The complete chronicle is available in German and English for 25 Euros at the "Sternbräu". You can also place an online order here (plus packaging and postage, shipping only in Austria).
The oldest merchant settlement in Salzburg was located on the Waagplatz. From there, the lines of houses of the medieval town grew along the banks of the Salzach. In 1104 the first properties on the Trabegasse are mentioned in writing. When Salzburg received its first town charter in 1287, the town wall may already have been completed. The inhabitants used the area up to the bank of the river for gardens and fields. The current Sternbräu site was still a cultivated green area at this point in time.
The first mention of a beer brewer in Salzburg is made in 1374; by 1500 five more businesses had emerged, which were then followed by another seven at the start of the 17th century. In 1542, Hanns Riexinger is the first beer brewer and owner of the brewery inn to be mentioned in documentation. The name “Zum (goldenen) Stern” became established in the 17th century. The name comes from the nearby “Sternbastei”, which had been constructed on the bank of the Salzach during the 30 Years War.
The Salzburg Police Ordinance of 1524 confirmed for the last time the old hospitality rights of every citizen of Salzburg to serve drink here in the town to the public, whether it be wine, mead or beer. The first restricting conditions can already be found in the so-called "Cristan Reutterschen Town Book" from around 1500. Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau enacted a restrictive catering ordinance on 1st June 1595 for regulatory reasons: he limited the public houses to 35 inns for wine, three for sweet wine and five for mead, and 13 breweries.
In 1743 ownership of the building passed to Johann Mathias Wilhelmseder, whose parents had purchased the "Goldenen Stern" and transferred it to their son. Wilhelmseder was already married and held citizenship. Neither of them, however, had expected the guild-like, strict regulation of training as he searched for an apprenticeship, to learn the trade of brewing. Even the magistrate pointed out that we know of no example of our trade being learnt by a married citizen and of him being approved. He nevertheless received approval and was finally … declared a master.
After the passing of Sophia Wilhelmseder, an inventory was taken of the whole property on 7th April 1756. From this is it can be seen that the inn was already one of the larger public houses in Salzburg. The listing showed 80 tables and 56 beds, most of which stood in the guest rooms. Also noted was a baroque chapel with an organ, which had been set up by her husband. The total value of the movables was 1,607 guilders, which was far exceeded, however, by the stored grain (3,448 guilders, 2,277 guilders of which was barley for brewing) and the stored wine (3,384 guilders).
In keeping with the latest fashion in catering there was a summer house in the garden of the “Goldenen Stern”. As well as eating, drinking, celebrating, dancing and playing, an abundance of other activities can also be ascertained. The inn was a place for all kinds of artists to perform and was a hub for goods and services.
In the years 1770 to 1772 there were severely poor harvests throughout Central Europe and a rapid increase in food prices. A lack of grain forced most breweries to cease business. While the rural communities were forced to deliver barley for the royal brewery Kaltenhausen, it was forbidden for the town brewers to purchase it in the countryside. The hard conditions and reduced purchasing power of the population led to numerous bankruptcies, including that of Johann Mathias Wilhelmseder, whose debts had already reached 50,000 guilders in 1771.
When the “Sternbräu” property was auctioned in 1772, the prosperous country chancellor and war councillor Johann Ernst von Antretter was the highest bidder. The new owner of the brewery at the “Goldenen Stern” was the foster-son and heir of mayor Kaspar Wilhelmseder (1741–1755), an uncle of the petitioner for bankruptcy. But at first the heyday of the “Goldenen Stern” was over and Antretter sold the brewery and catering establishment to Kordula Hierl in1781.
The Mozart family, who lived not far away, also went to the “Goldenen Stern”, as revealed by mentions in correspondence. Leopold Mozart even considered moving there.
Tell Wolfgang that the big-eyed Mundbecken daughter, who danced with him at the “Stern” and often paid him such friendly complements, and then finally entered a nunnery in Loretto, has returned to her father's house again.
(Letter from Leopold Mozart to his wife from 23rd Oct. 1777)
So you must write to tell me whether we should lodge at the “Sailerwirt”, the “Star” or the “Saulentzl”.
(Leopold Mozart in a letter to his wife from 20th Feb. 1770 re. his considerations for a new apartment)
In addition to their actual task of serving guests with food and drink, the Salzburger inns performed another important function: they were "offices" for the numerous messengers who travelled the land. The message system was a kind of private letter and parcel service with set arrival and departure times. Most messengers waited for their customers in the Sternbräu: from there they set off for Kirchberg, Kitzbühel, Lofer, Mauerkirchen, Tittmoning and Mühldorf with the letters with which they had been entrusted.
Up until the 2nd half of the 19th century there have been 13 breweries in the city of Salzburg. Although the cramped conditions in the Old City meant that only a slight brewing output was possible, the “Sternbräu” nevertheless managed to climb to being the second-biggest city brewery. In 1870, 4,630 hectolitres of beer were brewed. The "Sternbräuer" back then were called Mathias Schießling, Anton Hörl and Johann Schwaiger. The grave of Mathias Schießling (Schüßling) can be found in the St. Sebastian Cemetery.
In 1887, “Sternbräu” was transformed into a public company and was from then on called "Actiengesellschaft Sternbräu in Salzburg". The executive board included members of the brewing family Wieninger, and the Chairman of the Board for many years was Otto Spängler, Director of the Salzburg Savings Bank. The popular beer garden was already provided with electric lighting in 1888.
From around 1890, beer production at the “Sternrbäu” had continued to constantly increase and had reached around 30,000 hectolitres per year at the turn of the century. On 25th June 1906 the ground-breaking ceremony therefore took place for the construction of a new brewery building in the Riedenburg. After a year of construction work, the new brewhouse was put into operation on 8th July 1907. The malting plant and inn remained on Getreidegasse.
After the relocation of the beer production to the Riedenburg, the old ice cellar in the “Sterngarten” was demolished. In its place, a cosy veranda was created where the inn's customers could refresh themselves with a good Sternbier. During this period, many bands and entertainers appeared at the Sternbräu; in July 1910, for example, the "world's smallest Schuhplattler" (a type of folk dancer) appeared. Back then, beer consumption in Salzburg reached its highest ever measured level, at more than 200 litres per head (2011: 108 litres).
A major reshaping of the catering at the “Sternbräu” took place in 1926. Additional space was gained for the kitchen and dining areas with the purchase of the building at Griesgasse 23–25. The citizen's hall and the “Bräustüberl” (brewery small room) were created during this period, and on the roof there gleamed the city's first neon sign, which still exists today.
The painter Karl Reisenbichler created 13 pictures with motifs from Salzburg's history, within a few weeks – apparently only in return for food and lodgings. They were placed on the walls of the citizen's hall, where they will once again be on display after the renovation. Also in 1929, the inn and brewery of Sternbräu AG were taken over by Österreichische Brau AG.
A recent renovation brought more free space between the lanes Getreidegasse and Griesgasse. The old, disused brewery was demolished, apart from the malt house, and in its place the second big “Sternbräu” beer garden was created, the so-called "Volkskeller". Numerous constructional changes were also carried out in the catering area - during full operation of the inn – including the building of an arbour leading all the way around the restaurant garden.
From 1945, “Sternbräu” - like many other Salzburg inns and hotels – was commandeered by the US authorities. The inn functioned as a big canteen for the Salzburger civilian employees of the occupying power and was released again in 1949. On 1st October 1949, its celebratory reopening took place.
Because of its size, the “Sternbräu” was the venue of many balls, fancy-dress parties and other sociable entertainments in the 2nd half of the 20th century. The "Typographia-Gschnas" fancy-dress party, which took place annually from 1950 to 1987in the “Sternbräu”, developed into by far the most well-known and most popular Carnival event.
The flea market of the Lions Club Hohensalzburg is one of the best known charity events in Austria. It has been held in the Sternbräu since 1963 and in 2012 took place for the 50th time. After the two-year renovation, the flea market will be returning to its traditional venue.
The last big renovation before the current renewal took place in 1986/87. The work back then included the construction of, among other things, the pavilion in the Volksbiergarten, the arcade along the inn's facade, new premises in the old malt house building, the indicated gate entrance and the music pavilion in the restaurant garden. The client for the renovation at that time was Österreichische Brau AG.
In the first century of the new millennium, there was a swift change of owners. In 2005, the Vienna CA Immo AG bought Sternbräu from the Brau Union Österreich AG. They finally sold the property in 2009 to the present owner, a subsidiary company of IBT.AG.
Imprint: these extracts from the Sternbräu chronicle were produced with the kind support of: Salzburger Stadtarchiv, Salzburger Landesarchiv and Salzburg Museum
Research and text: Autorengemeinschaft Ammerer-Waitzbauer Ges.n.b.R. (Ammerer-Waitzbauer Author's Group)