Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A Non Quiet Day in Bamberg; 5 Breweries.

I didn't mean to make this a marathon day, it just ended up that way.

Started off with lunch and a couple of beer at Spezial.

Lunch was Goulash. Very tasty.

Then across the street to Fässla for an after lunch beer.

I was hoping Keesmann might still have their Josephi Bock still on but it was only in bottles, so I had the other famous Bamberg Pils, the Herren Pils. A tough choice -- usually I like the Fässla better but today the nod went to Keesmann.

I love the stylized barley in the light fixtures.

Keesmann had their new(-ish) Weizen on draft, so I had one. They, like Mahrs (and Ambräusianum) actually brew their wheat beers while the other Bamberg breweries have the contract brewed and or fermented.

By then Mahrs was open (they open at 4pm on Monday) so I went across the street for "a U"

Then I noticed the sign on the wall -- both the Festtags Weisse and the Weisse Bock. Danger ahead.

Went with the Festtags Weisse first.  This and Schneider Weisse compete for my favorite regular strength wheat beer.

Then Der Weisse Bock. It probably was my taste buds but it wasn't as complex as former years. But I usually haven't had two wheat beers before it either.

I needed some food, so I ordered the excellent Biertreber Schnitzel. Yummy as always.

There was at least one more Weisse Bock though there could have been two. I think it was only one though.

One the way home I passed Schlenkerla, It would have been rude not to stop in for a beer, so I did.

Monday, April 20, 2015

A Quiet Day in Bamberg.

Ok, I definitely overdid it Saturday, for which I paid the price on Sunday. Good thing I didn't stay for that extra Mönchsambacher.

I am working on an iPhone version of my "Beer Drinker's Guide to Bamberg" booklet and I needed some pictures for it. So I went on a bike ride around town to take some pictures. Mahrs Bräu would have been my eventual destination but they now close at 3pm on Sunday (until 4pm Monday). I can see the need for a "rest day" but why not just close Monday? With Keesmann also closed Sunday that means the poor residents of Wunderburg have brewery to visit Sunday afternoon/evening. A crisis, I say.

So I was going to head to Fässla Keller -- it was a sunny day and I wanted to sit outside. Well, when I got there I discovered I had left my wallet it my room. Oops. So I rode back home. I didn't really want to ride all the way back across town and remembered that Zapfhahn opens early on Sunday, so I went there for a beer and a burger.

I started off with a Hell from Sonne (Bischberg). As always, a very nice beer.

I ordered a "Mango-Chedder Burger" to go with it. It also was good but they must spice the hamburger differently or something. I enjoyed it and would have it again but that "difference" sort of bugged me a bit.

Their "guest" beer was a "Bayreuther Bock"  -- so I had one, The famous brewery in Bayreuth is Maisel but they brew wheat beers so I guess it is from the other brewery, Becher. The waitress didn't know the brewery, only that it was from Bayreuth. It was good but a little on the sweet side for sitting in the sun.

After that I needed a nap.

When I finally felt like venturing out again, I walked down to Schlenkerla for a light dinner and a couple of beers.

Second Day in Bamberg.

The first order of business Saturday was to see about renting a bicycle. I headed over to Fahrradhaus Griesmann on Obere Königstrasse and was soon outfitted with a "trekking" bike. It has big, fat, squishy tires and weighs a ton, but I will only be using it around town (and maybe a ride to Merkendorf) so it will do. The fat squish tires do make the cobblestone streets a little less rattling.

Then it was time for lunch and Spezial is right there.


One of the daily specials was herring in a sour creme and bärlauch sauce. I had to google bärlauch -- it is "bear garlic" or "wild garlic." In any case, it made a nice sauce.

Then back to the rooms for a short nap. Later that afternoon my landlord -- Frank -- asked if I wanted to go with him go Greifenklau. He said they had a bock beer a few weeks ago that was very good and he wanted to try it again. So we hiked up the hill.

I started with the Lagerbier and it was in its usual good form. Many years ago they were having some constancy issues which made it a bit of risk -- walk up the hill and end up with a marginal beer. Luckily, those days seem to be past and the quality has been excellent the past few years.

Suitably refreshed and rehydrated it was time for the "Braunerbock"

It was a decent beer, nice and malty, but Frank was disappointed -- he said the one he had before was much hoppier. So we switched back to the Lagerbier, which came in a krug ("stein") this time.

Frank had an appointment elsewhere, so I decided so long as I had climbed the hill, I might as well take advantage of the elevation. So I headed over to Stephansberg and Stöhrenkeller. Along the way were some pretty trees in bloom. I assume it is some sort of fruit tree -- I'll leave that to the experts.

When I got to Stöhrenkeller it was packed -- being Saturday it was Thai food night. I found a place at the (tiny) bar and ordered a Vollbier from Brauerei Witzgall (Schlammersdorf). This is a tiny brewery near Forchheim and it is rare to find outside of the brewery. So I had a couple.

I headed back towards town and my room. I had to pass Schlenkerla and had thought about stopping for a nightcap but it was packed and I didn't want to stand in the street and drink, so I kept going.

Soon I came to Roten Schild and decided to check out what they had going. The normally only have bottled beers but Friday and Saturday they often have a barrel of something good. Tonight it was Metzgerbräu from Uetzing. This is a fairly new brewery that was started by a butcher ("Metzger").

Soon after I got my beer they brought out a fresh keg, so I knew that a second beer was in my future. It would have been rude not to have.

This is not a traditional gasthaus or even really a beer place. The bartender was busy making all sorts of fancy cocktails and they were doing a land office business with Tucher Cola-Weizen.

This is, I think, a waste of Cola.

Then came my downfall. A second barrel was brought out, this time of Mönchsambacher Lager. This is one of my favorites and from a gravity barrel it is delightful. So of course I had one.

They went thru the 20L barrel in about 45 minutes, just as I finished mine, so of course I had to have one from the fresh barrel. I would have been rude....

It was tempting to stay for a 3rd or 4th but sanity reigned and I headed for home. I had had a "Kinderschnitzel" at Greifenklau but that was a while ago, so I had some street food -- a pork sandwich, Bamberg style. The roll was certainly better than those in Düsseldorf (Bamberg is famous for it's bakeries as well as breweries) and the pork was just as good.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Arrived In Bamberg

I am staying at Frank Wetzel's Ferienwohnung ("Holiday Apartment") which is close to Schlenkerla, so of course that was the first stop.

The sun was out so the garden was open (though it was a bit chilly). After a while Matthias Trum happened by and we talked a bit. I said I was sorry I missed the Fastenbier this year and he said they bottled it for the first time and there were still a few left.

Things you learn when you travel -- I never new that Purple was the color of Lent (at least in Franconia).

After a few beers the sun went behind the buildings and it go quite chilly, so we moved inside to the Schwemm for another couple of beers.

I needed to grocery shopping so, reluctantly, I had to leave. A local friend, Christoph -- whom I met thru the Franconian Brewery Museum, decided to walk with me. Christoph is a home brewer -- which for someone living in Bamberg means they are quite dedicated!

On they way back to the apartment to drop off the groceries. Christoph insisted I try the Hemp beer brewed by Klosterbräu Weisenhohe. I tried to beg off but Christoph was insistent so we stopped in at the store that sells hemp products (clothes, makeup, etc.).

I don't think I'll be bringing one of these bottles home, even though it is really no different than the various hemp beers in the states. The taste was OK, but I don't feel the need to have another anytime soon.

We headed for the Zapfhahn where I hoped to get some food but all the tables were reserved and they don't serve food in the Schwemme or on the patio, so I settled for a beer.

I went with the Hölzlein Vollbier from Lohndorf. It was very good as usual.

Christoph wanted to go on the Der Pelikan but I managed to persuade him that I was jet lagged.

I still hadn't had anything to eat, so I walked back up Sandstrasse and got a couple of bratwurst on a roll with sauerkraut. I great finish to the day.

Tomorrow I am going to try and rent a bicycle (as I didn't bring mine). And probably drink some beer.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

First Beer of a New Beer Trip...

I had a really interesting around the world trip planned for March: Los Angeles -> Budapest -> Tokyo -> Los Angeles. It was a mistake fare that was around last May -- total airfare was $390 (to Tokyo, I was using miles to get home).

Well, about 2 days before I was to leave I came down with a nasty virus. So I ended up canceling the trip. If I had paid $1500 I would probably have tried it -- and been miserable as I was out of it for over a week. But $400 was worth not being miserable. And I may get it back -- I was supposed to fly thru JFK and that day one of the snowstorms hit. Refund has been "processing" for a month now.

So my consolation prize was a trip to Bamberg. As I write this I am 37,000 ft over Iowa, again transiting JFK. The good news is Delta serves Ballast Point Sculpin IPA (which has become my goto "local-isn" beer).

Unfortunately it is only on the LAX-JFK (and SFO-JFK) runs. On the flight to Frankfurt my "premium beer" will be Heineken.