Saturday, May 21, 2011

Bamberg Day Two -- A ride to Strassgiech and Back

Crossposted at

Andreas ("Andy") Gänstaller -- formerly at Beck-Trabelsdorf and Mahrs before that -- has opened his new pub in Strassgiech (Drei Kronen Strassgeiech). The beers are brewed at the form Friedel brewery in Schnaid (Friedel having moved the brewery to the Kreuzberg). The pub is only open Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and doesn't open until 4pm so I needed to kill some time on the way. What to do?

Well, not far out of the way is Cafe Abseits.  I stopped in for a beer or two and a light lunch. I started off with one of my favorites, Mönchambacher Lager

Mönchsambacher Lager
The lunch special was goulash over noodles -- that sounded good.

Goulash at Cafe Abseits
The "beer of the month" was the new Mönchsambacher Weizenbock. I had to try it.

Mönchambacher Weizenbock
I was a little sweeter than I like -- I was told that the wheat malt supplier had substituted some French Wheat Malt in place the for usual Franconian and that led to some fermentation problems. I look forward to trying it next year with Franconian Wheat Malt.

I could easily spend the afternoon the Cafe Abseits garden but there were breweries to visit.

The first village you pass thru is Memmelsdorf, home to two breweries, Höhn and Drei Kronen.  I stopped in at Drei Kronen first (leaving Höhn for the way home, if time)

Drei Kronen, Memmelsdorf
First off, I tried their seasonal beer -- this time a Dinkelweisse (Dinkel is an archaic form a wheat)

Drei Kronen Dinkelweisse
It tasted like a typical German wheat beer with just a bit more spiciness. That could be from the yeast but also from the Dinkel. Very refreshing. 

Next up was one of their standard beers, the Keller-Pils

Drei Kronen Keller Pils
 I think it was a little less hoppy than in the past. Herr Straub told me his daughter (who recently finished her brewing education) was now mostly brewing the regular beers. I hope she didn't cut down on the hops!

On the way to Strassgiech you pass thru Drosendorf (home of Brauerei Göller) but I took a slight detour -- a couple miles up the road (up -- as in uphill) is Merkendorf, also home to two breweries.

First stop was Brauerei Wagnerm which is one of my favorites.

Brauerei Wagner, Merkendorf
They have a number of beers on draft, but I had a kellerbier. Actually, it was so good I had two.

The recently won a silver medal at the European Beer Star competition and were proudly displaying this banner.

I have to leave you with a picture of the mosaic in the entry way. My initials are FW so I have a particular fondness for this...

Down the street from Wagner is the other brewery Hummel.

Brauerei Hummel, Merkendorf
Since I had a bit of a trend going, I started with their kellerbier

Hoppy and refreshing. Just what I needed for the long (200 meter) ride from Brauerei Wagner.

Then things started to go downhill -- I noticed they had a Maibock on draft. I could pass that up, so I had one.

You could spend a while at Hummel -- they had nine beers on draft that day (with probably another nine in the bottles.)

Just stay away from the "Cowboy Schwarzbier" -- it is the only one I've had that I didn't like at all.

The Maibock took me a little longer to drink that I though, so now I was a little late for the 4pm opening. But I soon was there.

As the brewery is just getting started, Andy only had his kellerbier on draft.

But soon after Andy brought out of sample of his Zwickelbier which will be ready soon (Very tasty but a bit young still)

They have a nice garden there, which started to fill up after I took this picture.

Dinner was one of my favorites they brought along from Trabelsdorf, Schnitzel breaded in spent grains with a beer gravy and fried potatoes. Yum

I had lights on my bike but I don't like riding in the dark, so I passed on another beer and headed back to Bamberg.  As I was passing Brauerei Göller in Drosendorf, I realized I had forgotten something very import -- a bit stop.

Since I used their facilities, I felt in only fair to have a beer. So I did.

It was a perfectly nice beer, but not quite up to the standards of Merkendorf or Strassgiech.

I continued on to Bamberg and when passed Schlenkerla the open door beckoned. I could not resist.

It was a much short ride than Tuesday -- only 20 miles round trip -- but the beer consumption was far higher. Eleven beers, including two bocks and not counting the nightcaps (plural) at Schlenkerla. A hard day but lots of fun.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bamberg Day One -- A ride to Herrnsdorf and Back

(Crossposted from

There has been some recent discussion on the Franconia Beer Guide message board about Brauerei Barnikel in Herrnsdorf. I realized I hadn't been there for a while so I thought that would be a good first day ride.

I took off down the Regnitz bike path do Hirschaid, home of Brauerei Kraus. But they are closed on Tuesdays so no beer for me there. I then headed west up Ebrach valley to the village of Röbersdorf, home of Brauerei Weber.

Brauerei Weber, Röbersdorf
 They had three beers on draft, a Hell, Dunkel and Rauchbier. I started with the Helles Lagerbier

Weber Lagerbier
 I had ridden about 10 miles at this point so it tasted pretty good. After the first few sips (ok, gulps) I did notice a slight grainy astringency but it wasn't objectionable at all. I needed some food as well, but since it was 2pm they only had cold food. I ordered the Hausteller ("House platter") which usually is a selection of sliced meats and cheese with bread. This one was all meat.

Lunch -- the "House Platter"
 The brewery tap has been recently (i.e. within the past 30 years) remodeled but they kept the flavor of a tradional gasthaus with lots of wood.

The bar at Weber
 Before I was done with the Hausteller I had run out of beer so I ordered the Rauchbier. There was just a touch of smoke in it -- enough to notice it but not so much to scare you away if one didn't like smoke beer. It was cleaner that the Hell and more drinkable.

Weber Rauchbier
Since I had a ways to go yet, I didn't try the Dunkel -- maybe next trip.

A few miles down the road is Herrnsdorf, home of Brauerei Barnikel. They claim the brewery has been run by the same family since the early 1300's. I think have been a few liberties with the idea of "family" over the years, but it still is quite an impressive run.

Brauerei Barnikel, Herrnsdorf

 They only had their Lagerbier on draft, so I had one.

Barnikel Lagerbier
There was a butterscotch note to the beer (caused by diacetyl, a fermentation byproduct). This is often caused by not lagering (cold conditioning) the beer long enough. It wasn't strong enough to make the beer undrinkable, but I couldn't drink too many of them.  

Since that was the only draft beer and I still had to ride home, I got a bottle of the Rauchbier to go.

Bottle of Barnikel Rauchbier for later
Over the door they have this great sign

I love this sign "Last brewery before the Autobahn"
 So I started back towards Bamberg. When I reached the Regnitz I decide to ride back up the other (west) bank. This took me thru Pettstadt where there is a lovely little bierkeller, Schauder's Keller.

Schrauders Keller, Pettstadt

 They serve Löwenbräu Buttheim kellerbier. Since somebody invariable asks, no they do not have any connection with the more famous Löwenbräu of Munich. There are four or five breweries in Franconia  alone that use the name "Löwenbräu."

 Löwenbräu Buttenheim kellerbier from the barrel
 This is a very rustic and traditional bierkeller.  It sort of gives you a "summer camp" vibe -- only with great beer.

The beer stand
 I had two beers and could have had a couple of more, but it still was a ways back to Bamberg -- and I had felt some sprinkles so I wanted to get back before it started raining.

With this route you ride thru the "Hain" district of Bamberg, which basically is a forest park. Along the  way is the Bootshaus, the "Boat House" for the local rowing club. There also is a nice beer garden that is open during the warmer months. I needed to make a pit stop so I stopped for a beer. There is a lovely view of the Regnitz river.

View from the Bootshaus, Bamberg
 They have beers from Brauerei Kundmüller in Weiher which is just to the west of Bamberg. They had the kellerbier on draft (Kundmüller also does a nice Rauchbier)

They serve Kundmüller Lagerview from Weiher
 While I was drinking my beer, an 8 person scull came buy. It was some sort of training or class because a few of the people were clearly out of sync, but it was fun to watch anyway.
The kind of boats you find at the "Boat House"

As I got back into Bamberg proper I passed very close to Klosterbräu when I realized it was May and their Maibock would be served. In the past this has been one of my favorite beers. Sometime it is so good and drinkable you have three or four and only when you get up do you realize it is nearly 8%

They did have the Maibock. While it was good, it wasn't up to the high expectations I had from previous years. It may also have been that it was the end of a long day.

Klosterbräu Maibock

It is Spargel season (white asparagus) and they had a special Spargel menu. I started with the soup, which was very good.

Spargel Soup
I followed this up with a Schnitzel and Spargel combo -- Schnitzel, Spargel and Beer -- three of the most important food groups.

Schnitzel and Spargel
I was soon back at the apartment. It was a little over 30 miles, mostly flat but a few hills along the way. A good first day riding.

First Beer In Bamberg!

(Cross posted at )

After a bus detour and an extra couple of train changes (the tracks were closed on one section of the route between Aschaffenburg and Lohr) I finally arrived in Bamberg.

After putting the bike together I went for a short test ride to make sure all the parts stayed attached. It was only a few km but I was in need of a beer so I stopped at Brauerei Spezial. It was as wonderful as ever.

Spezial Lagerbier
I hadn't had anything to eat since a quick sandwich while waiting for the train. I asked Helga, the waitress, for the menu. She said I had to wait another half hour or so but I should have the Schäuferla (pork shoulder) as it was especially good today. I asked to see the menu and she repeated "you want the Schäuferla." So I ordered it (you don't want to mess with Helga) and she was right.

Spezial Schäuferla
Another couple of beers with dinner and it was time to move on -- the jet lag was starting to kick in and it would be embarrassing to fall asleep at the table. So I headed back to towards my apartment but Schlenkera was on the way so I stopped in just for a quick quality inspection.

Schlenerla Märzen

With the first beer I was willing to give them a passing mark but I take my quality control duties seriously so I had a few more just to be sure. Before I realized it, it was 11pm and time for sleep.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Warning: Beer and Bike Trip Approaching

Tomorrow I'm off to Germany with my trusty Bike Friday for 10 days or so of riding around Bamberg (weather permitting). While beer will be consumed it's more a bike trip than a beer trip so mostly I'll post over