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Smoked beer in Bamberg

By Oriol Salvador from scannerFM

Almost as important to anyone who visits the city of Bamberg, about one hour from Nuremburg, as discovering its historic and architectural heritage (the thousand-year-old cathedral, for example) is discovering the history of its beer: smoked beer (or Rauchbier in German).

It is a traditionally-made beer that is typical of Bamberg. The dark colour and smoky flavour is caused by leaving the malt to dry by fire during the production process. There are nine traditional breweries still in full operation in Bamberg, which produce a total of fifteen different types of smoked beer.

As part of the many attractions of paying a visit to the city of Bamberg, here we propose a quick tour to discover the traditional breweries that are dotted throughout the city and to try out the Rauchbier offered at each one.

Do we need to remind you to drink responsibly?

Klosterbräu

This brewery was established in 1533. It is a good place to start because it is not far from the city centre. Besides the good service and the friendly staff, you can try out the smoked beer they make on the premises and combine it with something from their extensive offer of traditional German cuisine. If the weather is favourable, you can even enjoy your beer at one of the tables on the streetside terrace.

One of the varieties they offer (and our recommendation) is the Klosterbräu Bockbier: a strong beer, with a subtle hint of hops, a great body and a certain sweetness to it. It has a 7% alcohol content and forms an excellent head over the golden liquid.

Open every day from 11:00 to 14:00 (Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays until 14:30) and from 17:00 and 22:00 (Sundays until 21:00). Further information: www.klosterbraeu.de (in German)

Ambräusianum

A young couple took the risk of opening Ambräusianum back in 2004, a new traditional brewery. Their gamble has paid off. In only a short few years, their brewery has become one of the most popular among both locals and visitors alike. The central location on Dominikanerstraße, very close to the cathedral, helps bring in trade.

Ambräusianum Hell is one of the most recommendable varieties of smoked beer among the many beers they offer: a strong beer (albeit with a moderate 5% alcohol content) with an amber-gold colour that is produced using natural yeast, giving it a fresh aroma and a certain fruity taste.

Open every day (except Monday) from 11:00. You can find more information and its menu of traditional German cuisine at: www.ambraeusianum.de (in German)

Fässla Brewery

The history behind the Fässla Brewery dates back to 1649, the first year of peace after the Thirty Years War. Today, a new generation that is well-trained in the art of brewing beer maintains the family tradition alive. What’s more, when looking for somewhere to stay in Bamberg, it is worth knowing that they also run a hotel.

The wide variety of beers they offer includes Echtes Bamberger Zwergla: a dark, almost mahogany-coloured beer with a moderate 6% alcohol content and a smooth, rounded finish. This and all the other varieties can be enjoyed at the brewery or bought to take away with you.

The brewery itself opens every day from 08:30 to 23:00 (Sundays until 13:00). They also offer traditional German cuisine from 11:00 until 14:00 and from 18:00 until 21:00 every day except Sunday. Further information can be found on the website at: www.faessla.de (in German and English)

Greifenklau Brewery

Discounting a pause during the first half of the 20th Century, the history behind Greifenklau dates back to 1731 and beyond. A little further from the city centre, they offer lunch and dinner in their restaurant with special prices and set meals for groups of tourists. If the sun is out, you can enjoy your beer in their large beer garden.

From among the variety of smoked beers they offer, we recommend the Greifenklau Lager: golden colour and a 4.8% alcohol content, an extremely white and creamy head, a slightly malty aroma and a smooth finish. A great example of the typical beer from the Franconia region of Germany.

Open Tuesday to Saturday from 10:30 and Sundays from 09:30 to 14:00. Closed on Mondays. Further information can be found at: www.greifenklau.de (in German and English)

Kaiserdom Brewery

While soaking up the atmosphere of the cosy dining hall at Kaiserdom, visitors can enjoy the typical cuisine of the Franconia region and its traditional beers. They have one modern dining hall and another more rustic one. They are both very welcoming but there is also a third option provided the weather is kind: the outdoor terrace. There is also a hotel on the same premises so staying the night (or longer!) is another option to be considered.

From among their selection of beers, we recommend the Weizenland Weißbier: a golden beer with a somewhat cloudy appearance due to the sediment from the yeast during fermentation in the bottle. It has a fresh, slightly fruity taste and is dry on the palate. A very refreshing beer.

As is the case at some other breweries, they are closed on Mondays. Open Tuesday to Saturday from 07:00 to 13:30 and 17:00 to 23:00. Open Sundays and public holidays from 11:30. Check www.hotel-kaiserdom.de (in German)

Keesmann Brewery

The Keesmann Brewery was established in 1867 and has maintained its family tradition ever since. Located opposite the Mariahilf Church, their offer includes wheat beer and light beer.

However, the Keesman Herren Pils is undoubtedly their star beer. A pale beer from which a certain malty aroma can be noted in an exquisitely dry body with a refreshing and highly-enjoyable finish.

Unlike other breweries in Bamberg, this one closes on Sundays. Open Monday to Saturday from 09:00 until 23:00 on weekdays and until 15:00 on Saturdays.

Mahr’s Bräu Brewery

Visiting the Mahr’s Bräu brewery means discovering one of the oldest breweries in the city of Bamberg. There are records to show it was established in 1670 and it has been offering a wide variety of beers ever since.

The most popular of them all must be the Mahr’s Ungespundetes, also known by its nickname: “U”. It is an amber-coloured beer with a certain cloudiness to it. It has a strong malt and yeast smell that gives it a rather unique aroma.

Open every day from 09:00 to 23:00.

Schlenkerla Brewery

This is one of the most popular traditional breweries in the city and also one of the most central. Trying its offer of smoked beers or its menu of traditional regional cuisine is just as recommendable as taking the time to savour the rustic décor to be found throughout the building. Historical documents record that this brewery was established in 1405 and the sixth generation of the Trum family is currently maintaining the tradition.

The beer we recommend from among its offer is perhaps the most characteristic of all smoked beers. Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier is a dark beer with a malty aroma and a certain smoky tasty that characterises and distinguishes it from others.

This brewery opens every day from 09:30 to 23:30. For further information, visit its website at: www.schlenkerla.de (in several languages, including English and Spanish)

Spezial Brewery

Only five minutes from the train station can be found the Spezial Brewery. This traditional brewery offers a rustic atmosphere and unmissable gastronomy. It also has a hotel.

The most recommendable smoked beer from among the varieties on offer at this brewery is the Spezial Rauchbier Lager: an amber beer with a creamy head. Somewhat cloudy in appearance, it is smooth on the palate and highly flavoursome.

Open every day of the week from 09:00 to 23:00, except on Saturdays, when it closes at 14:00. Further information at: www.brauerei-spezial.de (in German)

Franconian Brewery Museum

Having visited the nine traditional breweries that still operate in Bamberg, a good idea to conclude the tour is to visit this museum dedicated to the brewery tradition in the Franconia region. Open from 13:00 to 17:00 (April to October). Tickets cost € 3.00 (adults), € 2.50 (reduced rate) and € 6.50 (family rate).

Useful information

When looking for accommodation, and besides the options already mentioned previously at some of the breweries that also offer guest rooms, we recommend the Hotel Nepomuk very close to the centre (next to Klosterbräu where we began the tour). Its modern decoration, good service or the fact that each guest room comes with an iMac will certainly impress any visitor. Further information here.

When deciding how to get around the city, we recommend buying a BAMBERGcard, which, at a price of € 12, will give you access to the entire public transport network in the city and some of its museums. These cards can be purchased at the Bamberg Tourist Office (5 Geyerswörthstraße) or via the city’s website.

By Oriol Salvador from scannerFM

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