Schlenkerla is the original Bamberg smoked beer:
Bamberg is a stop for many Danube river cruises and everyday, groups of passengers from the cruise ships are taken on a walking tour of the town. One of the attractions that is shown to visitors is the Schlenkerla brewery tavern at Dominikanerstrasse 6. This was how we came to know of this historic brewery on our first river cruise in 2005. Schlenkerla is of course famous for its Original Schlenkerla Smoked Beer or Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier in German. Today, even more visitors, local and overseas, stop by the brewery tavern everyday.
A Hive of Activity
We’ve made two river cruise stops at Bamberg and on both occasions we visited Schlenkerla during the day time. The tavern wasn’t too busy at that time and we were able to walk around the inside to see the various sections. The tavern consists of several dining rooms, each with its own character and history. You can buy your rauchbier easily from the little window in the corridor, no queuing required.
Recent Bamberg visit
Since our last visit in 2013, we noticed that things have changed a little. Firstly, the facade of Schlenkerla has been given a fresh paint job.
Secondly, the tavern is extremely busy – as we were staying in Bamberg for a few nights we were able to see what the pub was like in the evenings. We went in one Friday night and couldn’t find a table for dinner. The whole place was packed out. Outside, there were many more people – they were mostly a younger crowd having their drinks.
Saturday night was just as busy so we didn’t bother trying to get in and went to the Poseidon Restaurant instead. Fortunately, we found very nice food there.
By the way, if you’re desperate to have a drink at the Schlenkerla, you can start drinking there at 9:30 am and they stay busy till late in the evening.
How Schlenkerla got its name
An interesting story about the Schlenkerla is how this brewery tavern got its name. When you visit Schlenkerla, take a look at the colourful signage at the front. One of the images is that of a man with arms dangling down. On top of that rests a blue lion. The image of the man is supposed to represent the owner of the “Blue Lion”, an early predecessor to the Schlenkerla.
As the story goes, the Blue Lion’s owner had an accident which left him handicapped and caused his arms to dangle. He walked with a curious gait, which quickly earned him the nickname “Schlenkerla”. “Schlenkern” is an old German expression for someone who walks in a crooked, unbalanced manner. (The ‘la’ suffix is very typical of the Franconian dialect.) Over time, the residents of Bamberg came to call the tavern “Schlenkerla.”
Schlenkerla Brewery Tavern