John Conen's Top Picks
John Conen has been a member of Britain's Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) for over 35 years, but also maintains a strong interest in the traditional beers of Germany. He has been visiting Bamberg for nearly thirty years and has written a number of editions of his guide to the beers and breweries of the region. John has given us his seven favorite Franconian Beers.
Felsenkeller from Brauerei Hartmann in Würgau is a most unusual beer for this area, let alone Germany. It is brewed with Whisky malt and has a very smokey aroma and a dry finish.
Huppendorfer Vollbier from Brauerei Grasser in Huppendorf, in the chalk landscape of "Franconian Switzerland." This medium dark beer is crisp and hoppy, with plenty of malt and a dry finish. 5% ABV.
Mönchsambacher Lager from Brauerei Zehendner in Mönchsambach is a good example of the beers of the Steigerwald region (sandstone) and is a complete contrast to the Huppendorfer beer. Soft brewing water may be one reason but this is also unfiltered and has lots of residual malt sweetness balanced by very generous hopping. A real mouthful! 5.5% ABV
Schlenkerla Rauchbier. from Brauerei Heller-Trum (but most people know it as Schlenkerela) in Bamberg. Ignore people who knock this beer by saying it's tourist beer or claim that the locals don't like it - it's brilliant and I find it surprisingly refreshing on a hot day.
Kellerbier from Brauerei Müller in Reundorf. The Schmausenkeller is a wonderful Keller (beergarden) a mile or so from the village of Reundorf, south of Bamberg. Here the beer is still lagered in hillside caves just as it has been for centuries - this is probably the only local brewery that still does this. Like the Mönsambacher beer the Müller Kellerbier is packed with hops and costs only 1.50 Euros a half-litre!
Heinrichsbier from Mahrs Bräu in Bamberg. Mahrs did well with this commemorative brew to celebrate the 1000th anniversary of the crowning of Bamberg's founder, emperor Heinrich and his queen Kunigunde. A great spicy lagerbier as only Franconian brewers can brew.
Maisel Kellerbier. Brauerei Maisel in Bamberg. This brewery tap is a bit out of the way in Bamberg's industrial area north of the railway, but it is well worth a visit, particularly in fine weather when you can enjoy the garden, good Kellerbier and reasonably priced good-quality food.