During a three month stay in The Netherlands we took a trip via train to the city of Bamberg which is situated in the north of Bavaria, Germany. The main purpose was to seek out a style of beer called Rauchbier which is a German smoked beer and Bamberg is well renowned for having a number of breweries specializing in these.
The medieval city of Bamberg dates back to the 10th century and is situated in the District of Upper Franconia. Due to the huge number of intact and spectacular buildings it is now designated a UNESCO World Heritage Centre.
Upon arriving after an 8 hour train journey that involved many changes in Koln, Frankfurt and other German cities we ventured out in search of our first brewery. Down a narrow street less that 10 minutes from our hotel was Brauerei Klosterbräu which is the oldest brewery in the city dating back to 1533. Here I sampled their Bockbier Hell which was not smoked but was light in color with a caramel flavor and 7.0% ABV.
Next morning I went in search of probably the most famous and widely distributed of the smoked beer breweries, Schlenkerla, whose full name is Brauereiausschank Schlenkerla (Brewpub Schlenkerla) and dates back to 1678.
There was one style of beer on tap and this was the seasonal Urbock which was being served from tapped oak barrels having been aged. The beer was dark in color with a pleasant smokiness, 6.5% ABV and bittered to 40 IBUs.
During the evening we went to visit the first of two breweries that we had passed whilst walking from the train station to our hotel which were located opposite each other. Brauerei Spezial dates back to 1536 and has, like a number of these breweries, benched seating and a typical German food menu.
The beers sampled were:
- Lagerbier – Rauchbier based on the Munich Helles style with 4.7% ABV.
- Marzenbier – Rauchbier based on the Märzen style with 5.3% ABV.
- Specialbrau-Weissbier – a classic Weizen with 5.0% ABV.
Across the street at Brauerei Fässla, which dates back to 1649, we sampled a variety of non-smoked beers:
- Gold-Pils – a German Pilsner at 5.5%.
- Lagerbier – a Munich Helles at 5.5%.
- Weizla – a Weissbier at 5.0%.
- Bambergator – a Doppelbock at 8.5%.
On the Sunday we walked across to the other side of town in the middle of a residential neighborhood were two breweries were located diagonally opposite each other. We went for lunch at Mahr’s Bräu which dates back to 1670.
Beers sampled at this bar were:
- Helles – described a a “Pale Ale style full-beer” at 4.9% ABV.
- >>aU<< – a natural lager with an unusual name pronounced “ah Oooo” and 5.2% ABV.
- Weisse – a Weizen poured from the bottle with 4.9% ABV.
We arrived at Brauerei Keesmann with only 15 mins before the end of service so managed to cram in a single beer each which were a Bock and a Weissbier.
Brauerei Greifenklau was our last brewery visit in the city of Bamberg, this one dated back to 1585 and was very busy. There were two beers on offer so the choice was limited, these were a Lager at 4.8% ABV and a Weizen at 5.2% ABV.
Our trip to Bamberg was both enjoyable and interesting. The beer scene is great whilst the architecture is equally comparable. One place I regret not getting to was Weyermann who are a provider of specialty brewing malts for both commercial and home brewers. I can certainly recommend this city for a visit to all craft beer enthusiasts.
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