Visiting a Besenwirtschaft (Besen) was top of my list for Baden Württemberg cultural exploration when we moved here, and being new in town (and therefore friendless and in need of a decent night out) it seemed like a good way to
find some decent wine ease into a new social scene.
What is a Besenwirtschaft?
Literally a broom pub (Besen = broom) (+) (wirtschaft = pub). In the real world it is actually a temporary public bar set up by a wine producer in which they sell their own wine for a limited set amount of time per year. The broom is an indicator of a Besen and is generally visible from the main road, it may be illuminated or have ribbons attached to catch your attention (though you’ll find some on the inside).
When are Besen open?
End of summer and early Autumn through to early spring is the norm, although there is no definitive time they must be open so you will find a few open in summer too. The law dictates that they may only open for two periods totalling no more than four months and seat up to 40 people, though the latter is a maybe a little more open to interpretation.
What to expect
A Besen can come in many forms. From a sitting room in a private house to a function room on a farm to a restaurant in a hotel, and those are just the ones we’ve actually visited. A warm schwabian welcome is the norm but don’t expect an English menu or any frills, especially if your chosen Besen is on a farm. Sharing tables is part of what gives a Besen it’s atmosphere, squeeze up, there’s always room for one more.
A night out at a Besen is generally pretty affordable, especially if you head out of the city slightly, we’ve had a smashing night for under 30euro including a bottle to take home. It depends on the Besen, pricing is at the owners discretion.
What to drink?
Local wine! Trollinger is a pretty reliable red, dry but still sweeter than any dry I’ve had before, more like a deeper rosé. Also don’t be too surprised when you get served a viertele (250ml) in a lovely glass mug with a green handle.
You may only have a choice of red, white or rosé, especially at a smaller more local Besen, ask what they recommend to suit your taste, I always get the most dry they offer and I’ve never been disappointed. If you prefer Schorle (spritzers) to straight up wine consider ordering some water too and mixing your own. Don’t worry non alcoholic drinks are available, they just won’t necessarily be homegrown like the wine and just a warning that no beer is sold at a Besen (they are not allowed to). If you want to know what to eat, check back tomorrow.
Take public transport, plan your route using the VVS. Be respectful, particularly where you are invited into a private residence. A little German goes a long way, and locals are pretty good about letting you practice on them and have been really great about explaining wines and menu items to us. Some Besen have a selection of bottles that you can buy and take home, one of the best bottles I’ve tasted in a long time came home with us from a Besen. Drink as much water as you do wine, that’s just to help your head!
How do I find a Besen?
If you happen to be in Baden Württemberg keep your eyes open for a broom (usually accompanied by an arrow and a sign saying Besen), it will generally be visible from a main road. Your local paper may have listings, or online (google is your friend) sites like the Ludwigsburger wochenblatt, Besentermine, Besen-weinstuben (which lights up when a Besen is open) or Besenkalendar. If you are travelling especially to go to a particular Besen I would recommend calling ahead just to check if they are open, sometimes misprints happen.
Recommendations for new places to try always gratefully received.