilla. Taste-wise, we were treated to roasted malts and caramel to start off with and somehow came to finish with notes of herbal, grassy hops at the finish. This complex transition progresses harmonically, a feat also worthy of praise and applause.

Bautzener Helles (4.0% ABV)

Last but not least, Mitko and I had a pint of this slim and elegant, unfiltered blonde, also courtesy of the Bautzener Brauhaus. We were in jolly agreement that we had come to the right place, but we weren’t speaking of the Mönchshof specifically ˗ Bautzen as a whole had left a lasting impression on us.

Many lasting impressions, in fact; too may to summarise without going off on another long tangent. What it boils down to is a sense of being more connected to Bautzen and its surroundings than ever before now that blurred memories of a fleeting visit have been replaced with vivid mental images of a place in which I felt completely at ease. Almost at home, I dare say.

Wall decorations inside the Mönchshof in Bautzen

By Christopher Andel

Born in Bangkok to a Dutch father and German mother, Christopher has spent much of his life pedalling back and forth between Europe and South East Asia. A true ‘Jack of all trades’, he has worked as an environmental consultant, language tutor, and roadie for the Chippendales, just to name a few. He currently resides in the Netherlands and is patiently plotting a return to greener pastures.

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