Beer Warriors in Bamberg

More accurately, a small party of the Newark branch of CAMRA ventured forth in October to one of the most beautiful cities in Germany. An early start (03.00) allowed us to reach Stansted and check in with Air Berlin (highly recommended) and still have time for either a final pint of British beer or coffee in the airport Wetherspoons.

I had been to Bamberg six times before, my wife twice, the other six in the group never, and in fact it was also the first time in Germany for the latter as well. It was no surprise to find that Nurnberg airport was connected to the city by a fast, frequent, and cheap rail connection. The rail fare from the city to Bamberg was about half the equivalent fare in the UK and because we were travelling in a group we obtained a fifty percent reduction on this.

It was a pleasant surprise to find the seasonal Bockbier on sale at the Inn where the majority of the party were staying and this was a good introduction to the Bamberg beers. The brewery was Maisel.

After the remainder had checked in to their hotel we visited the newest of the ten breweries in Bamberg the Ambrusianum and sampled their Helles beer. My notes recorded it as pleasant, slightly fruity but lacking in hops. We then trudged up the hill to the Greifenklau, the tap of the Brauerei Greifenklau.

A couple of glasses of their Lagerbier, dark gold in colour and rather tasty, fortified us for the walk back down the hill to the Klosterbru brewery tap where we were told their Bockbier would be on sale the following evening.

The next place was Zum Spezial on Obere Konigstrasse where both the Rauch (not very smoky) and Helles were quaffed. Some of us then retired for the night, others paid a late night visit to the Fssla across the street to try their Bockbier.

Friday morning started with a Rauchbier at 10.00 in the famous tap of the Brauerei Heller. The choice here is not huge, it is either a half litre of their Rauchbier or a half litre of their Rauchbier although, since my last visit, lemonade is now available.

This is a great pub, but because it is so famous, for much of the year it is full of tourists (which obviously we werent). The beer is very smoky indeed and you either love it or loathe it. I am firmly in the former camp.

Strengthened by the black nectar we had no problems in walking along the canal to the Keesman and then across the road to the Mahrs Brau. A variety of beers were tried before we walked back to the Fssla to sample the Bockbier, and great stuff it was. Even though it was 7.5% it was dangerously drinkable.

Nicely fortified once again, we then returned to the Schlenkerla to see what their Urbock was like. Rather like their normal smoked beer, only 6.5% instead of 5.2%. We seemed to have the taste for Bockbier by now so the obvious thing to do was to hurry along to the Klosterbru before the crowds poured in to celebrate the tapping of their Bockbier.

It was very good and thus the obvious and sensible thing to do was to have a couple before departing to the Ambrusianum for a meal and a beer. The day finished for some of us with a last beer and some Strudel at the Alt-Ringlen across the street.

Saturday morning saw us assembling at the railway station for a visit to the small town of Forcheim, some 20 minutes away, where there are four breweries.

In order we visited the Brauerei Nedas, Josef Greif, Fritz Hebendanz, and Eichorn. All very different and very pleasant Beer in Bamberg is cheap, being about 2.10 Euros a half litre (the Bockbier is a little more expensive) but prices in Forchheim were between 1.70 and 2.00. The town itself is picturesque and well worth a visit.

Places visited in Bamberg later on included the Sternla, the oldest pub in the city, dating back to 1380.

Beers in BambergThe last day was spent in Nurnberg where most visited the site of the famous post-war trials, whilst my wife and I did some research for the benefit of the group, ie tracked down two home brew places Hausbrauerei Altstadthof and Barfsser Brauhaus. After beer and food in both places it was sadly time to go to the airport for the flight home.

There were several highlights of the visit. The first must be the laudable attempt by one of us to conquer the German language. However, saying Danke Schwein to the waitress is not quite the same as Danke Schne and the attempt was quickly forsaken.

Another was two late night revellers getting lost at two in the morning and unable to find their hotel, even though it is one of the easiest to find in the whole of Bamberg. The bizarre and surreal conversation with the German lady who eventually gave them directions is very amusing when spoken but unfortunately doesn’t really translate to the written word.

The third was the heated conversation between a customer on the pavement and the landlord of the Tambosi, by the bus station, who was leaning out of the third floor window. My German was just good enough to get the gist of it.

The customer was incensed to find that it was still closed at the normal opening time of 09.00 but the landlord was not budging. I think his response was basically, clear off, its my pub and I will open when I want to. Perhaps it was for the best as some of us had agreed to have a nine o’clock beer before getting the train to Forchheim.

Finally, the question posed by one of the group “surely there must be more to Bamberg than the beer?” was answered with a resounding yes!

Beer Warrior in Bamberg was Kiwi

October ’07