Saturday, October 18, 2014

Goldring Travel's 2014 Food & Wine River Cruise - AmaWaterways AmaCerto (Amsterdam to Budapest) – Part VII (Bamberg Brewery Tour and Beer Tasting)

After a lazy morning cruising down the Main River, and then just entering the Main-Danube Canal, we stopped in Bamberg,Germany for the 2014 Goldring Travel Food & Wine Brewery Tour and Beer Tasting Event.

This is one town where the docking was not in town and no picturesque, but we are in town for only a few hours.  After a very short drive (but too far to walk) we arrived in a very picturesque town.  We were told that essentially the entire town of Bamburg would be closed since it was a Sunday.  However, this was no ordinary Sunday, but one of only two when the shops are allowed to be open.  So everyone was in Bamburg and the town was extremely lively.  We even had some sun!

Bamburg, Germany 

The canal in Bamburg, Germany
As we walked our private guide began explaining the history of beer in Bamburg, which used to have over 50 breweries, but now has only nine…with its “claim to fame” being smoked beer.  Smoked beer is where the hops is smoked giving the beer a very strong and bitter taste.  (Honestly, the guide said and others confirmed:  Skip the smoked beer.  It tastes bad and will ruin your palate for the good stuff!)

A simple street sign troublingly says a lot:
Jew Street
There were, again, reminders of the Jewish past of this town as there were three different “Jewish areas”; one of them not so subtly called “Judenstrasse” or Jew Street; very near our final destination.  Apparently, the Jews were thrown out of Bamburg two hundred years ago, then invited back to become the preeminent hops traders of the area (which was big money) only to be thrown out again (though you can purchase one of their former beautiful houses…but I don’t think their families will be receiving any profits from those sales.)


Nearby and up the hill are the two remaining beer gardens, which hold many hundreds of people, who would come to picnic and drink beer – which was stored with the winter’s ice in the caverns right below them (hence their location up the hill).

Judenstrasse, Bamburg, Germany

The beautiful Bamburg townhall
While many of the breweries are gone and only two beer gardens remain, Bamburg still produces over 50 different beers…and it was time to see how they are brewed and to taste some.

Klosterbrau, the home of the 2014 Goldring Travel
Food & Wine Tasting and Brewery Tour
(Established 1533)
 
Our guide led us to Kloserbrau, a brewery that dates back to 1533; Bamburg’s oldest. (There is reference to there being a structure on the site 200 years earlier!)  It was owned by many prince bishops, originally known as Prince Bishop’s Brown Beer House, and then a number of private owners until the Braun family purchased it in 1851; it now being run by its fifth generation.


The fifth generation Braun owns and operates the brewery
The brewery’s guide then gave us a very interesting and detailed tour through the brewery where they engage in bottom fermented beers for the most part.  It is a far more complicated and sophisticated process than many of the micro-breweries that are popping up everywhere engage in.  Fascinating!

Our guide gave us a taste of green (unfiltered) beer still being brewed
Green Beer
It was then on to the beer tasting which included four different beers brewed on site: Bamberg Gold-Pils, Braun’s Weisse (Wheat) Beer; Braunbier (a brown beer) and the unanimous favorite of our group, Schwarzla, their dark beer (locally referred to as “Little Black”).
Some of the brewery's offerings in bottles
(The draft versions were what we enjoyed.)
What a good beer tasting looks like when its over!
Unfortunately, we were pressed to make the last bus back to the ship…and we were also a month early as the brewery’s Bock beers were not yet available.  I just might have to come back to Bamburg.