Stars and Stripes – Smoked beer and medieval history make Bamberg a memorable destination

The Aecht Schlenkerla rauchbier at Hofbrau on June 21, 2021 in Bamberg, Germany. The city is famous for its rauchbier, or smoked beer. (Emmanuel Johnson / Stars and Stripes)

Germany’s fame as the country of beer has been safely established for hundreds of years. But one city in particular is famous for a very special brew that attracts visitors from all over.

Bamberg, agricultural and tourist center of northern Bavaria, is home to the Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier. Tradition has it that this smoked beer dates back to the Middle Ages, when malt was accidentally smoked before being added to the brewing process.

The smoked malt gives a very distinctive taste, which is best tasted at the historic Schlenkerla brewery in Bamberg. It is located directly under the cathedral, which opens to visitors from 9:30 am. In the brewery tavern, beer is pulled straight from wooden barrels according to an old tradition.

You’ll likely see a decent-sized crowd gathered outside. With the easing of restrictions on coronaviruses, you can also chat with some of the locals or tourists hanging out outside the brewery.

Outside the Schlenkerla Brewery on June 21, 2021 in Bamberg, Germany.  Bamberg is famous for its rauchbier, or smoked beer, with its distinct flavor.
Outside the Schlenkerla Brewery on June 21, 2021 in Bamberg, Germany. Bamberg is famous for its rauchbier, or smoked beer, with its distinct flavor. (Emmanuel Johnson / Stars and Stripes)
The exterior of the Hofbrau Brewery on June 21, 2021, in Bamberg, Germany.  Bamberg is known for its rauchbier, or smoked beer.
The exterior of the Hofbrau Brewery on June 21, 2021, in Bamberg, Germany. Bamberg is known for its rauchbier, or smoked beer. (Emmanuel Johnson / Stars and Stripes)
The Regnitz River flows through Bamberg, Germany, Upper Franconia on June 21, 2021.
The Regnitz River flows through Bamberg, Germany, Upper Franconia on June 21, 2021 (Immanuel Johnson / Stars and Stripes)

But if you’re a beer lover, don’t end your visit to Schlenkerla. Bamberg, which dates back to the 9th century, has plenty of other breweries to explore – at a leisurely pace, of course.

Grab something to eat to soak up the beer and between stroll on the bridges that overlook the Regnitz River. The old town is considered one of the best preserved in Germany and its town hall, perched on a small island in the middle of the river, is a breathtaking sight.

When you’re ready for the next round, the Hofbrau Restaurant has cozy outdoor seating, plus all the traditional German beers, wursts, cutlets and dishes you can imagine.

Bamberg housed a US Army garrison for 69 years, until it closed in 2004. The army first arrived in April 1945, when after a short fight it occupied the city.

It takes just under two hours to get into town by car from the Grafenwoehr and Vilseck training areas. If you drive there and want the best beer experience, there are a number of affordable room options – please don’t drink and drive. A train turns a little longer.

I would also recommend having bottled smoked beer as a souvenir to take home.

[email protected]; Twitter: Manny_Stripes

Downtown Bamberg, Germany in June 2021. Bamberg is famous for its rauchbier, or smoked beer.
Downtown Bamberg, Germany in June 2021. Bamberg is famous for its rauchbier, or smoked beer. (Emmanuel Johnson / Stars and Stripes)

Address: Brasserie Schlenkerla, Dominikanerstrasse 6, 96049. Hofbrau, Karolinenstrasse 7, 96049. Bamberg is approximately 100 km from Grafenwoehr and Vilseck.

Hours: The Schlenkerla brewery is open every day from 9:30 am to 11:30 pm. Hofbrau is open Sunday to Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11:00 p.m. to midnight. Hours may vary on public holidays.

Information: Schlenkerla: online: schlenkerla.de. Telephone: +49 0951 56050. Hofbrau: Online: hofbraeu-bamberg.de, Telephone: +49 0951 53321.


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