Looking back: the origin of Bürgerbräu

How it all began

For centuries there have been so-called Kommunbrauer – municipal brewers – in the small towns of Franconian Switzerland. Most of them were innkeepers with a vested right to serve their own beer in their restaurant. In the 19th century in Hersbruck those brewers split into two groups: those with their own brewery and those that worked as municipal brewers.

Johann Konrad Deinlein (*28.01.1831) was the first to be mentioned in a document as brewer. His brewery was inherited by his son. For some economic upheavals the brewery was sold and Johann Konrad (the younger) started working as municipal brewer.

His son Hans didn’t want to become a brewer. He became a notary’s clerk instead. But then he started missing his father’s craft. He acquired a restaurant with a municipal brewer’s license at the Unterer Markt, worked hard, survived World War One, got married in 1918 and on 26th July of 1920 he founded Bürgerbräu Hersbruck, Deinlein & Co. together with other partners in today’s legal form.

Where many shareholders are involved, arguments are predictable. Hans Deinlein left the management in anger. He founded a beer depot in Nuremberg. Again he invested a lot of work, and again he was successful. During the world economic crisis of 1928/29 the Bürgerbräu seemed to collapse. Hans Deinlein was asked back to Hersbruck, he sold the depot, returned to the brewery and turned it into a limited partnership and became the personally liable shareholder.

After World War Two he was tried to be pushed out of the brewery once again. But on his birthday in the year 1948 the US-American military government confirmed Hans Deinlein as shareholder and general manager. From 1951 onwards the brewery was entirely owned by him and his family.

In the year 1956 Hans Deinlein passed away. He was succeeded by his widow Babette and their daughter Lotte. Lotte became the sole managing director on January 1st of 1969 and stayed as such until 2003. Her work was successful and the brewery blossomed. What a stroke of luck having her daughter Ursula married to the younger son of the Lichtenauer Hauff-Brewery, Hermann Weid. As a degree holding brewmaster he saw the necessity of modernization in good time. This is probably the main reason why Bürgerbräu Hersbruck maintains its position in the rough competition up till today.

Lotte’s daughter Urusla became managing director in 2003. Until her death in January 2009 Lotte Götz continued working for the brewery, just as it is common in family-run companies. And by now the next generation has already come on board. The next managing director will, again,  be a woman – Sonja Weid (*1976).

The big fire of 1987

On May 18th 1987 at about 10:30pm a fire burst out in the company’s smith’s shop. The warehouse for fulls, the “Schalander” (the labourer’s break room), the brewmaster’s office and the toilets burnt down.

What a blow.

But the management proved stamina. Together with the staff they got by. The new warehouse for fulls, including the adjacent buildings was ready by December of 1987.

And out of this experience came a strong lasting friendship with the voluntary fire brigade of Hersbruck.

A short anecdote from those ‘hot’ days:
When the comrades assigned to the firewatch entered the remains of the warehouse, the brewmaster at that time, Hans Zink pointed on the fulls and stated briefly:
“You can drink up all those!”

This remark is quoted with pleasure up to today.