You must have heard of Bamberg. "Wahre Hauptstadt des Bieres" as it's deservedly called. We arrived their with a mixture of excitement and relief. Just one more day to go then our livers could relax. Mine needed a fortnight in the Caribbean. At least.
How many of the breweries would we manage? All ten? (Is that even the right number? Isn't eleven now? Or twelve?) One - Kaiserdom - could be crossed off the list immediately: big, uninteresting and out of the way. That left just Mahrs, Keesman, Spezial, Maisel, Fässla, Klosterbräu, Schlenkerla, Greifenklau, Ambräusianum and the two secret ones - Weyermann and Wilde Rose. I make that eleven.
Tel: 0951 - 932 200
Fax 0951 - 9322 0970
We started at one of the secret breweries. Weyermann is a specialist maltster that supplies breweries in Franconia and far beyond. They're renowned for their Rauchmalz and Sinamar, a Farbbier, that is a colouring agent that conforms to the Reinheitsgebot. They've been making it for quite a while, as this advert from 1911 demonstrates. There were containers of it, varying in format from quart milk bottles to aircraft luggage containers, piled all over the yard.
The buildings are in the robust red-brick style popular in the late 19th century. Quite reminiscent of the old Maisel brewery in Bayreuth. They seem pretty laidback about visitors and let us wander around the site taking the obligatory photos. (I took hundreds on the trip. My computer barely had room for them all.)
I'd been longing to visit since the late John White told be about their brewery and the beers they brew. Finally I was able to get hold of some. By the entrance is a small shop, selling a whole range of Weyermann memorabilia, from T-shirts to samples of malt. Only the beer interested me.
The small pilot brewery is used to demonstrate to potential customers the versatility of their malts. That means that they brew not just German styles but British ones, too. The day we were there, the following beers were on sale: Kölsch, Dark Ale, IPA and the one regular, Stofferla, a Rauchbier. I bought two bottles of each. So far I've only tried the Dark Ale. Rather bitter for a beer of its type, it reminded me more of a Franconian Dunkles than any Ale I've drunk.
Tel. 0951 - 91517-19
Fax 0951 - 91517-30
Mahrs brewery tap has always been a favourite of mine. The cosy, oddly-shaped rooms with their worn wooden boards and ancient panelling are a delight. A green-tiled stove dominates the room. And of course there's a barrel (sadly no longer wooden) sitting on the bar, full of lovely unfiltered beer. I was eagerly anticipating the first pint of the day. Drooling almost. Mmmmm . . . beer.
Being a sunny day (one of the few while we were in Franconia) while the beergarden was quite full, inside was deserted. All the more room for us, then. I've spent my whole life avoiding the sun. I'm not going to change now, even
In the Ungespundet I can detect vanilla, butter, caramel and pepper."Quite subtle, but with a pleasantly bitter finish" my notes say. Refreshing and a great start to the day is another way of putting it. I would have loved to linger langourously lapping up more. But there were many, many more breweries to visit that day. I'd have to make do with just the one.
Tel. 0951 - 26646
Fax: 0951 - 28486
Keesmann is very much as I remember it: bland in comparison to Mahr's. It's still early-70's pine overload in the bar. I noticed quite a few blokes having their morning pint, which is a good sign (link the 1917 article). Rather like Hebendanz, but without the entertaining craziness. So I'm not too upset when we decide to sit in the beergarden at the rear.
Beergarden is a light exaggeration: there are no plants. It's effectively in the brewery yard, hemmed in by buildings on each side. The bottling line is only a few metres from the tables. Very atmospheric.
On draught, they've got Lagerbier, Pils and Weizen. As there's no Dunkles, I opted for Keesmann Sternla Lager. "A pleasant, easy-drinking, sweetish lager."
Pepper, resin, butter and vanilla flavours were in there somewhere. Being honest, I enjoyed it much more than I expected. Maybe because it was only beer number two and I hadn't yet quenched my morning thirst. Another unfiltered pale lager, it's quite similar to the Mahrs.
Tel. 0951 - 14975
Despite being closed, I was glad that we dropped by Maisel. My pub guide to Bamberg has a picture of their brewery tap that's so gloomy you can only just about discern the building. I've wanted to replace iot for years. Now I finally can. But what about Maisel's beer? Didn't I miss that? As a matter of fact, no. My very next beer (after checking in to our hotel) was Maisel's Dunkel. But you'll have to wait until tomorrow to hear about that.
You can find more photos of the tour here, courtesy of Andy. The ones above of the interior of Mahr's and the exterior of Keesmann are his.
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