Franconia is beer country and Bamberg is considered the beer capital – is that really true? I set off for Bamberg to discover Bamberg beer, the breweries, the cellars and the city’s beer scene.
After three days with lots of beer, good and hearty food and nice conversations, I conclude – the breweries and Bamberg beer are definitely worth a visit!
A great way to get an overview of Bamberg beer is the BierSchmecker Tour.
BierSchmecker Tour in Bamberg
Bamberg Tourismus & Kongress Service and some breweries have joined forces to create a tour that will make beer lovers’ hearts beat faster.
For €22.50, you get a flyer with all the information about the eight participating breweries. Included are 4 vouchers for a Seidla (0.5l) beer each, which you can redeem in the participating breweries.
In exchange for a voucher, you can get the Bamberg smoked beer truffle at the Café am Dom and a beer mug and bottle opener at the Tourist Information.
Equipped like this, the tour can begin. Very nice, you don’t “have” to drink all the vouchers in one day, so you can stop off at the breweries as you walk around the city.
I would like to introduce the participating breweries here and will of course report on my beer experiences on site.
My first contact with the beer scene in Bamberg was to take place at Mahrs. Here we had an appointment with the brewer Stephan Michel, who wanted to give us a little insight into the work of the traditional brewery that has existed since 1670.
But before we got down to the theory, we ordered Mahr’s “a U”. I admit, as a non-Franconian person, I didn’t really understand what I was ordering at first. Was that really supposed to be the name of the beer? I was told that “a U” is the shortest beer name in the world.
What I got was an unrounded, unfiltered beer (5.2% alcohol) with a yeasty cloudiness and a round, malty taste. Unsparkling beer is mainly found in Franconia. The so-called bunghole is located on the top of a beer barrel. It serves to equalise the pressure during fermentation so that the resulting carbon dioxide can escape. If the wooden spigot does not close the hole, the result is a beer with a low carbon dioxide content – unbundled beer.
After the really good beer had run down our throats and the hearty meal had been consumed, we were able to talk to Stephan Michel.
We learn that Michel has been managing director of the brewery since 2016 and has changed a lot in the meantime. Of course he is sticking to the traditional beers, they are popular and people like to drink them. His young brewing team brews with passion and likes to experiment, but always within the purity law. For example, they sometimes use a different hop, such as the hops from New Zealand in “Hello Nelson”.
Yes, and then he tells us about the innovations, which for me as a Berliner are rather normal, but for the people of Bamberg are probably more of a break with tradition. Michel has decided to sell beer in cans and 0.25l bottles. This way, he appeals to a different group of buyers and the success proves him right. Michel also tries to appeal to women with his beers. His thesis is that once women have chosen a type of beer, they are the most loyal customers. And I have to agree with him.
Michel also puts forward the thesis that women often buy according to appearance when they don’t know something yet. So the design of the labels and crown corks was made more modern, more interesting. A move that has paid off so far.
If you are looking for the beer of the Mahrs brewery in the supermarket chains, you will not find it. Only selected shops offer the beer. Or you can go directly to Mahrs Bräu and enjoy the freshly tapped beer, as we did.
Monday: 16-23 h
Tuesday – Saturday: 10-14 h
Sunday: 10-15 h
Almost opposite the Mahrs is the Kessmann Bräu. We did not stop here. The brewery has been family-owned since 1867 and the “Bamberger Herren Pils”, a bottom-fermented mild full-bodied beer, has become the trademark of the house.
Monday – Friday: 10-14 h
Saturday: 9.30-15 h
Bamberger Beer at Ambräusianum
Unlike the other breweries you can experience on the BierSchmecker Tour in Bamberg, the Ambräusianum is a very young brewery. Beer has only been served here since 2004.
The brew kettles are located in the middle of the pub, so you sit at the source of the beer, so to speak. I only took a quick look into the guest room. It was dominated by light-coloured wood, and seemed very friendly and modern compared to many other breweries. We sat at beer tables in front of the brewery. It was the ideal place to enjoy the flair of the city, to watch people and to take a breath after a long stroll through the city.
We were there in the evening and were able to order an “Ambräusianum Hell” shortly before closing time. The beer has a slight yeast cloudiness with an alcohol content of 5.4%.
I found it very drinkable and light – it was the ideal beer to end a day in Bamberg.
Tuesday: 17-23 h
Wednesday-Saturday: 11-23 h
Sunday: 11-21 h
Attention! Opening hours may vary in winter!
If you’re in Bamberg and haven’t been to the Schlenkerla, you’ve missed out – that’s definitely how I see it!
Below the cathedral, in the old town, lies the Schlenkerla Rauchbierbrauerei. The house has been family-run for 6 generations and can look back on a long tradition of brewing beer.
If you stop in here, you simply cannot miss drinking an “Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier”.
It is known that the Sumerians and Babylonians were already engaged in the art of brewing beer. By and large, the brewing process from back then has been preserved until today – except that today there is far more technology and aids to help brew beer. Today, as then, the green malt has to be dried. If the green malt is dried over an open fire, the resulting smoke can affect the taste of the malt. It acquires a smoky flavour, which then influences the taste of the beer when it is brewed. Meanwhile, the green malt can also be dried in the kiln without an open fire. This produces malt that does not have a smoky taste.
For Schlenkerla Rauchbier, however, the malt is still produced in the traditional way in order to be able to retain the typical taste. For this purpose, the green malt is spread on a close-meshed net in the kiln of the in-house malt house and dried with the help of fire. Beechwood logs that have been stored for 3 years are used. The freshly brewed beer matures in a rock cellar under the Stephansberg and naturally tastes best when freshly tapped.
There are only two smoked beers left in the world that are made in this traditional way – the Schlenkerla and the Spezial – both of which come from Bamberg.
During my visit to Bamberg, the Rauchbier was naturally on my beer list. The Märzenbier has an alcohol content of 5.1% and you should not expect the typical beer taste at the first sip. I found that the beer tasted tart, smoky and malty. It is said that most visitors like the second Seidla (0.5 l) better than the first sip. I really liked the beer from the start, precisely because it has a smoky flavour.
daily: 9.30 – 23.30 h
Not far from Bamberg’s main railway station is the Fässla brewery. They have been brewing here since 1649 and I decided to drink the “real Bamberg Zwergla”.
The little dwarf rolling his barrel is the brewery’s logo. I really like the fact that the dwarf is everywhere. Not only on the glasses, but also on the backs of the chairs, for example.
The guest room is like you would find in many breweries – dark rustic furniture, traditional and quaint.
The Zwergla is a dark beer, slightly mahogany-coloured. It stands in front of me on the table with a beautiful bubble. The beer tastes soft and only slightly malty, the 6.0% alcohol is not noticeable.
Obere Königstraße 19-21
Monday – Saturday from 8:30 a.m.
Sunday: 8:30 – 12 h
Public holiday: 8:30 – 12 h
You can also redeem one of the beer vouchers at the Spezial. The traditional brewery from 1536 also offers the typical Bamberg Rauchbier. The Spezial Rauchbier Lager is brewed with smoked malt from their own production. I found the smoke flavour to be somewhat more subtle than in the Schlenkerla Rauchbier. Perhaps an easier introduction to the smoked beer scene for smoked beer newbies.
We went to the Spezial Keller and had a cosy end to the evening there. Attention! The voucher is not valid here!
But first a little clarification for all non-Franconians. In Bamberg, you go “on the cellar”. That sounds confusing, because a cellar is downstairs and you tend to go to a cellar. But I have learned something.
In the past, there was no electric refrigeration for the beer. In many towns it was stored in catacombs under the houses. In Bamberg, the rock cellars in the hills in and around Bamberg were created for storage. There, temperatures remained constant and the beer stayed fresh. It was particularly advantageous if trees on the hills also provided coolness. So they tried to preserve the trees or plant new ones.
For the brewers, this created a logistical problem. They had to transport their beers from the cellars to the inns or breweries. At some point, the brewers had the idea that it would be much easier to serve the beer on site. They set up benches and chairs in the cellars, served beer and offered food. It is and was also allowed to bring your own food. This developed into a special beer garden scene that takes place “in the cellar”.
The Spezial Keller is located above the city and offers shady seats and a great view. It’s better to book a table, it’s always quite full.
Obere Königstraße 10
Sunday – Friday: 9-23 h
Saturday: 9-14 h
When we arrived at Klosterbräu, we actually still had a good 30 minutes before the brewery was supposed to close. Unfortunately, the cash register had already been cleared and we were not served any more beer. Too bad, I would have liked to try the slightly darker Bamberger Schwärzla.
Obere Mühlbrücke 1-3
Monday – Friday: 10.30 -23 H
Sunday: 10.30 – 15 h
Attention. October-March is closed on Monday!
The Greifenklau brewery is located on the Kaulberg and we didn’t stop here on our beer tour of Bamberg. The brewery attracts visitors with the oldest cellar in Bamberg and a tart, amber-coloured Greifenklau Lager.
Tuesday – Saturday: 10.30 – 23h
Monday, Sunday: closed
Bamberg beer – newly interpreted
In addition to the traditional breweries, a beer scene is developing in Bamberg that is off the beaten track. We took a look at the Hopfengarten.
Bamberg’s horticulture is part of the UNESCO World Heritage. As early as the Middle Ages, not only vegetables and herbs but also hops were planted in the gardener’s town. About 100 years ago, hops disappeared from the gardens and are now making a comeback at the Emmerling garden centre.
Kris Emmerling grows his own hops. More than 20 different species can be found here. The freshly harvested hops are also processed in a small beer manufactory. Emmerling and his team still bottle the beer by hand.
We were there for one of his events, when everything revolved around beer and gin. Gin is also made in the Hopfengarten itself. But I only stuck to the beer during our visit, because this selection alone is something to behold. It should be noted in advance that I use the term beer here is incorrect. Beer may only be called a beverage brewed according to the Purity Law. Emmerling points out that his drinks are alcoholic malt beverages. So cheers to the alcoholic malt beverage!
The Hopfengarten offers unique drinks that made my heart beat faster.
First, I tried the KOALA. It is a light alcoholic malt drink made from Cascade hops and refined with eucalyptus. When you smell the drink, the fruity smell is already in your nose and it tastes wonderfully fresh and cool. The perfect drink for the summer!
Then I tried the Mint Man. Here, too, Emmerling uses Cascade hops and adds Moroccan mint from its own cultivation. The drink tastes of herbs, lemon and simply wonderfully fresh. Because the alcohol content is only 4.8%, the alcoholic malt beverage is very light and almost similar to a shandy.
Yes, and then I had to try a fruity soft wheat beer-like drink and a sour beer with a dash of syrup that reminded me very much of our Berliner Weiße.
Emmerling is very creative when it comes to the composition of his creations. For example, there is the Himbu, the Brombi, Zitronic, Chillilero, Gurki, Ginger Hit, Koriandro, Kürbis King, Rausch König, Miraculix and Tomaten Joe.
The Tomato Joe is made with tomatoes from our own production. This is another special feature at the Hop Garden. Here you can find greenhouses where you can harvest your own tomatoes. I found the old varieties that you find here particularly interesting, and they are already visually something very special.
I rounded off my visit to the Hopfengarten with a very special ice cream.
Monday – Friday: 8-12 h and 13-18h
Saturday: 8 -12 h
Bamberg beer shopping
If you still haven’t had enough of beer after your visits to the breweries, you should make a stop at the Bierothek.
Here you can buy not only Bamberg beer, but also other selected beers. A paradise for lovers.
I immediately bought the two types of Bamberg beer for Patrick that impressed me the most during my visit to Bamberg.
Untere Königstraße 1
Monday-Friday: 12-20 h
Saturday: 10-20 h
Some visitors to the breweries was part of a blogger trip to Bamberg. I was invited here, thank you very much! In other breweries, I ate and drank at my own expense. the report was written independently of the trip and corresponds exclusively to my impressions and tastes.