Bamberg prides itself with being on seven hills, as it symbolises similarity to Rome. The Old Town of Bamberg is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage, primarily because of its authentic medieval appearance. So knowing those facts I decided to spend the New Year’s Eve over there. It was easy to find a hotel located in the city centre near the main sights. I arrived to the city on 30 of December around 11 am.
First I visited the famous cathedral of Bamberg (94 m (308 ft) long, 28 m (92 ft) broad, 26 m (85 ft) high, and the four towers are each about 81 m (266 ft) high). Of its many historic works of art the most precious treasure of the cathedral was an equestrian statue known as the Bamberg Horseman. This statue, possibly belonging to the emperor Conrad III or the Hungarian king István (Stephan) Ist, most likely dates to approximately 1200. The statue also serves as a symbol of the city. Unfortunatelly 30 of December fell on Monday which meant that most of the museums were closed but the aspect of the beautiful medieval buildings were compensated for the other entertainments.
Being a gourmand, at dinner time I wanted to try some local specialities such as the smoked beer (in German the Rauchbier) and the nutty flavoured Bamberg potato.
According to the guide book the city is home to eight breweries: the Brauerei Fässla, Brauerei Greifenklau, Brauerei Heller-Trum (Schlenkerla), Brauerei Kaiserdom, Keesmann Bräu, Klosterbräu, Mahrs Bräu and Brauerei Spezial, and one brewpub, Ambräusianum but only two of them sell this world famous smoked beer.
Who don’t know what is the meaning of smoked beer here is some information: It is a type of beer with a distinctive smoke flavour imparted by using malted barley dried over an open flame. The Rauchbiers of Bamberg in the pub Schlenkerla in particular, are the best-known of the smoked beers. Drying malt over an open flame may impart a smoky character to the malt. This character may carry over to beers brewed with the smoked malt. Prior to the modern era, drying malted barley in direct sunlight was used in addition to drying over flames. Even though kiln drying of malt, using indirect heat, did not enter into widespread usage until the industrial era, the method was known as early as the first century BC. Also, there have been various methods over the years of preparing cereal grains for brewing, including making beer from bread, so smoked beer was not universal. Beginning in the 18th century, kiln drying of malt became progressively more common and, by the mid-19th century, had become the near-universal method for drying malted grain. Since the kiln method shunts the smoke away from the wet malt, a smoky flavour is not imparted to the grain, nor to the subsequent beer. As a result, smoke flavour in beer became less and less common, and eventually disappeared almost entirely from the brewing world.
What does make this beer so special? The distinctive smokey-lardy tast! So I popped in the Schlenkerla pub where it’s typical that only one sort of beer was available. The pub was so crowd that one couldn’t have swung a cat! But in spite of this fact I could squeeze myself up to the counter and there I ordered two pints of black beers. My husband liked the black beer very much but since I am not a great beer consumer I can say only that that it tasted really smokey but its flavor was definitely unique!