Thursday, 23 August 2007

Bamberg (part two)

Bamberger Weissbierhaus
Obere Königstrasse 38,
96052 Bamberg.
Tel. 0951 - 25503

After checking into our hotel (it was only just about 11:00) we were given an hour or so free by Andy. Whoppee! It gave me chance to do something I'd been longing to for years. No, it wasn't skateboarding naked down Michaelsberg. Or whitewater rafting down the Regnitz. My ambitions are far more modest than that.

On the drive to our hotel took us along Obere Königsstrasse, past the Bamberger Weissbierhaus. I've peered through the window a couple of times, but I'd never caught it open before. The hotel was conveniently just around the corner. I knew what I'd be using that spare hour for.

"But it isn't a brewery" I know. It does sell Maisel beer, however. I saw it as a good substitute for the closed brewery tap, which, as I recall, is quite spartan in any case.

I didn't expect Stonch to accept my invitation to come along. He mostly used gaps in the schedule for a nap. Somehow I managed to persuade him. In the end, I think he was glad I did.

Weissbierhaus is a much, much, much darker version of Bavarian rustic: panelling that is near black, pine tables with a patina of age and very low lighting. It took a bit of getting used to the gloom after the sunshine outside. (Not quite as bad as one pub in Krakow, where it was so dark inside it took five minutes before I could make out where the bar was.)

While I was ordering our beer - Dunkles for me, girly glass of Weizen for Stonch (thanks for reminding me about that Stonch) - Stonch went off to investigate. I thought he'd just gone to the bogs. No, he's just a nosy git. When he returned he dragged me from me seat saying "You've got to see this, it's brilliant".

What was it that had impressed him so much? A charming little courtyard beer garden with a gallery along one side. Beautiful, quiet and empty. You know my low opinion of my descriptive powers. A good excuse to let a photograph do all the work.

I almost forgot about the beer. Maisel Pils, Dunkles and Weizen are on draught. No prizes for guessing I chose the Dunkles (a proper half litre measure). Toffee, nuts, chocolate, roast and cream flavours I picked out. "An interestingly chewy and malty dark lager" my notes say.

A cracking little pub. I'm so glad I made the effort.

Brauerei Spezial
Obere Königsstrasse 10,
96052 Bamberg.
Tel. 0951 - 24304
Fax: 0951 - 26330

We had arranged to all meet in Spezial for an aperitif. What a street Obere Königsstrasse is. Two breweries - Spezial and Fässla - plus Bamberger Weissbierhaus. That's more excellent pubs that many cities can manage.

Time for another confession. I've drunk in Spezial many times, but never noticed there was a beergarden at the back. With its galleries, there's a striking resemblance to the Weissbierhaus garden. Except at Spezial there's a brewery on one side. I peeked through the window, but there wasn't a lot going on.

For those who know little of Bamberg, Spezial is one of the town's two Rauchbier (smoked beer) specialists. On draught they have Rauchbier Märzen, Rauchbier Lager and Ungespundetes - an filtered and unsmoked pale lager.

I kicked off with a Lagerbier. "Subtly smoky and very drinkable". The speed with which two half litres dissappeared stomachwards confirmed the drinkable bit. So quickly that I still had time for another before lunch. For a little variety, I tried the Ungespundetes. "Lightly carbonated, cloudy". I can't remember much more. Look, it was barely midday and I was already on beer number six. How much attention would you have been paying by then?

Andy met someone he recognised. It turned out to be Dan Shelton and his wife. He was making a documentary about Bamberg or something. I wasn't concentrating that much on the conversation. I was in my beer zone. Feeling the warm glow of contentment that comes after a morning's drinking. Very tall. I can remember that. Dan Shelton's very tall. And annoyingly skinny for someone who works with beer.

The plan was to eat in Klosterbräu. It didn't quite work out. I'll explain why tomorrow.

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