Brauerei Heller (Schlenkerla)

Dominikanerstraße 6
96049 Bamberg
Tel: 0951-56060

Bamberg Station 1.6 km

Opening hours:
Daily from 9:30
Closed January 1st, Fat Tuesday, December 24th-26th and 31st

Output: 20000 HL

Founded in 1405, the Schlenkerla pub was once the site of the original brewery but it was moved up the hill to Stephansburg in 1936 due to increased demand.  The atmospheric pub very much remains and it is hard to imagine a more sacred place of beer pilgrimage than this masterpiece of historical preservation. This would be an amazing place even without its beer. With it, it is as can’t miss as it gets in the world of beer. It’s also one of  Bamberg’s top sights and only someone totally devoid of information would not at least peek their head in.

Their world class Rauchbier from wooden barrels is part of Schlenkerla’s allure

What I love about Schlenkerla is that despite all the hype, it not only doesn’t disappoint but very much remains a locals’ meeting place, too. It also has many rooms so you can go multiple times and have an entirely different experience each time. From the main room’s dark wood to the vaulted ceilings of the adjoining rooms, you can’t go wrong.  Actually, you might not have a choice, grab a seat if you see one. This place is full nearly all day.

This is where I go every year for my birthday so I’ve been here many times.  It is at its best in winter. There’s something about tucking in here on a cold night that is unbeatable. Their Schäuferla (pork shoulder) is great and I love the Bamberger Bratwurst, which is distinct from the regular Bratwurst, another meal on the menu. I’ve never had a bad meal and besides standbys like Schäuferla and Bratwurst, they have the Bamberger Zwiebeln.  This is an onion stuffed with ground meat (pork/beef mix) topped with a piece of bacon. It’s served with mashed potatoes and really hits the spot and pairs well with their Rauch Märzen. It’s not always on the menu and when it is, it seems to go quickly so if you really want to try it, go early for lunch and check the menu outside to see if it’s on that day.

Schäuferla, Bratwurst & the Bamberger Zwiebeln

Aside form their famed Rauchbier Märzen, there is generally one other seasonal on tap. Nicely, they have small notices on the table letting you know what they are, something other breweries should do. From Ash Wednesday to Easter, it is the amazing Fastenbier, just strong enough to let you know but not so strong that drinking an extra one is out of the question. I’ve only seen them once but they had great salted baked circular rolls, which went well with it.

baked salted rings go well with their amazing Fastenbier

In summer, they have a hoppy lightly smoked Kräusen and it’s a great time to try some of the Schlenkerla’s cold dishes like Kalterbraten, cold sliced roast pork.

their summer Kräusen is lovely as is the Kalterbraten

While the atmospheric old pub can’t be beat, if there in summer you should check out their small Biergarten out back. I never thought I’d pass up a chance to sit inside with a view of the wooden barrels but with visiting friends and a gorgeous day, not to mention a wife who loves the sun, as our designated driver, what could I say?

friends enjoying the Biergarten & the old pub inside

In autumn, they have a Bockbieranstich (first tapping). It’s generally in early October and their Ur-Bock is truly my favorite of the line-up. Another things not to miss is Zwetchgenbames. This is thinly sliced, very lean beef which is smoked over plum wood. There’s never too much smoke at Schlenkerla.

Ur-Bock at the Anstich & specialty not to miss Zwetchgenbames

The Ur-Bock is only around for October and November because come the Advent season, their lush Rauch Dopplebock Eiche takes the stage. Make sure to eat something hearty and if you can manage it, get a seat next to the green tile oven in the main room. You’ll totally understand why as great as Bamberg is in summer, winter is when it really shines.

potent Eiche next to the Kochelofen with pork belly

Generally, there are two beers from wooden barrels: the Märzen and the seasonal. Please note, these are real gravity dispense vessels, not mere decorative ornaments. Schlenkerla is the only remaining brewery in Bamberg which serves all of their draft beer this way. There might be a month here or there when there isn’t one but they also have a regularly featured Rauchweizen in bottles and it goes well with Weisswurst if there early enough. They stop serving it after 11:00. While Weißwurst is not typical of Franconia, having it at Schlenkerla is an interesting variation because even their Weizen is of the smokey variety. I think it might be interesting if they put a smoky element in their mustard but one thing they could improve on greatly is their pretzels. I think if I get it again, I’ll get bread instead as this is something they do very well.

Rauchweizen with Weißwurst

I was recently back for the first time post-lockdown and Schlenkerla unsurprisingly had most of the competition beat by being able to open despite the many restrictions. I had a great Krustenbraten and it was the first draft beer I’d had in six months. Man, did it taste good!

first post-Lockdown visit was a smash

We returned in November 2021 for the Urbock and were lucky to find some items from their medieval theme dinner still on offer. We had a lovely roast beer with roast potatoes. It wasn’t exactly what we’d expected but it was great none-the-less.

my wife enjoying a great meal

If you hate smoky things, you’re probably in the wrong place but no matter what, you should at least try a Rauchbier. If you are into drinking more and this is just not your thing, they have a bottled Lagerbier. This is made with no smoked malt but it does have a faint smokiness as it is lagered in the same tanks. I’ve never had it in the pub but have bought bottles to bring home (who drinks bottles in a pub with wooden barrels?!) Schlenkerla is brewing some very low alcohol beers and their Hansla is a good option if those who don’t drink and want to try a smoke beer.

Schlenkerla Lager & Hansla

New to the line-up are two very low alcohol beers (.9%). I’ve tried both the Heinzlein Dunkles Bier and Helles Bier, both from a bottles brought home. They were surprisingly good.

some bottled low alcohol beers

One good thing about Schlenkerla is they always have food, even after traditional lunch time. I often wind up eating here as my train gets in when other breweries no longer serve food. Their Schlenkerla Bratwurst plate is excellent and comes with an interesting Kraut and fresh bread. I washed it down with the Kräusen.  While there recently, I picked up a bottle of their Stiftsgartenbier, brewed for the brewing museum.

always a meal & something new brewing at Schlenkerla

I made a specific brief stop at Schlenerkla to pick up their unfiltered Helles Lagerbier and also to sample the new as of March 2023 tap version of their Rauchweizen. It was superb!

newly tapped Rauchweizen!

Recent trips have brought experiences drinking some new Schlenkerla entries like their Weichsel Rotbier from both wooden barrel and on tap.

Schlenkerla Weichsel Rotbier

If you’re feeling the fat from your meal, try one of their Bierbrands. This is a distilled beer shot. They have two: one dark and smokey, the other clear and fiery. They both do the trick of relieving this full feeling and warming you up on a cold night.

Beers: Aecht Schlenkerla Märzen Rauchbier from wooden barrels. Regular tap: Rauchweizen, Weichsel (Rotbier) and Erle (Schwarzbier).  Schlenkerla Rauchweizen, Helles Schlenkerla Lagerbier, Heinlein Helles Bier (low alcohol), Heinlein Dunkles Bier (low alcohol) in bottles. New as of March 2023, the Rauchweizen (as well as seasonal beers) is available from a regular tap in the small gift stand in the courtyard.

Beer calendar:
Aecht Schlenkerla Fastenbier is available from Ash Wedensday to Easter
Aecht Schlenkerla Kräusen is available from June to the middle of August
Aecht Schlenerka Urbock is on October to December
Aecht Schlenkerla Eiche is available from the 1st Advent through Christmas time
Bockbier Anstich is the first Thursday after October 3rd

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