Prioritising what to drink in Bamberg in 2022

How do you decide which pubs and breweries to visit when you’ve only got so much time to play with?

A couple of weeks ago we asked a question on Twitter:

This wasn’t an idle query.

In a few weeks, COVID and other circumstances permitting, we’ll be back in Germany for the first time in four years – and we’ve got a daytrip to Bamberg in the schedule.

These days, given our ever-diminishing drinking capacity, we reckon we can realistically only visit a maximum of three drinking establishments.

(Building in a little room for manoeuvre in case we really need a second pint of anything particularly good, or there are any lethally strong seasonal specials on.)

We have been to Bamberg before but, to our astonishment, apparently not for about 14 years. Our tastes have changed, and Bamberg might well have changed, so we needed some up-to-date advice.

Here’s a log of the responses:

Mahr’s Bräu8

There were also three votes against – two for Schlenkerla, one for Mahr’s. But that doesn’t change the ranking.

We’re quite pleased with that list, based on our own past experience.

We can’t not visit Schlenkerla, given our memories of previous visits, and how much we enjoy the beer from bottles.

We also fondly remember how relatively hoppy Keesmann Herren Lager seemed. Apparently, its still good.

Then again… that trip out to Greifenklau was pretty special last time.

And can we really turn down the chance to drink a Mahr’s Ungespundet, even though people say that particular brewery is off the boil at the moment?

Just to further complicate things, there are also a handful of new breweries that we’ve never been to. Should we maybe prioritise trying something new over attempting to relive past pleasures?

Maybe the only logical conclusion to this tyranny of choice is to not go at all.


News, Nuggets & Longreads 3 September 2016: Blokes and Books

This week, we’ve mostly been enjoying profiles of blokes who brew, blokes talking about themselves, and obituaries of blokes who have died, along with a bit of navel-gazing about beer writing.

For Good Beer Hunting Kyle Kastranec (@Beer_Notes) profiles a reluctant businessman who doesn’t seem to particularly enjoy the success is his brewery is experiencing:

At some point during my time with Henry Nguyen, he looked me dead in the eye and said, “I’m not a person that was meant to own a business.”

He’s right. He’s also anxious, neurotic, and indecisive. He’s attention-averse. He’s not even all that interested in making money.

Painted Mahr's sign on a wall in Bamberg.

Another brewer profile, this time by Will Hawkes (@Will_Hawkes) for All About Beer, highlights a tension between trend and tradition in German brewing which is finding an outlet in the person of Stephan Michel of Mahr’s in Bamberg:

“I am Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde!” he admits, laughing. “I have the traditional thing and then I have the rock and roll thing on the other side.” Mahr’s Bräu, which is imported into the U.S. by Shelton Brothers, is very traditional: the brewery focuses on two beers, the dark amber Ungespundet… and pale Hell (although others are brewed)… But then there are the snappily-designed t-shirts and rockabilly concerts at the brewery, the 250-mL bottles… and the suggestion that he might soon start canning his beers.

beer reviews bottled beer Germany

Magical Mystery Pour #8: Aus Bayern

Magical Mystery Pour logo.We finally found time to sit down and enjoy the final batch of beers suggested to us by Joe Stange, all three of which are from Bavaria, and two of which we’ve had before in one form or another.

We bought them from Beers of Europe and they were all in 500ml bottles:

  • Keesman Herren Pils, Bamberg, 4.8% ABV, £2.09
  • Ayinger Jahrhundertbier, Aying, 5.5%, £2.39
  • Weltenburger Asam Bock, Weltenburg, 6.9%, £2.69

Glass of pale golden beer. Of Herren Pils Joe says:

Repeat visitors to Bamberg typically go through their Rauchbier and Ungespundet phases before they emerge from their pupas as beautiful Herren-swilling butterflies. (And then, weirdly, the phases start over again.) There are times when I drink this and decide it’s my favorite beer in Germany.

We poured it into one of our favourite Pilsner Urquell mugs (Boak’s proudest moment is mangling Polish into Czech to negotiate the purchase in a pub in Prague) where it looked very pretty and very pale. The head, as you can see from the picture above, was very well behaved.

breweries Franconia Germany

Where is the British Bamberg?

The other day, we asked if there was a beer equivalent of Hay-on-Wye and, pondering the responses, we began to wonder if our question was the right one.

Steve Lamond suggested York as a candidate. One of the things we love about York is that, unlike most British towns and cities, it has a bona fide walled Altstadt, within which, crucially, most of its good beer is easy to find on foot, with no need for trams, buses or trains, or worrying walks through industrial estates. So, yes, York could be a British Bamberg, if not a Hay-on-Wye.

Of course, another thing that defines Bamberg is just how dominated the landscape is by brewing: Weyermann’s maltings loom on the skyline and the air is filled with the smell of brewing. We were reminded of this on arriving in St Austell on Thursday, getting off the train to be struck by an almost overpowering smell of stewed hops and sweet wort on the wind. The brewery building sits on a hill overlooking the town taking a place which, in other towns, would be occupied by a Norman castle.

It might only have one brewery, and scarcely any pubs of note, but it is a beer town through and through.

The St Austell visitor centre bar is the best place in Cornwall to get a wide range of their beers in good condition (but still no Black Prince mild). We enjoyed Raspberry Porter, brewed by Roger Ryman on his small experimental kit, and reminiscent of the fruit beers from Saltaire.


Dull beer

We’ve all had one of these from time to time:

Label from a bottle of Dull Bier

As photographed on the wall of a Bamberg pub.