What better way to discover the city of Bamberg than with a self-guided brewery tour! With over ten breweries within the city limits, and an additional 60 in the county, this city is a beer enthusiast’s delight. These collective breweries pour up to 400 different styles of beer. The most famous being the “rauchbier,” which is a smoked malt black beer.
Bamberg is a lovely city in the rich Franconian region in Germany. The medieval city is jam packed with UNESCO World Heritage Sites. On top of a thriving culinary scene, there is a Romanesque cathedral, the iconic Old Town Hall, and many vistas of the surrounding seven hillsides. The cobblestone streets are lined with modern sculptures, farmers markets, and adorable little boutique shops.
Follow along with these “must see” places for an epic Bamberg self-guided brewery tour. Sample the delicious cuisine and other culinary delights of the city. While savoring the unique beer, visit a few notable highlights of this charming city.
Table of Contents
- Must See Places: Bamberg Self-Guided Brewery Tour
- Bamberg “Other” Foodie Essentials
- Bamberg, More Than Beer
- Where to Sleep in Bamberg (After a Self-Guided Brewery Tour)
- Bamberg: A Self-Guided Brewery Tour Sampling
Must See Places: Bamberg Self-Guided Brewery Tour
Bamberg is all about the smokey malt beer, “rauchbier.” However, Bamberg is not the birthplace of this unique brew. There are many romanticized legends on why it’s often referred to as “Bamberg Black Beer,” but these brewing methods originated further to the East. Here’s a “quickish” history lesson on how Bamberg helped revitalize this ancient brew method.
A “Quickish” History Lesson About Bamberg’s Smokey Beer
Smoked beers have been made for thousands upon thousands of years across the globe. Beer production changed in the early 17th century. Before, traditional kilns used an open fire to smoke the malts. After 1635, these traditional fire powered ovens were replaced with “modern” smokeless kilns. This means beer production could happen almost anywhere, was less of a safety hazard, and ultimately, it was cheaper. Kilns that relied on open flames began to disappear.
By the year 1900, this method was nearly extinct, except for in Bamberg! There were four breweries within the city that were still brewing using their open fire powered kilns. To this day, Bamberg still has two breweries (Schlenkerla & Brauerei Spezial) that are recognized for producing this distinctive beer in the traditional method. In fact, they are the only two breweries in the world that have never stopped utilizing the smoked production method throughout the years. By the way, there isn’t just one black beer on the menu, but a wide range of styles and methods.
Now, to the most important part: Sampling! Try at least one style of Bamberg’s pride and joy, the rauchbier.
First, begin the Bamberg self-guided brewery tour at Schlenkerla. Without a doubt, it is THE place to enjoy a rauchbier. If on a time constraint, Schlenkerla is the one brewery not to miss. Inside, find inviting tables, friendly servers, and a lively atmosphere. On top of that, can we talk about how amazing their food is?
For Foodies: Don’t miss the Bamberg style onion in a smoked beer sauce! Drool.
The traditionally clothed “bar maids” are constantly juggling cold mugs of the smoked beer to eager customers. Due to its popularity, there may be a bit of a wait. Don’t be discouraged!
Schlenkerla tops my lists on any Bamberg self-guided brewery tour.
Practical Info About Schlenkerla
- Find Them Here: Dominikanerstraße 6, Bamberg
- Daily: 9:30 – 23:30
- Kitchen hours: 11:30 – 22:00
- Check out Schlenkerla’s official website with tons of in-depth history on the smokey beer!
Just a few inviting doors over is the Ambräusianum Brewery. It makes for a convenient next stop on a Bambery self-guided brewery tour. Ambräusianum has been brewing beer since 2004, so they are comparatively young to the other breweries in town. They offer a wide range of delicious Franconian style beers, including the smokey beer. Order a sampling of their beers on the “tasting menu.” The food here is also delicious! Savor a beer next to the beautiful copper tanks, or at a large table in their open concept beer hall.
Practical Info About Ambräusianum GmbH
- Find Them Here: Dominikanerstraße 10, Bamberg
- Tuesday – Friday: 16:00 – 23:30
- Saturday: 11:00 – 23:00
- Sunday: 11:00 – 21:00
- Verify hours on their Facebook Page
Next, head across the two lovely rivers to visit Brauerei Spezial. This is the other recognized brewery that has been consistently making rauchbier in the traditional method since they opened their doors. Some say this building has been a functioning pub since 1536. Since 1898, the Merz family has been utilizing it as a brewery and the beer recipes have been passed along from generation to generation.
Locals and tourists flock here to sample many varietals of the smokey black beer.
Share a table with new friends, or head out back to the outdoor beer garden. Order from the pub menu or sample from their extensive beer list!
Practical Info About Brauerei Spezial
- Find Them Here: Obere Königstraße 10, Bamberg
- Monday – Friday, Sunday: 9:00 – 23:00
- Saturday: 9:00 – 2:00
- Official Facebook Page
- Hey, love Brauerei Spezial? Why not sleep in one of the cozy guestrooms?
Fässla Brewery and Hotel
Fässla Brewery and Hotel is just down the road a bit from Brauerei Spezial. Since 1649, Fässla has been brewing up a wide range of beers. This pub feels like stepping back in time with its old world decor. Try a hearty plate of authentic Franconian cuisine. For those looking for a superb outdoor space, try their massive beer garden, Fässla Keller, just a 20 minute walk out of town. It can also be reached via a local bus (#911). The small gnome rolling a keg of beer is their iconic symbol which can be seen all around Bamberg.
Practical Info About Fässla Brewery
- Find Them Here: Obere Königstraße 19-21, Bamberg
- Monday – Saturday: 8:30 – 23:00
- Kitchen Hours: 11:00 -14:00 & 17:00 – 21:00
- Sunday: 8:30 – 12:00 (no kitchen)
- Monday – Saturday: 8:30 – 23:00
- Fässla Keller, Moosstraße 32, Bamberg
- April – October (Daily): 11:00 – 23:00
- November – March: From 11:00, Closed on Monday, Saturdays opens at 15:00
- Fässla Brewery & Hotel boasts modern sleeping rooms at their facility.
Ahörnla im Sand
Finally, head back over both the rivers to Ahörnla im Sand. With its late hours, this brew house is the perfect place for a “night cap.” This building has a special history, since it was formerly the “Einhorn” brewery. Einhorn produced beer here for over 650 years. Now, this cozy establishment slings beer, cocktails, snacks, and sammies until wee hours into the morning.
Practical Info About Ahörnla im Sand
- Find Them Here: Obere Sandstraße 24, Bamberg
- Monday – Thursday: 19:00 – 2:00
- Friday & Saturday: 19:00 – 4:00
- Here’s their Facebook Page
Bamberg “Other” Foodie Essentials
Bamberg is all about their smokey beer and traditional Franconian fare, but if you need a break, try these two local places in Bamberg.
Weinstube Nüßlein is an intimate little wine bar cozily tucked away on a side street. The wine list is extensive and shows off delicious wines of the Franconia region. This simple wine bar has been serving guests for over 50 years. The simple decor feels like sipping on a glass of wine in someone’s cozy home. A hidden gem in Bamberg.
- Find Them Here: Lugbank 1, Bamberg
- Verify their hours here.
Bäckerei Seel claims to be Bamberg’s oldest bakery. They have been baking pastries and traditional goodies since 1427. There are two locations in Bamberg, but I loved Bäckerei Seel on Lugbank Street. Take a delicious pastry to go, or have it on site with a coffee. This location has an open concept with large picture windows, a lovely display case, and is surrounded by cute little shops.
- Find Them Here: Lugbank 8
- Hours: Monday – Friday 5:45 – 18:00, Saturday: 5:45 – 17:00
Bamberg, More Than Beer
Bamberg is a culinary delight, but there is more than yummy Franconian food, beer and wines to see here! This UNESCO World Heritage City can be divided into 3 main areas: the historical center, the island district, and the market garden district.
History Scattered Among 7 Hills
Those who appreciate stunning architecture will love Bamberg’s Romanesque Cathedral, St. Michael’s Monastery, and the New Residence Building. Don’t miss the lovely rose gardens at the New Residence. Bamberg was built on seven hills, so there are incredible vistas walking along the spacious green area.
The “island district” is the center pedestrian zone in Bamberg. Admire classic German styled homes and the city’s most iconic image, the Old Town Hall, which straddles the river. Find many frescoes on the building and a lovely footbridge which connects two sides of the city. This area has tons of artistic sculptures and memorials. Browse one of many charming little shops. On Mondays thru Saturdays stroll by the bustling Grüner Markt, or Green Market. Find plenty of produce, artisanal goods, and other local foodie gems.
Market Gardener District
On the opposite side of the historical area is the Market Gardener District. This district was home to, you guessed it, the typical market family gardeners. From this district came the beloved local onion, which can be found on nearly every menu. To get a better understanding of this urban neighborhood, swing by the Market Gardeners’ and Wine-Growers Museum, which provides a tour of a traditional garden home.
Where to Sleep in Bamberg (After a Self-Guided Brewery Tour)
Ventura’s Hotel & Gästehaus is a centrally located boutique hotel only a few blocks from the Old Town Hall. It’s the perfect location to take a self-guided brewery tour of Bamberg and explore all the city has to offer. This modern hotel has a kettle and coffee machine in each room. The rooms are tastefully decorated with beautiful accent lamps. Enjoy the large windows which overlook the bustling city center. The staff is helpful, the location perfect, and the price fair for what’s included. They have mastered the art of small thoughtful details.
Did you have too much fun on your Bamberg self-guided brewery tour?
Don’t forget there are rooms available at the following Breweries & Pubs!
- Brauerei Spezial
- Fässla Brewery and Hotel
Bamberg: A Self-Guided Brewery Tour Sampling
In short, Bamberg is the perfect city to explore the Franconian cuisine and take a self-guided brewery tour. Of course, Bamberg boasts over 10 microbreweries within the city limits, and the above establishments make for a great sampling itinerary. From iconic breweries, old inns, to pubs, this is a great starter list to discover this UNESCO listed city. There’s more to Bamberg than it’s beloved smokey “rauchbier.” Sample one of 400 different diverse beers, sip on local wine, savor a traditional baked good at a bakery, and try to tour all three unique districts of the city.
While most people associate Munich and the region of Bavaria with excellent beer, Bamberg still remains a hidden gem in the lesser visited Franconian region.
Have you visited Bamberg in the Franconian region? Did you sample the smokey rauchbier? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!
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