"It's 5 o' Clock Somewhere!"

Trip Start Jul 17, 2010
Trip End Aug 07, 2010

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Flag of Germany  , Bavaria,
Monday, July 26, 2010

From Cari: Just a clarification: the actual rule in Germany is that it is time to drink at 4 o' clock, an hour before Americans.

From Greg: In Bamberg, it is not only socially accepted but also expected to be on the wrong side of inebriated before 3PM. We were out the door by the crack of 11AM and off to the Bamberg Tourist Information building. We quickly picked up a "Breweries of Bamberg" trail guide, and off to find Braueri Spezial.

From Cari: The booklet had a nifty map that mapped out the path you should take to visit the breweries west of the river (of which there were four) and breweries east of the river (of which there were five).

From Greg: At Spezial, we got our first smoked beer (Rauchbier-Lagerbier). It was lightly smoked and tasted fine; nothing remarkable.

From Cari: I noticed that this was one of the only breweries that served their beer on tap. The other breweries would open bottles and pour them into glasses, which seemed a little weird to me. Even though I didn’t get a beer, I did try Greg’s, and I preferred this one because it was the least carbonated of the day.

From Greg: The second brewery, Faessla, had a sweet, sweet beer garden. The garden was outside, but completely under cover, so you could be out there enjoying a Echtes Bamberger Zwergla (the highlighted beer) in all weathers.

From Cari: A point of interest for me about Brewery Faessla was that the building was made so that the middle hallway was an archway (containing a few chairs and tables) that the brewery and beer garden both branched off of, making it possible for a person to come to the Brewery to enjoy a beer but honestly deny that he had ever been in the bar.

From Greg: In route to brewery three, it started raining, so we ducked into a local meat shop where they sold “meatloaf” sandwiches.

From Cari: It wasn’t raining; it was pouring. We had stopped to admire the St. Gangolf’s Collegiate Church when it started pouring. The guide book mentioned a local butcher shop on the square across from the church called Kalb, which sold “Leberkaees,” a local Bamberg specialty of “meat loaf in a roll.”

From Greg: A slice of loaf and some mustard on a roll made for an excellent midday snack. We enjoyed our sandwiches and discussed beer with some local Bambergians until it stopped raining and we could continue on our epic quest.

From Cari: On our way to Brewery Keesman, we passed by the Market District, which was essentially giant farms/gardens of vegetables and fruits inside the city limits where the local marketers grew their food.

From Greg: The next brewery was Keesman, where we had a mediocre pilsner (Herren Pils) and met a group of Brits making a similar quest of Bamberg beer. These gentleman were nice (we had even seen them at a previous brewery) and had obviously fallen off the deep end (if you catch my meaning).

From Cari: I ordered a beer here because I had tried the other two and deemed them low enough in carbonation that I could let them sit for a few minutes and shake the bubbles out. This beer, however, was extremely carbonated and nothing I did would get rid of the bubbles. I didn’t finish it. The British man that Greg had made friends with was very helpful, providing us with a lot of information that we didn’t really need about souvenirs, buses to take to the top of the hill to a closed brewery, and where to get bus tickets, but he was really nice.

From Greg: Brewery Number Four (Mahr’s Brau) was, by far, the lamest. The ceiling were six foot high and there were a total of three other patrons. We were hoping to eat some lunch, but the waitress said, “No food.” We quickly drank our beer and departed.

From Cari: I ordered a beer here, too, because Gunter (our guide from Munich) said that it was his favorite (beer name: Ungespundet-Hefetrueb). There is no accounting for tastes: it was way too carbonated and almost had a banana flavor when you shook it. Greg said that it was an unofficial “off-taste” from the yeast strand that they used. When we departed Mahr’s Brau, I navigated us home successfully, although Greg wanted to question every turn I made. Being the excellent lead navigator that I am (just kidding), I didn’t listen to my slightly inebriated co-pilot, and we made it back to the hotel safely, even strolling along the river path.

From Greg: It was nap time.

Post nap-time, it was time for dinner and more beer. The final brewery on our walking tour of Bamberg was Schlenkerla, owned by Braueri Heller. Now this was a smoked beer. I have heard many people in the states claim that they want a bacon beer. Anyone who makes this claim has obvious never tried Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier. It straight up stunk like bacon and bonfire, but ultimately tasted pretty good (albeit, weird). Also, I had a pork should for dinner, which was far inferior to the pork shoulder from the night before.

From Cari: It’s true. It smelled just like bacon and tasted like it, too. In order to turn grain into malt, it has to be soaked in water, allowed to germinate, and then quickly kiln-dried. Today, most people dry the malt with hot air. Before modern kilns, however, the malting process took place over an open fire, and where there is fire, there is smoke. The book informed us that in ancient times, all beers had to have had a smoky flavor, but today, Schlenkerla is one of the only breweries left that still smoke their own malt (on premises even). I had more sausage, and I was discovering that I was having trouble making myself chew it because I am really quite over sausage for a while.

At Schlenkerla, we ended up sitting with a couple that had a very cute baby and a very cute dog. It turned out that the woman spoke nearly ten languages (including Japenese) and was very friendly and talkative. Her husband only spoke Italian, but he was still friendly enough and tried to input into the conversation whenever he could. We left very soon after they did, buying some gelato from a shop on the way back to the hotel before heading in for the night (just beating the rain).
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