There’s something about Bamberg and its signature smoky beers which begs for cold gray days. You almost have to tuck into a dark atmospheric pub with a green tiled oven emanating fiery warmth. Guilt over spending too much time not seeing the sights is minimal when you’re cold, it’s wet and you have a Rauchbier in front of you. When they talk about man’s base needs, no one ever said seeing a cathedral was in the mix.
there’s something about Bamberg in winter
My first trips to the smoky gem all fell in winter, due more to circumstance rather than any master plan. I started to develop a feeling a trip to Bamberg in warmer weather would lack something. How could you sit outside when these museum-piece pubs dotted the cobblestone streets? Once I moved to Munich, I found I could go to Bamberg more often and I had the full spectrum of seasons to visit. The first summer trip was a revelation. I discovered there was a river beyond the small stretches I’d seen crossing bridges in winter. It was surprisingly sparsely developed and had a very rustic charm. Thankfully, it wasn’t completely devoid of the opportunity for a beer.
the first stroll on the river
I also discovered Bamberg has a love affair with flowers, potted ones seemed to adorn every window and bridge. The Rose Garden finally lived up to its name after a few bleak cold-weather stops.
Bamberg loves flowers
It took awhile longer before I made it in spring only to discover the profusion of horse chestnut trees radiantly in bloom. It was the one thing I’d thought Munich had over Bamberg. I was wrong. And I was wrong about Bamberg in warm weather. It’s different than winter but every bit as good.
spring in Bamberg
Finally, I found out Bamberg is blessed with more than its fair share of great places to enjoy a beer outside including two bona fide Bierkellers. With so many choices and generally never enough time, it’s good to have an idea of where you should go before arriving and this guide will help you do just that. Please note, place names are links to more in-depth write-ups with contact information within them.
Spezial Keller is probably the quintessential outside beer drinking experience in town with fine views of the Bamberg “skyline,” a fair amount of leafy trees, full meals and occasionally jazz brunches on Sunday. It’s an atmospheric place to enjoy a Spezial Lager and occasionally a Spezial U. It’s one of the only “outside” places open in winter when Spezial Bock is on.
Spezial Keller is indeed special
Wilde Rose Keller may be the “other” Keller but aside from missing the view, it’s every bit as nice and offers more leafy shade if it’s a hot summer day. The food is better and more reasonably priced. Note, the Wilde Rose is a true Bierkeller and allows its patrons to bring their own food. They also now have their Kellerbier brewed by Brauerei Trunk and since they are not tied to a brewery, they can also carry the Trunk Weissbier and Schlenkerla Märzen. There’s a cool old wooden pavilion for good measure and they have live music too.
Wilde Rose isn’t just the “other” Keller
Greifenklau Biergarten is much smaller but has a view of the Altenburg, lots of leafy trees, excellent food and their owned house-brewed beers. Be sure to reserve if going for lunch. Their flagship is the Lager but I personally love the Greif-R, a lightly smoky treat, if you see it on the menu in spring. In summer, it tends to be the Zwickel.
the leafy Greifenklau Biergarten oasis
Bootshaus has something all the others lack: a waterfront location. There’s some trees but most of the respite from the sun is in the form of larger umbrellas. This is a place to bask in the sun, enjoy a good meal and not only Weiherer Lager and Pils but also their own Bernd Das Bier, if Craft Beer is your thing. A stroll through the popular park, The Hain, en route is a bonus.
the waterfront Bootshaus
Altenburg Biergartenis certainly the highest of the Bamberg outside beer drinking options with a castle as its backdrop and view as far as the eye can see over the Franconian countryside. They also have not only Mahrs and Weiherer beers but also the fine Sonne Hell from nearby Bischberg.
While the beer always seems better in their old world pub, Mahrs Bräu has a very nice Biergarten with ample shade and a changing menu of fine meals. Their once renowned “U” seems to be fizzier out here under the trees but you might get lucky and they always have a few beers on tap including a light Sommer Pils.
the always busy Mahrs Biergarten
Der Pelikan isn’t just one of the town’s best quirky pubs, it also has a lovely green courtyard Biergarten which is justifiably popular with an eclectic Asian fusion menu and Mönchsambacher Export and sometimes the hard to find Heckel Bier on tap.
Fässla Keller is the preferred outlet for the brewery’s beers in the warmer months and truly has a Keller feel to it. There’s lots of trees considering it’s in town but umbrellas are in place in case in rains. They serve full meals and Fässla Zwergla on tap, something you won’t find even at the brewery tap.
Fässla Keller is a shady Zwegla oasis
Das Eckerts may lack the old world charm of most of its competitors and there’s not a leafy tree in sight but it does have a waterside location and nice views. Despite its central location, it somehow manages a removed quality from the hustle bustle. Along with a higher end menu, it features a house Kellerbier brewed by the renowned Gänstaller brewery as well as their lovely Zwickel Pils. If that’s not enticement enough, there’s Huppendorfer Vollbier, Held-Bräu Hell and Weiherer Zwickel Dunkel all on tap too.
a break from the old world awaits
When people think of drinking outside at Schlenkerla, they generally envision the hordes of revelers out front of their museum-piece pub. Their Schwemm or stand up area just inside the entrance could never hold all those who’d want to use it so most grab a beer from the Schenke and join the throng. In 2007, they put a little Biergarten area out back for a more refined experience, allowing those who wanted to drink outside to have a seat as well. Please note, it’s a no-no to buy a beer inside and bring it out to sit here. It’s quite nice and generally shady. It has always been expanded for the Bockbieranstich but during the COVID era, it has become nearly always so. The best spots are in the permanent area with trees but the extra seats generally mean you can find a spot somewhere. Their Märzen is always on but in spring, try the Fastenbier and in summer the lower-in-alcohol Kräusen. Two gravity dispense barrels when not one of the other breweries in town has one. Hats off to Schlenkerla.
Schlenkerla’s surprisingly nice Biergarten
Brauhaus zum Sternla is another old world pub with a surprisingly nice courtyard outside seating area, popular with the local lunch crowd so reservations are suggested. The food’s excellent and they have a range of house-brewed beers and rotating seasonal beers too. Their Export is my favorite.
Zapfhahn has a small courtyard area which they’ve even managed to squeeze a tree into along with Huppendorfer Vollbier on tap as well as one guest beer. The one I got was quite fizzy and on the cold side but if it’s hot out that might not be such a bad thing. I’ve not eaten there but everyone seems to love their burgers.
Café Abseits is a bit of a walk from town but in the vicinity of the Fässla Keller and not far from Mahrs so if looking for another place to enjoy a beer outside, they have a nice area out back. They have five beers on tap including Mönchsambacher Lagerbier and Huppendorfer Vollbier and Weizen. They also always have a guest beer and very often something you won’t see anywhere else such as Zehendner Festbier.
Klosterbräu has nice seating out front as well as a small courtyard typical of the old places. There is additional seating in summer on the river with a view of the town hall upon the bridge. Factor in their excellent food along with a fine array of beers and it’s a great place to enjoy a meal outside.
One place I’ve never managed to get to is the Einhorn Keller but my guess I’ll be there very early on in the Keller season of 2022.
I hope The Guide to Bamberg’s Best Biergartens helps make your warm weather trip to the Beer Mecca a great one. If it’s helped, please consider buying me a beer 🍺!
If you’re going in cooler weather or just want to know more about all of the breweries in town, don’t leave home without The Pocket Guide to Bamberg Beer.
Prefer a guided beer experience in Bamberg.