Bamberg – a city of smokey beer

bamberg zum sternla

This tastes just like bacon

My first thought when trying some Bamberg beer last year. As everyone knows bacon is a food of the Gods, therefore Bamberg must be heaven.

We travelled down to Bamberg with our trusty Deutsche Bahn train from Dresden. After checking into our hostel, we made our way into the island district to visit the tourist office.

bamburg town hall


The town of Bamberg is located in Upper Franconia in Bavaria. It emerged unscathed from World War Two and is a UNESCO World Heritage site, which is an extra plus for visiting.

There are currently 8 breweries, however, in 1818 there were originally 70 (that would be some brewery crawl!).

Back in the day common folk were only allowed to brew beer with a special permit “brewing rights”. Making beer was initially restricted to personal use. Whoever owned these brewing rights could sell his surplus beer to the public.

To indicate the serving of beer to the public the landlords attached signs (“Gastfrieden”) to their house walls. Later from this the so-called “Schildgerechtigkeit” developed, i.e. fixing a sign to the house front which advertised the sale of beer. You will still see these signs around – look out for the Star of David like emblem.

We picked up a BierSchmecker Tour pack, BAMBERG Tourismusfor €22 you get

A rucksack containing
A Brochure listing all the breweries in Bamberg and Bamberg County and a detailled description of the breweries and the beer specialities that are part of the tour
5 vouchers for beer
(Participating brew pubs: Fässla, Keesmann, Schlenkerla, Spezial, Greifenklau, Ambräusianum, Kaiserdom, Mahr’s Bräu)
or other goods of your choice
(Entrance to the Brewery Museum, a wooden beer mug lid or a bottle opener)

We headed past the picturesque Old Town Hall towards Schlenkerla Brewery.

bamberg schlenkerla


We had to visit here as this was the first smoked beer we had ever tried. Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier – original Schlenkerla smoked beer. The waitress quickly plonked our seidla ( half litre) on the table.

bamberg schlenkerla

The coasters say

“Even if the brew tastes somewhat strange at the first swallow, do not stop, because soon you will realize that your thirst will not decrease and your pleasure will visibly increase.”

Very true, I loved it on draught. Not as strong as in the bottle and could quite happily have sat there all night, drinking beer and sniffing the passing dishes loaded with food.

More research was required so we headed off along the river to Brauerei Keesmann

bamberg keesman

Brewing since 1867, this pretty brewery building has a sheltered beer garden.

bamberg keesman

Brewed beers include:
Bamberger Herren Pils, Keesman Hell, Sterna lager, Bock, Josephi Bock and, Keesmann Weisse.

bamberg keesman

The next brewery was just across the road, Mahrs Bräu Bamberg GmbHMahrs Bräu. Brewing since 1610, this brewery has a network of rooms in which to drink in, as well as a Biergarten.


mahrs brau bamberg

We settled at one of the huge tables and were quickly served by one of the lovely ladies.

Another good selection of beer, as well as food and “brotzeit” – bread time snacks. However, we had to keep going – purely for research!

A wander across the river took us to Zum Sternla

bamberg zum sternla

A delicious seidla of Spezial beer accompanied by some food. Leberkase (meat loaf) with fried egg and potatoes as well as some soused herring in cream sauce.

bamberg zum sternla
bamberg zum sternla




I am Emma and with my husband Mark write Foodie Explorers, which is a food and travel website.

I am a member of the Guild of Food Writers and British Guild of Travel Writers.

We have a wide range of judging experience covering products, hotels and have judged, for example, for Great Taste Awards and Scottish Baker of the Year.

Along the way Mark gained WSET Level 2 in Wine and I have WSET Level 2 in Spirits as well as picking up an award with The Scotsman Food and Drink Awards.    

Usually I can be found sleeping beside a cat.

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