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Bamberg, Germany

So off the back of an amazing two days in Würzburg, Bamberg had a lot to live up to if it was going to be on par. Fortunately, the weather was still excellent for the two days we were there, which meant lots of opportunity to sample as many of the Rauchbiers (smoked beers) that have become synonymous with this quaint Bavarian town.

With 11 production breweries providing a variety of beers to the 70,000 inhabitants, it’s quite amazing that they have all managed to stay in business for as long as they have.  Make no mistake, at one point in the early 1800’s Bamberg had 65 breweries pumping out various quantities of their chosen beer styles, so relatively it’s not many at all.

Our first evening prompted a trip up the hill to Michaelsberg for the Fränkisches Brauereimuseum – the Franconian Brewery museum for those lacking in German translation skills.

Fair warning #1 – the hill is steep and on a hot day takes it out of you, but the entry is cheap enough and if you fancy it, you can stick around for a beer or two after you have finished looking through the exhibits. Fair warning #2 – the museum is almost entirely in German, so either brush up on those translation skills we talked about earlier, or accept that you may be looking at a lot of cool old brewery kit without being 100% certain you know what it is.

We dropped into Scheiners am Dom for some food and a pint of their home brewed smoked beer. Delicious but the Schlenkerla brewpub was in site, so we headed down the hill slightly and joined the queue waiting to be served from the beer hatch.  Quite literally a corridor with a hatch in one wall – behind which was a big burly bloke offering two options of ale – full strength smokey Rauchbier, or a slightly lighter version for the summer. We took one of each (of course) and headed outside to enjoy our beers in the sunshine. The Schlenky was as expected brilliant – there is something special about being able to enjoy beer from the barrel.

We made it to Braurei Spezial – over the road from Fässla, by this point we were obviously parched and in need of some smokey goodness! So a Spezial Brau (not to be confused with the Carlsberg guff in the UK) Rauchbier was quaffed, a good beer, but nothing on Schlenkerla in our humble opinion!

We wandered around the town a while and came across another spot on the hit list – Hofbräu . A pleasant spot to sit outside and enjoy the passing foot traffic with a pint – we enjoyed the doppelbock from Kloster Scheyern – a very adept bunch of Benedictine Monks in Bavaria. The sun was shining, the beer was flowing. We could stay here a while.

After a tip off from the locals, we ended up wandering out of central Bamberg to Griefenklau brewery, who were in full swing of a party. For sure we were the only English people there, which was all good until 99.5% of the crowd starting singing German drinking songs – TZIKA TZAKA! OI! OI! OI! (NB we were the confused 0.5%).

An all round fabulous stay in Bamberg.

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