Since time immemorial, beer has been brewed in Siegerland. With home-grown hops and well-trained master brewers, the town’s many private and craft breweries would deliver beer to inns by horse-drawn cart in the 17th and 18th centuries. Brauhaus Irle is one such establishment. Beer continues to be brewed by the most tradition-conscious of breweries to this day, and served at the SuDWERK restaurant in the Kaan-Marienborn district.
“Drink beer where it is brewed”
Such is the motto of SuDWERK Siegen in Kaan-Marienborn, where beer has been brewed since 1693. Its foundations were laid by Johannes Irle, bellows maker by trade and the owner of a number of inns, agricultural estates and sections of foundries. When his great-grandson Daniel Irle took the reins of the company late in the 18th century, he set about constructing a water pipeline to supply fresh, soft spring water from nearby Berg Galmerich to the brewery. Over the decades, the characteristically aromatic, subtly tangy Irle Edel-Pils grew in popularity, even beyond the Siegerland region. During the brewery’s heyday in the 1970s, annual output expanded to over 100,000 litres.
Around the turn of the millennium, the brewery resolved to go back to its roots. Following substantial market pressure and years of recession, Irle speciality beers are now exclusively available at the SuDWERK, on the site of the former large-scale brewery with the welcoming beer garden.
Remarkably, a brewing facility – small, but one of the most modern in the country – is installed in the actual dining area. Here the Irle master brewer makes beer with a dedication unchanged in over 300 years (although these days, thanks to modern technology, the process is far more sustainable and resource-efficient). Alongside classic Irle Edel-Pils, guests can sample light and dark versions of the naturally cloudy Zwickelbier.
To accompany these, the SuDWERK serves delicious regional dishes such as Siegerland Krüstchen, Haubergssteak, Brauhausburger and many more.
“The fountain of youth for anaemic people, nervous types and breastfeeding mothers”
It seems hard to believe now, but in the early part of the 20th century, dark Weidenau wheat beer was marketed as having these properties. Owing to the addition of rock sugar, it had a relatively low alcohol content and a high nutritional value; it was brewed at the Weidenau brewery, located between the Weidenau and Geisweid districts. To win through against vigorous competition (there were many breweries operating in Siegen at the time), founders Robert Steinseifer and Karl Vetter deliberately recruited a master brewer from the south of Germany to brew the special beer. To secure a strong position, workers even built a large ‘ice cellar’ into the rock from the main building to accommodate ice blocks chipped out in winter. Unfortunately, their efforts proved to be in vain: today the one-time construction site belongs to the art faculty of the University of Siegen. The main brick building and side building, where the master brewer once lived, are heritage-protected. A pointer to the former inhabitant lies in the intricately carved, hand-crafted front door with its fruit-bearing hop branch and ears of barley.
Then and now
Siegerland can point to a long tradition of brewing, as evidenced by the breweries of the region that have successfully achieved widespread renown. These include Krombacher in nearby Kreuztal: an ancient document testifies that beer was brewed in Krombach and sold to travelling merchants as early as 1618. Today, Germany’s largest private brewery, founded in 1803, stands on the site. Also of note are the nearby C. & A. VELTINS brewery in Sauerland and the Warsteiner brewery in the Arnsberg Forest Nature Park. Just beyond the southwestern limits of Siegen, the Erzquell brewery has been producing its popular Erzquell Pils since 1885. Its balanced character derives from the spring situated right above the brewery in the Giebelwald forest nature reserve – its soft, pure water is perfect for brewing pils.
Brauhaus J. F. Irle GmbH
Tel. 0271 3039775