You’re heading to Bamberg, the beer Mecca. You’ve been obsessing on this trip for years. There’s only one problem. In the scheme of a European trip, your significant other seems to think Bamberg only warrants two days. You’ve tried to explain that there’s more to Bamberg than beer and maybe mentioned as an aside that there are more than ten breweries, all to no avail. They see a cathedral, a cool looking half-timbered town hall on a bridge and a few more meals of pork than they’d maybe care to eat. So, you are going to have to make some choices. No, you really don’t want to be single again. You’re going to have to pick your beers wisely. This guide will help you do just that.
All of this information is available in much more detail on Beerwanderers so to keep this guide compact and easier to use while there, I will use links in case you need more information than a list. Contact info/opening hours/links to brewery websites/food/tasting notes are conveniently there. The focus is on beers brewed in Bamberg but it will include some beers not to miss from the countryside if you have time.
Schlenkerla: This one is obvious and even non-beer people will stop here to see a museum piece pub. While there is much more to Bamberg than smoke(d) beer, it is the town’s calling card and must be sampled even by those who normally don’t like smoky things. Their Rauchbier is the most famous in the world and their flagship Märzen is the one beer you have to try in Bamberg. Honorable mention goes to any seasonal they have on: Fastenbier, Kräusen, Urbock and Eiche. Bonus points for serving all of their draft beer gravity dispense from wooden barrels. They are the last brewery in town to do so.
Brauerei Spezial: The other smoke beer brewery. They have more than their share of fans who will claim they’re even better than Schlenkerla. By all means, their Lagerbier is one of the very best beers in town. Honorable mention to their non-smoky Spezial U. This latter choice is good if you just hate smoky things. If there in winter, don’t miss their Bock. Their beers are also available with great views at the Spezialkeller. The beers, however, aren’t generally in as good form. It’s still worth heading up the hill if the weather is warm and fine.
Mahrs-Bräu: Though Mahrs has dropped quite a few notches in recent years, it’s still not only a great atmospheric pub but also has a large assortment of beers including the at one time town favorite “U.” It used to be gravity dispensed and now can be fizzy depending on who is pouring it. It’s still worth checking out. Honorable mention: Pils and seasonal Bock.
Klosterbräu: Though bought up by Kaiserdom, many feel the oldest brewery in Bamberg is now even better. Quality does seem more consistent but they have let some beers fall by the wayside. That said, their Schwärzla is a can’t miss for dark beer lovers. Honorable mention: Braunbier and seasonal Bock. It hasn’t been brewed in a few years but if you ever see the Schwärzlabock, by all means have it.
Brauerei Keesmann: Located across the road from Mahrs, it’s silly to make your way out to the Wunderburg and not stop in for Franconia’s most renowned Pils, the Herren Pils. Honorable mention: Sternla and seasonal Bock.
Brauerei Fäßla: Directly across the street from Spezial, this everyman’s pub is a favorite with locals and offers fans of non-smoky beer a nice reprieve. Many like their Gold-Pils best but the more Franconian beer is their Lagerbier. My favorite beer is their Zwergla but unfortunately, it’s not on tap at the pub. It is, however, on tap at their Fäßla Keller. Look for their hearty Doppelbock “Bambergator” occasionally from the barrel in winter.
Brauerei Greifenklau: It’s a bit of a climb to get up to this locals’ favorite but if you go in warm weather, the Biergarten out back has a wonderful view of the Altenburg. Most drink the Lagerbier but if you see the Greif-R, it’s a nice lightly smoky treat. Honorable mention: seasonal Bock.
There are quite a few newer breweries in Bamberg (full list here). If you have the time, it’s tough to not want to check them out. I’ve done just that and I would have to say that Brauhaus zum Sternla is the best of the lot, offering some traditional German style brews, which are not particularly Franconian but well-made none-the-less. Their Export was my favorite.
There’s about 250 breweries surrounding Bamberg, which is what really makes it the Beer Mecca it is. You may not have time to head into the countryside but there are some pubs in town which thankfully serve up some of the finest. Café Abseits is one of the oldest and best, featuring a few excellent regular beers: Huppendorfer Vollbier & Zehendner Lagerbier. Check their chalkboard for a generally amazing rotating beer, often Bocks you won’t find anywhere unless you go to the brewery itself along with creations from master brewer Andy Gänstaller like his Rauch Märzen.
Der Pelikan is conveniently located and has an eclectic menu if tired of Franconian fare. The atmospheric pub and cute Biergarten feature Zehendner Export on tap along with another rotating beer like the rare Heckel-Bier.
Eckerts is an upmarket riverside restaurant with a view, all day brunch and a handful of excellently chosen draft beers. It’s one of the only places to regularly find Gänstaller beers on tap, such as their noted Zwickel Pils and a brewed for the restaurant Kellerbier.
Speaking of riverside locations, you will notice a dearth of them in Bamberg despite the possiblities. If the weather is fine, head to the Bootshaus to enjoy Weiherer beers from Kundmüller, another regional favorite.
While I wouldn’t go up specifically for the beer, the Biergarten at the Altenburg Castle is a good stop if going up anyway. It offers not only beers from Mahrs and Weiherer but also the fine Sonne Hell from the nearby Bischberg brewery.
Beers from the barrel, dispensed by gravity with no added CO2, are sadly becoming a rarity in a town once noted for them. Schlenkerla is now the only brewery doing it on an everyday basis but swing by the quirky pub Galerie am Stephansberg for beers from Brauerei Sauer or Klessbaum Bier. On weekends, Rotenschild has Zehendner Lagerbier, a regional favorite flowing from the barrel too. Another offbeat entry with a single changing barrel is Strawanza, just up the road from Spezial and Fäßla.
I hope The Pocket Guide to Bamberg’s Best Beer helps make your trip to the Beer Mecca a great one. If it’s helped, please consider buying me a beer 🍺!
Heading to Bamberg in the warmer months, don’t leave home without A Guide to Bamberg’s Best Beergardens.
If you’re still thirsty, check out Looking for Mr. Good Beer for all the Franconian beers I’ve sampled.
If going to Bamberg during Bock season, check out The Bocks of Bamberg.
Want to know more about beer styles in Franconia? Enjoy ABeerC.
To search for breweries and learn more about them, go to Where the Brews Are.
In Franconia, the food is as good as the beer: The ABCs of Franconian Food.
Prefer a guided beer experience in Bamberg.