Bamberg’s Famous Smoked Beer

Bamberg RachbierThe town of Bamberg, Germany is adorably and historically German, with twisting cobblestone streets, a historic town hall built on an island in the middle of the city, and nine local beer breweries.

Hitting all nine breweries in one day was a little ambitious, but we made it one-third of them and tasted beer truffles. Not bad for a bunch of married 30-somes and a six-month-old. It was my kind of day trip. Let’s start with the truffles, shall we?

Bold as the claim may be, Bamberg is called the “beer capital” of Bavaria. This isn’t just a big one because Bavaria—a state in a country known for its beer—is huge (Bavaria accounts for approximately 23,000 of Germany’s 137,000 square miles). It’s ambitious because the much larger city of Munich, famous for Oktoberfest, is also in Bavaria.

The beer Bamberg is most famous for is called Rachbier (“smoked beer” in English). Rachbier is made with a distinctive smokey flavor. We started our Bamberg trip with coffee, quiche (for the girls) and pastries (for the guys) at the Cafe am Dom (“Cafe at the Cathedral” in English). We cozied up around an outdoor table at the classy little cafe, kicking off our beer tasting (and starting our breakfast) with the cafe’s special Rauchbier truffles.

As the day progressed, we visited the Dom, a beautiful rose garden, and three great breweries: Schlenkerla, Fässla, and the Brauerei Spezial. Between the four of us (one of whom was our designated driver, so drank only water and soda) we tried eight Bamberg beers.

If we were to attempt Bamber’s breweries again, I think we’d spread them out over two or three days. The beer we tasted were great, but they were also strong in both flavor and alcohol content. We might have enjoyed each beer a little more if we’d had more time in between them.

Our thoughts on Rachbier? We were all glad we tried it, but I’m not sure any of us found a single beer that we’d go out of our way to order if we weren’t in Bamberg. No matter what variety of beer we tried (white, amber, dark) the smokeyness was powerful. Not bad, but definitely a strong flavor.

Have you visited Bamberg or tried German Rachbier? What did you think? I’d love to hear what you thought of the flavor of the beer, and it would be great to know of any specific restaurants or sites you’d recommend if we make it back there during our time overseas!

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  1. I am not a fan of smoked beers. The smokiness always seems to detract or overpower. I have yet to find one suitable for anything other than cooking with – and doubt I’ll go all the way to Bamberg for that 😉 Haha. But, man I’m a little jealous – I’d love to go brewery hopping with you and your family! Maybe someday? 🙂

    • As far as I can remember, these were the first smoked beers I’d tried. I enjoyed tasting them, but just didn’t love any of them. The smoked beer truffles were a lot of fun though! Let’s add brewery hopping together to our respective bucket lists. You never know!

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