A Beer-y Bamberg Travel Guide

We were only in Bamberg for two days (one night) and I can’t imagine needing to spend much longer in this small, brewery packed, town. It’s a beautiful city and one of the few left untouched by wars in Germany (it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site). Beyond the typical sights of the ornate church, quirky town hall, and old town square there are plenty of beer-y things to do. These were my favorite stops we made in Bamberg.

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Klosterbräu

This was a fitting first stop in Bamberg because it is also the oldest brewery in the city. It gave an immediate sense of how much Bamberg values tradition and drinking culture. On a sunny Saturday on the back patio under massive branded umbrellas there were several tables of locals enjoying a snack and a pint, a long table filled with older men clanking ceramic beer steins all wearing the same shirt (adorable), and one other table of tourists. 

Opt for the braunbier and the kellerbier if they’re available (at €3 a pop you can afford to try the whole menu!) and enjoy the views over the water. I didn’t try the food here but it appears to be very typical German fare. There are also tours that need to be booked in advanced.

Steins of kellerbier

Steins of kellerbier

The back patio of Klosterbräu from across the water

The back patio of Klosterbräu from across the water

Schlenkerla

Of course, you can’t talk about Bamberg without talking about Schlenkerla...so I won’t! First thing to note, there is a restaurant around the corner, Kachelofen from Schlenkerla that does a very good job masquerading as the real deal. While it’s not a bad spot (we enjoyed a rauchbier and a few kellerbiers on the patio) it’s something to note. 

Schlenkerla is gigantic and almost cavernous (at least to this NYC resident). Each room has its own charm (a full description of the rooms is available on the brewery website) and the beer garden looked like the quintessential place to enjoy a rauchbier. It was closed when we visited. The good news is with all that space in a small city it’s unlikely that you’ll feel crowded at Schlenkerla so it’s a great place to post up for a smokey beer and some German food (a match made in pork heaven!). 

We were lucky enough to visit when the “Krausenbier” was in season and I can’t recommend it enough. In fact, I did recommend it to an entire tour group that was a little unsure about the whole smoked beer thing. It’s the perfect way to enjoy the style without being overwhelmed, or to ease into the real deal.

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Ambräusianum

Next door to Schlenkerla is a tiny brewery making their own weissbier and fresh white weisswurst. The atmosphere is a little more sunny and airy than Schlenkerla which made for a nice lunchtime setting. You can sit right next to their brew house and snack on pretzels sausage and some housemate beer! Worth a stop to take a break from rauchbier. 

Dunklesweiss beer at lunch

Dunklesweiss beer at lunch

My first pretzel in Germany!

My first pretzel in Germany!

Weyermann

One thing I didn’t get to do while in Bamberg that I really wanted to was tour the malting facilities at Weyermann. They have a public tour every Wednesday at 2pm but I just couldn’t get the days of our trip to line up. If you have a group of 8+ you can book a private tour any weekday. In the few emails I had back and forth with staff they were extremely helpful! I think with enough advanced planning you could book a smaller tour or tag along on an existing tour. Definitely something to look into if you want to geek out on how German beer is really made!

The Views of Bamberg

Castle Altenberg/Restaurant Altenberg 

We were in Bamberg during an uncharacteristic heatwave for Germany (my friend in Berlin said stores completely sold out of fans) so we skipped the 30 minute walk from old town through the city and up the hill that Castle Altenberg sits on. If it were even a bit cooler I would have taken the hike because it takes you past all the major Bamberg landmarks and up a very scenic hill. You can drive almost to the castle and just the five-ish minute trek from our car was more than enough 92 degree sunshine for us. When we looked over the ledge of the castle we realized the sweat was worth it.

You can see the whole city of Bamberg tucked in the valley and there’s a clear shot all the way to the horizon. The restaurant has a to-go window outside for both beer and food. It would be a great spot to eat inside and enjoy the view but the air conditioning left something to be desired so we enjoyed steins of the local helles in the shade instead.

One view from the top of the hill

One view from the top of the hill

A helles with a side of castle.

A helles with a side of castle.

The Rose Garden 

If you’re crunched for time (or just don’t feel like adding a hike to your vaycay) the rose garden next to the Dom (look up Rosengarten) also offers stunning views of the city, a little more up close and personal. Adding hundreds of beautifully maintained roses to the view and its totally worth the stop. If you go when the cafe is open you can also enjoy a beer or lunch in the garden.

The Bamberg rose garden is tucked just out of sight, look for it on your map!

The Bamberg rose garden is tucked just out of sight, look for it on your map!

The view from the “rosengarten”

The view from the “rosengarten”

Where to Stay 

Try to stay as close to old town as you can. It’s the most picturesque and the hotel prices are similar to the rest of the city. We stayed at the Hotel Villa Geyerswörth and loved it. I will say in the middle of a heatwave Europe’s lack of strong air conditioning and ice were apparent. The breakfast spread at our hotel was insane, meats, cheeses, bread with all the spreads for days! 

We also had breakfast at Eckerts part of the Hotel Nepomuk and I would suggest looking into that hotel as well it’s situated right on the canal and the restaurant was large and had great food, plus next door to Klausterbrau is hard to beat! 

There is a brewery, Fässla, that offers lodging and I would have stayed there in a heartbeat if they weren’t booked. It reminded me of the set up at St. Bernardus which was one of my favorite beer-trip hotels ever! We did get to try some of their beer while out and about in Bamberg, would be so fun to stay there!

Zwanze Day: What is it anyway?

This Saturday is a special holiday for beer lovers around the world. If you're not into sour beer (yet!) you may have never heard of Zwanze Day. Trust me, it's worth all the hype you are seeing in your twitter or instagram feed. Plus, there is still time to make plans to go to an event that doesn't require tickets! So here's everything you need to know about  Zwanze. 

A Zwanze Day Explainer 

The world-famous lambic brewery, Cantillon, created the celebrated and cherished series of beers called Zwanze in 2008. The series was (and still is) a creation of brewer John Van Roy that allowed him to release an experimental, limited quantity beer.  

A barrel at Cantillon from my visit to Belgium in 2017.

A barrel at Cantillon from my visit to Belgium in 2017.

From 2008 to 2010 Zwanze beers were released under cover to various undisclosed locations and very, very lucky drinkers. In 2011, the world-wide release party known as Zwanze Day was born. 

The toast and party holiday was created for many reasons, the first was to help dedicated lovers of spontaneous-fermented beer find these special brews and the second was to combat resellers. Van Roy said he was informed of Zwanze being sold on eBay for 600% mark ups. 

The 2011 world-wide Zwanze release party had 22 locations. In 2017 Zwanze Day locations have tripled to include 66 worldwide. 

The last special thing about Zwanze Day is that event goers are bonded together in a world-wide simultaneous toast! Bartenders and owners tap their kegs of the special Zwanze blend at the exact same time no matter the time zone. So when you're feeling excited as the beer is passed around - know that their are beer lovers all over the world that feel the exact same way. 

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Zwanze Day 2017

The 2017 Zwanze will be a lambic, tea blend inspired by John Van Roy's son's love of iced tea. The label art is inspired by another of his son's loves - Game of Thrones. And c'mon how cool is this label?! 

My favorite part of the 2017 Zwanze announcement post was Jon Van Roy's care to explain what Game of Thrones would be like in Cantillon's world, "But in our version, no one dies and everyone has a good beer!"

via Brasserie Cantillon's  Facebook page .

via Brasserie Cantillon's Facebook page.

As awesome as this label art is my favorite Cantillon Zwanze Day 2017 graphic comes from a brewery just outside of Austin, Texas, Jester King. They make a shirt for their event each year and 2017 is so funny to me. Below is their Instagram post with the shirt art. 

This year, NYC is lucky to snag two coveted spots on the Zwanze lineup both Fool's Gold and Spuyten Duyvil will host events. (Full list of locations below.) I'll be at Fool's Gold bright and early so let me know if you'll be there too! 

List of 2017 Zwanze Day Locations 

Note: Some of these events require tickets so check with the venue before making plans.

AUSTRALIA
- NOLA -- Adelaïde
- Bitter Phew -- Sydney

AUSTRIA
- Tribaun -- Innsbruck

BELGIUM
- Moeder Lambic Fontainas -- Brussels
- Moeder Lambic Saint-Gilles -- Brussels
- Mi-Orge Mi-Houblon – Arlon
- Rose Red -- Brugge

CANADA
- Dieu du Ciel -- Montréal, Québec
- Birreria Volo -- Toronto, Ontario
- Bells and Whistles – Vacouver, British Columbia

DENMARK
- Himmeriget -- Copenhagen

FRANCE
- La Fine Mousse -- Paris
- La Capsule -- Lille
- Brasserie du Mont-Salève – Neydens
- Au Poêle de la Bête -- Toulouse

FINLAND
- Stadin Panimo Baari – Helsinki

GERMANY
- Café Herman – Berlin
- Mon Petit Café -- Stuttgard

GREAT BRITAIN
- Kernel Brewery – Bermondsey
- Beermerchants@Unit 101 -- Manchester
- Six° North – Aberdeen
- Moor Beer -- Bristol

ITALIE
- Ma Che Siete Venuti A Fà -- Rome
- The Dome -- Nembro
- LambicZoon -- Milano
- The Drunken Duck -- Quinto Vicentino
- Ristopub Margherita -- Quartu Sant’Elena
- Ottavonano -- Atripalda
- TryBeer Room – Castiglione d’Adda

JAPAN
- Dolphins Ueda – Osaka
- Lembeek – Nagoya
- Favori -- Tokyo

NEDERLAND
- De Bierkoning -- Amsterdam

NEW-ZEALAND
- Garage Project – Wellington
NORWAY
- Camera Storyline -- Oslo

SPAIN
- Masia Agullons -- Sant Joan de Mediona

SWEDEN
- Ölrepubliken -- Göteborg

SWITZERLAND
- Bière Café Au Trappiste -- Bern

USA
– Anchorage Brewing Company — Anchorage, Alaska
– Armsby Abbey — Worcester, Massachusetts
– Avenue Pub — New Orleans, Louisiana
– Bagby Beer — Oceanside, California
– Beachwood BBQ — Seal Beach, California
– Crooked Stave Barrel Cellar — Denver, Colorado
– De Garde Brewing — Tillamook, Oregon
– Fools Gold NY — Manhattan, New York
– Green Bench Brewing — St. Petersburg, Florida
– Holy Grale — Louisville, Kentucky
– Jester King Brewery — Austin, Texas
– Jolly Pumpkin Brewery — Dexter, Michigan
– Laser Wolf — Fort Lauderdale, Florida
– Mikkeller Bar SF — San Fransisco, California
– Monk’s Cafe — Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
– Novare Res Bier Café — Portland, Maine
– The Porter Beer Bar — Atlanta, Georgia
– REAL a gastropub — Honolulu, Hawaii
– Russian River Brewing — Santa Rosa, California
– Schera’s Restaurant and Bar — Elkader, Iowa
– Seymour, the pub — Greenfield, Massachusetts
– Side Project Brewing Cellar — Maplewood, Missouri
– Slow Boat Tavern — Seattle, Washington
– The Sovereign — Washington D.C.
– Spuyten Duyvil — Brooklyn, New York
– Thin Man Brewery — Buffalo, New-York
– Trillium Brewing Company — Canton, Massachusetts
– West Lakeview Liquors — Chicago, Illinois

Find a location, don't let the long lines get to you, and raise your glass with beer appreciators the world round. 

Cheers! 

Perfect Beer Pairings for Chocolate Chip Cookies

The chocolate chip cookie is a dessert standard. They'll hold up on the trip to the office or potluck, they're a crowd pleaser, and hey they aren't all that hard to make!

In fact, I have my favorite super easy recipe for a small batch of chocolate chip cookies right here.

But if you really want to bring the party, don't offer cookies alone! Bring a beer pairing along with you. Pairings not only make your favorite foods taste just a littttle better, they are also fun to try because they work for everyone a little differently.

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If Dessert Is Feeling A Little Heavy, Try a Weizenbock Or Belgian Dubble

Suggested beers: Schneider Weisse Aventinus and Westmalle Dubble

Weizenbock and Belgian Dubble styles both feature some wonderful stone fruit flavors that lend a richness to the pallet, but their body and carbonation are a lighter than other dark beer counterparts. You'll notice more of the brown sugar sweetness in your cookie that pairs beautifully with the breadcrust flavors in these darker ales.

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If You're Looking for the Perfect Nightcap + Dessert Combo, Try A Belgian Quad

Suggested Beer: Rochefort 10

My favorite pairing with chocolate chip cookies is the Belgian Quad. This style is sweet and rich and boozy. The dark fruit flavors of fig and dried cherries bring out the vanilla in the cookies for an indulgent dessert experience. This style tends to be more than ten percent alcohol making it the perfect way to end a dinner, or a night in!

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If You're Feeling a Little Crazy, Try a Brett Ale

Suggested Beer: Allagash Little Brett

This pairing is not going to give you the classic dessert flavors you may expect, but it will wake you and your pallet up a little. I imagine the perfect place for this pairing is eating chocolate chip cookies outside at a summer picnic. Instead of pulling out deeper sugar and chocolate flavors from the cookie, the funky Brett flavors and high carbonation effectively wipe the heavy sweetness from your pallet. This experience instantly makes dessert feel lighter and let's you get your sugar fix without needing a nap.

What?! No Stout?

I know, I know you were expecting to see a stout! Stouts are definitely a good pair with chocolate chip cookies the light roast flavors compliment the sweetness in the cookie without overpowering it. Semisweet chocolate also stands up to that roast, which make the semi-sweet flavor shine on your pallet. But come on, everyone pairs chocolate chip cookies with Left Hand Milk Stout, I wasn't going to do that to you!

Ok...so what did I miss? Or what did you think? Anything you absolutely have to eat your cookies with?

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Raise a Toast with Beer Instead of Champagne

I feel so lucky because at least two or three times a month, I have something to celebrate. A birthday at work, an engagement of a friend, a holiday toast. As people would say, "What better for a toast than a glass of bubbly?!" To which I say, "BEER!" The worst feeling is deciding if you should get three bottles of crappy champagne or one bottle of nice champagne. Well, no more my friends.

A few other great things about subbing out beer for champagne:

  • Less sugar. Guess what, less sugar leads to less of a hangover. So you can celebrate tonight and not regret it tomorrow.

  • Plenty of bubbles. All of these beers are highly carbonated and some of them even come with a cork. I know you don't want to miss out on that cork pop.

  • It's cheap. A top-of-the-line beer is going to run you $9-$20 aka the same price as an ok bottle of champagne.

  • Get your buzz on. If you're looking to party and you're worried beer won't get you there, don't fret! All of these beers have abv comparable to that of champagne.

  • It's out of the ordinary. Most people haven't tried the high-quality, golden, bubbly champagne-like beers that exist out in the world. If you bring along a sparkling beer, not only will everyone enjoy what they're drinking, they'll also get to try something new!

Some of my favorite champagne substitutes: 

  • Duvel (Belgian Golden Strong)
    Beautiful beer with tons of bubbles and widely available. I popped one right after getting engaged.

  • DueS (Brut Des Flanders)
    Yep, it's called "champagne beer" and comes with champagne flutes in some stores, so it's a pretty spot on substitute.

  • Tripel Karmalite (Belgian Tripel)
    A brilliant golden beer with a rocky white head and the scent of a floral bouquet with a few pine cones...TELL ME you don't want to welcome the new year with this?!

  • Saison Brett (Brettanomyces Fermented Saison)
    Are you a little adventurous? This beer has familiar crisp apple and light pear flavors that are accented with Brett's famous "sweat horse blanket" funk.

  • Tank 7 (Farmhouse Saison)
    My favorite "starter beer" for those that confidently proclaim, "I just don't like beer." It is a total crowd pleaser, perfect for a toast. Sweet, highly-carbonated with a dry clean finish...cheers!

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