WITH NINE BREWERIES PRODUCING FIFTY TYPES OF BEERS, BAMBERG IS INDEED A BEER CITY:
Bamberg is a town that’s famous for its breweries. There are nine breweries in this small town producing some fifty different beers, including its specialty rauchbier, a smoked beer with a characteristic taste. So, when our river boat called at Bamberg, one of the things to do here was to go on a Bamberg beer tour. This tour was very much up Tony’s alley and accompanied by the intrepid trio of Lisa, Steve and Pat, we set off for a Bamberg beer experience.
Bamberg – A Beer City
Stephanie, the local guide in Bamberg, jokes that Bamberg is the town of “pregnant men”. With nine breweries and a town population of only 80,000, it would seem a lot of beer drinking takes place in Bamberg. And judging from the statistics, that would appear to be correct – the per capita consumption of beer in Germany is 107 litres per annum, but in Bamberg the figure is something like 208 litres. That’s nearly four litres a week for every adult. Hmmm.
Bamberg Beer Tour
The Bamberg Beer tour proved an entertaining walk with our local guide, Stephanie, a real character who had a seemingly inexhaustible supply of interesting and useful information about the Bamberg’s breweries and the beers they produce. Along the route, she also pointed out local Bamberg attractions and her commentary was always laced with humour or some local gossip.
Our first stop was at Klosterbräu, the oldest brewery in Bamberg. Klosterbräu is a 480 year-old brewery but once you go past the traditionally decorated bar and restaurant area, the shiny storage tanks and cylinders show that there’s nothing old about the brewery itself. The beers produced at Klosterbräu include the Bock, Bamberger Gold Pils, Schwärzla, Braunbier, Lagerbier, and Braun’s Weisse.
The brewery tour took us through the vaulted cellars and the plant where Klosterbräu’s beer-making process was explained. Green beer (beer before final conditioning) straight from the tank was given out for us to try, and to my surprise, was actually quite palatable.
The visit ended with beer-tasting at the Klosterbräu restaurant. We sampled three beers, which together with the green beer earlier left us all happy, bearing in mind that it was getting on towards lunch and we hadn’t eaten since breakfast. As the sun was out it might have been nicer for the beer-tasting to be held at the riverside Regnitz Biergärtla, but you can’t have everything. As a souvenir of the visit, we were each given a rather heavy Bamberger Gold beer mug to take home – sweet!
From the Klosterbräu, the beer tour took the group towards Bamberg Cathedral and down the steps from the cathedral square to Scheiner’s Weinstuben. Fortunately we hadn’t had too much to drink earlier…
This was the lunch (and beer) stop and the group was glad to be served hefty portions of the traditional Bamberg sausages and beer. I don’t eat meat, but scored with a spectacular and very rich cheese platter made up specially. It was actually so substantial some of the others sampled it! And I’m happy to report that the beer was excellent and plentiful.
After lunch it was a stroll round the corner to the final beer-tasting stop. Yes, you had to have stamina to last the distance on this tour. This time it was off to Schlenkerla Heller-Bräu at Dominikanerstrasse 6 to taste their specialty Bamberg Rauchbier (smoked beer).
Schlenkerla Rauchbier is the most famous of Bamberg’s beers and this pub is always busy with drinkers. The Schlenkerla Rauchbier brewery is actually at Stephansberg, but there’s no pub there. The Schlenkerla Heller-Brau is a traditional and very atmospheric pub and we’ve had rauchbier here on a previous visit to Bamberg.
So what’s a Rauchbier like? To me it tastes, or perhaps smells, like dark beer infused with smoked ham! It certainly is an acquired taste (I have definitely acquired it) and I wondered how Lisa, Steve and Pat would find it. Fortunately they thought it was okay and Pat even managed to wangle a deal and brought some back to the boat.
Those of us who didn’t join the Bamberg Beer Experience (I’m looking at you, Helen) set sail from Bamberg to Hassfurt where they picked up the returning Bamberg Beer Experience group. The happy faces of the returning passengers said it all – the beer tour was a success!
If you’re one of the happy people who was on this Bamberg Beer tour, feel free to comment.