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Guten Tag fellow ALEiens!

I've been finding myself working in Cologne, Germany these past couple of days, after vacationing with the family in Northern Norway since July 5th.

Tomorrow, Saturday, I'm setting off on a little adventure in the little town of Bamberg, Germany. My mission is to experience as much as possible of the local history (a town shaped by its over 2000-year Roman-Germany heritage), architecture (it was not bombed during WWII), and of course their beer tradition.

Bamberg is the birthplace of Rauchbier ("Smoke Beer"), and the lore I've learned is that it all happened by accident - literally. The buildings which housed the grain supplies of this already proud brewing town (more than 30 breweries for less than 20,000 people around 1400 or so), burned down - but left the grains! Not to be defeated by fate (and motivated by thirst), they decided to use the harvest after all, and thus discovered that smoked grains could actually make good beer. Very good beer.

Having been told that you need a couple of Rauchbiers down your throat to get used to them, I am hoping to discover or verify the real story, as I follow this route around town:


In plain text, the places I will try to hit are as follows:
* Hotel und Brauereigasthof Kaiserdom (Where I'm staying): Gaustadter Hauptstraße 26, 96049 Bamberg
* Cafe Abseits: Pödeldorfer Str. 39, Bamberg, 96052
* Mahr's Bräu (top rated on Beeradvocate.com): Wunderburg 10, 96050 Bamberg
* Schlenkerla (the original Rauchbier place since 1405!): Dominikanerstrasse 6, 96049 Bamberg
* Klosterbräu Bamberg: Obere Mühlbrücke 1-3, 96049 Bamberg
* Stöhrenkeller: Oberer Stephansberg 11, Bamberg, 96049
* Mahrs Bräu Keller ("optional"): Oberer Stephansberg 36, Bamberg, 96049
* Spezial Keller (if there's still life left in me): Oberer Stephansberg 47, Bamberg, 96049


As the town appears to be adequately equipped with T-Mobile hotspots, my goal is to give a running account of the "Die Bamberg Bier Tour 2009", hopefully with a picture or two.


If you want to try Rauchbier, you can get the authentic stuff one of the supermarket booze stores in Princeton (the name escapes me, but it's on US1)


Eivind

Views: 425


MEMBER
Comment by Jeff Louella on July 24, 2009 at 3:59pm
Keep us informed.

MEMBER
Comment by Eivind Sandstrand on July 25, 2009 at 5:17am
Departure time. It should take me about 3.5 hours to reach Bamberg from Cologne.

Most of the drive will be on the Autobahn, which is an interesting experience... You're cruising along at 100mph, and then you suddenly have to get out of the way of someone who's doing 125..!

Speeding tickets are harsh for foreigners for violations in construction zones - up to $2,500! - so I will be paying a bit better attention to what I'm doing than the last time I did low-altitude flying in an Audi A3...

Comment by johnny b on July 25, 2009 at 7:19am
A historic city with many small winding streets, alleys, and a wall surrounding the city.
I visited with my wife back in '98, and we were fortunate to visit Schlenkerla.
During our visit to Bamberg, she looked at me in a strange way as I translated German to English when I told her they use "beech wood" ingredients in the smoking process.
No honey I said, it's not like A-B's way of brewing Bud.
She smiled in approval and said let's go try a Rauchbier.
Comment by Sam Scott on July 25, 2009 at 1:59pm
Can't wait to see some pictures!

MEMBER
Comment by Eivind Sandstrand on July 25, 2009 at 4:54pm
Unfortunately, I couldn't get an internet connection to follow me, so I tried to keep notes as I went along.


11:30am: Departure from Cologne. Getting a late start, but figured it better to gather strength before going rather than giving up early...

3:30pm: Arrived in Bamberg and took a quick drive around town. It is a mixture of both modern business and architecture, but with an incredible downtown area dominated by well-maintained buildings dating back centuries. While driving, I recognized some of the places I'd looked up online earlier, and decided to alter my itinerary a little. I'm going to start a little closer to the town center to make sure I can at least cover the few square miles that has so, so many places to see.

4pm: Kaiserdom Schwartzbier. Heavy malt aroma with a foamy, rich head that stayed with me to the end. The beer had a relatively light, roasted malt flavor with a bit of caramel, and it was suprisingly bitter. Since it was served in a ceramic stein, it was hard to see the color/clarity, but it seemed dark brown, nearly black. Enjoyed in the biergarten of the Hotel Kaiserdom - hopefully they'll be open when my evening draws to a close.




4:30pm: Taxi from hotel (about 1.5 miles outside of Bamberg) underway to the first stop. In the taxi I got talking with the driver, Chris, who also is a budding home brewer. He told me he has bought a few books and is ready to get started. Chris gave me some good recommendations for where to swing by, so I may be adjusting my route once again. Naturally, I told Chris about www.aleiens.com and invited him to join the club and come over for a meeting. Home brewing is a universal passion along with the love for good beer! Turns out Bamberg is also the site of Weyermann(sp?) grains, and they're having a 30th anniversary private party tonight, but he didn't think I'd be able to get in.


5:00pm: Mahrs Brau Ungespunnet Hefetrub. A light, unfiltered ale/lager(?) which reminds me a lot of a Kolsch, but has a more distinct flavor and bitterness. There are hop plants in the outdoor biergarten, and a small crowd of people are chatting and enjoying the shifting weather.


5:30pm: Mahrs E.T.A. Hoffmann. A dark lager with a slightly sweeter flavor. More neutral in profile than the previous one, but definitely something that one could enjoy a few of. The wait staff is very friendly, and the young lady taking care of my table even has an American accent.



6:25pm: Sternla Dark Lager. Zum Sterla is an Inn that has existed since 1380, apparently making it the oldest "Wirtshaus" in Bamberg. The dark lager is malty, seems to be cask conditioned since it's very low on bubbles and head, and is a heavier lager than the earlier entries. The service in these places in absolutely impeccable, with the usual apologies for their perceived lack of English skills - which is not the case. Most Germans speak English very well!



6:55pm: Spezial Raucbier. The Keesman as well as the Spezial breweries were closed (opening hours from 11 - 1:45pm on Saturdays!) when I walked past them, but the Sternla Wirtshaus has a lighter version on tap. Served at room temperature, it is a mildly smoked, incredibly delicious, beer. It is smooth and soft from the nose to the throat, and leaves a short-lasting sense of smoked grains behind. A very enjoyable hour spent here, but now it's time to walk through the town and find the "other side of the river"




8:00pm: Finally arrived at the "Schlenkerla", which takes its name from something like "Staggering" - no kidding. This is the birthplace of Rauchbier, and the biggest source of export of the same out of Bamberg. A bit "touristy", no doubt, but located in the Altstadt (Old City), it has an architecture and atmosphere hard to beat even in England's old pubs. The bier - an Marzen. Incredible. Simply delicious with a beatutiful dark brown/amber color, a pugnant smokey nose, and a flavor that supposedly only gets better after a couple. Next, going for some food, if I can only get the attention of the server...


9:35pm: Finally ordered food, the house speciality 'Bratwurst', still waiting for the next beer... A family from Bayern joined me at my table and we had a nice conversation over dinner. The next beer, a RauchWeiss was probably one of the best beers I've ever had. The smoothness of a weissbier, combined with a mild smokiness, and just a fresh taste as if it had been brewed and tapped only hours ago.



9:45pm: With the help of some strangers who speak not a single word of English, I am working my way up to Klosterbräu. This will likely be my last stop of the evening, but I hope I can post these notes and a few pix to go along with them.



10:15pm: Arrived at Klosterbräu and having a Klosterbräu Bamberger Schwärzla. What can I say - it's dark, it's malty, it's good, and it is - at the tail end of a long evening - just another example of German brewing excellence!




As I side not, not a single one of the places I visited offered mass produced stuff like Bud/Stella/Carlsberg. Their beer menus were short and sweet, even if their serving staff couldn't answer questions about the process. Most Wirtshauses and Gasthofs had beers from competing breweries, which tells me that the businesses in this town work together to survive. All places I saw were in old bulidings, incredibly serene, clean, and with very friendly staff and guests.



This place is a small slice of heaven, no doubt!

MEMBER
Comment by Eivind Sandstrand on July 25, 2009 at 4:58pm
Some more pix, all taken with my really crappy cell phone camera:









That's it for the beer tour tonight. Tomorrow I go looking for old buildings, a brewing museum, and then a 4 hour drive back to Cologne. Back home on Wednesday, and that prospect is looking pretty good, all present pleasures notwithstanding :)
Comment by johnny b on July 26, 2009 at 8:44am
Thanks for the great images!
Looking foward to your Sunday photos.

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