Saturday, 7 July 2012


I used to tell my kids that it was bad luck to walk past a pub that was open. For a while, I think they even believed me. Maybe that's because I so rarely walked past one. I'm a sucker for pubs. Or a total pisshead.

The most direct route from Bamberg station to my hotel leads virtually past the door of Fässla. I don't want any more bad luck. I've already had enough.

Fässla is filled with the usual early morning crowd: the retired, the injured, the unemployable and the odd bloke working shifts. I feel right at home, fitting into a couple of those categories. I kick off with a Lagerbier. Well I'm not going to drink Pils, am I? Not in Franconia. And that's the only other draught option.

I struggled to categorise Fässla Lagerbier, back in the days when I still bothered with that sort of thing. It's quite like a Helles, except for the colour. Polotmavy Lezak is probably the best fit. As the name suggests, not exactly a German style. Those few hundred metres from the station have given me a thirst (walking downstairs in the morning gives me a thirst). The first half of my half litre has disappeared before I even have time to think about sniffing it, swirling it around my gob and trying to pick some words to describe it.

I go in search of the words while I drink the second half of the half. Caramel, mint, pepper - I've used all of those before, haven't I? Lovely hop character. That spicy, peppery thing that German hops do so well and I describe so poorly. Perfect for a pre-noon pissup. The whole half litre disappears in a few minutes. The waitress shows no surprise when I order a second. She probably thinks I'm a lightweight. I am, in every sense, compared to my drinking companions. I'd show you photos, but, you know, they aren't the sort of blokes you snap without asking.

Bags dumped, lunch is on the agenda. True to tradition, it's in Schlenkerla. For a couple of reasons. Firstly it's, er, tradition. Secondly, I fancy some scrunchy pork crackling goodness. Thirdly, there's that exquisite beer, darkly brooding, splashing happily as it escapes the wooden cask. Smoky bacon. That's all the description you're getting. You know what it tastes like. Why let my incompetence taint your memory?

I've read a lot about the gruffness of the waitresses ay Schlenkerla recently. Can't say I've ever noticed it, myself. Sure, they aren't as chatty and friendly as those in quiet country pubs. But this is a busy town pub. And they're busy girls. I'd rather they get on with their job and bring me beer pronto than they pretend I'm their long-lost friend. My waitress does exactly what I hoped. A new beer appears soon after the final drops have been sucked from the last. And the crackling porky goodness appears on cue.

Have I mentioned how hot it is? I'm wearing shorts, it's so hot. The posh ones I bought in Target last year. Not had much chance to wear them since. Their black colour highlights the paleness of my legs. Pale except for those funny blue veiny things. A bit like Stilton cheese, my legs. Though not quite as appetising.

I've not been to Klosterbräu in a while, so I mosey over there. Have I mentioned how hot it is? It's so hot that I sit inside, where it's cooler. It's a charming room, if you like that folksy Bavarian type of thing. I do. Especially when the woodwork is stained with age and the seats have been sanded by the arses of generations. It's between meal shifts and the waitresses are eating, chatting and wrapping cutlery in serviettes. Very homely. As are the waitresses, motherly matrons in aprons, smiling and laughing. One of them brings me a Schwärzla.

Klosterbräu's beers are funny things. I adore their Maibock: a worty, spicy powerhouse. Braunbier (another unclassifiable) and Schwärzla are subtle symphonies in bottled form. Yet draught in the brewery they tap they almost always diappoint. Way too much CO2 blankets and muffles the delicate malt flavours, making them bland. It's the same story again today. I wish they'd get their act together.

When I visited Bamberg more than a decade ago, I wondered why there were so few tourists in such a beautiful town. Now I just wish most of them would fuck off. Groups of baffled oldies stumble behind their guides. They're from cruise ships. The ones that cruise Europe's rivers. I wonder if they know where they are? Well, other than in Germany. Though for all I know, they may think they're already in Austria.

There are quite a few in Zum Sternla. Tourists, I mean. But they're quiet and discrete. I'll let them live. For the first time in days my waitress is under 50. Almost under 20 this one, truth be told. Watching her walk to and fro is a nice distraction from the heat. Did I mention how hot it is? She brings me a half litre of Mahr's Ungespündet and throws in a smile for free. I almost forget the heat. Especially while the yeastily spicy Mahr's is gurgling down my throat. Emptying it is a good excuse to catch the waitress's eye again.

Not having been there in years I drop by Hofbräu. Thoughts of eating evaporate when I see the prices. They're having a larf, aren't they? This isn't Tokyo. I'm sitting outside. It's a little cooler now, but I still require some internal cooling. I order a half litre Zirndorfer Hell. Actually 0.4l. Cheeky bastards. Pulling the small glass trick. I don't think I'll be coming back soon. Though the Zirndorfer is pretty good.

Zebedee time.

Brauerei Fässla
Obere Königsstraße 19-21,
96052 Bamberg.
Tel. 0951 - 26516
Fax: 0951 - 201989

Dominikanerstrasse 6,
96049 Bamberg.
Tel. 0951 - 56060
Fax 0951 - 54019

Klosterbräu Bamberg
Obere Mühlbrücke 1-3,
96049 Bamberg.
Tel. 0951 - 57722
Fax 0951 - 59294

Zum Sternla
Lange Straße 46,
96047 Bamberg.
Tel. 0951 - 28750
Fax 0951 - 2084340

Gaststätte Hofbräu
Karolinenstraße 7,
96049 Bamberg.
Tel. 0951 - 53321
Fax: 0951 - 5190258


Rod said...

Didn't fancy the climb up tp Greifenklau in the heat then, Ron? I shall be in Franken for 2 weeks soon, and your posts, as ever, are truly whetting my thirst.

Ron Pattinson said...

Rod, no chance. If I liked their beer more, I might have bothered.

Bryan the BeerViking said...

I'm intrigued that you went to Fässla but not across the road to Spezial. We preferred both the beer and the food in the latter when we were in town last year.

Mark Andersen said...

I also like the food and beer at Spezial better but I prefer the atmosphere in Fässla. They can get a bit uppity in Spezial. You can't order a beer from the window and drink in the Schwemme. I once went in there on a late morning for a beer while my laundry was drying next door and got scolded for touching the newspaper that was left on the table. Apparently unless you are a overnight guest at Spezial you're not allowed to read the newspapers. Odd thing is I was the only person in the room.

Fässla is just easier when you want a quick beer or two and you don't want a waitress glaring at you in a judgemental manner because you're obviously a lush for having a beer at 11am.

Bryan the BeerViking said...

I don't recall any scoldings or uppityness, mind you we may have had an easy ride because the waitresses were charmed by our little boy who was investigating the pubbles and cobblestones in the yard.

Anonymous said...

Sir I really enjoyed your article. Informative and funny! As for Bamberg's beers, been there, drank some! Talk about variety! To my mann und I German beer is the best in the world! Prost!