Well after that longer than intended interlude, we return to Bamberg for a look at another of the city’s pubs. Like the previous example, this one too is a real cracker.
There’s another Bamberg watering hole which is well worth mentioning as well as visiting, and this was where Matt and I headed after leaving Greifenklau. Klosterbräu is the oldest surviving brewery in Bamberg and also one of the smallest. The brewery is located in the Mühlenviertel area, close to the River Regnitz, in a maze of quaint and narrow lanes.
The picturesque brewery, which is one of Bamberg's oldest timber-framed buildings, has been brewing for over 450 years, and can trace its history back to 1333. This is when the premises were first recorded as a brewery. Klosterbräu was named after a nearby Franciscan monastery, and was founded as a "dark beer house" in 1533. Until 1790, the Bierhaus was owned by the Prince-Bishops, who were the city's religious rulers.
The brewery was secularised at the end of the 18th Century and passed into private hands. It has been owned by the Braun family since 1851, but just over a year ago was sold to Kaiserdom, who operate the largest brewery in Bamberg. The annual output is about 4,000 hectoliters.
It is perhaps surprising that despite the obvious age of the building, there was no brewery tap until 1998. The pub, which was created in stages, is just around the corner from the main bulk of the brewery.
The sign Lagerhaus Klosterbräu is painted on the stonework above the ancient wooden door, but ignore this and turn the corner into Concordiastraße, where you will find the pub, plus a couple of areas for outdoor drinking.
The entrance to the pub is though a wide arch, which formerly provided access to the brewery at the rear. There is a room on either side, but the larger room to the right is where the bar counter is situated and is where Matt and I headed that afternoon.
The interior is simply furnished, with dark-wood panelling, a wooden floor and furniture to match. On an overcast day, with the ever present threat of showers, it was the perfect place to sit. Apart from an American couple who popped in looking for smoked beer, we more or less had the place to ourselves. I persuaded the Americans that they ought to stay and enjoy at least one of the Klosterbräu beers, and they heeded my advice.
We ordered a beer each, with me opting for the Kellerbier; a relative newcomer to the Klosterbräu portfolio, whilst Matthew opted for a Gold Pils. The friendly waitress asked if we wanted to eat, but I told her we'd eaten a short while ago. I purchased a bottle of Schwärzla, which is a dark lager, to take home with me, but writing this I'm wondering why I didn't go for a bottle of the seasonal Maibock instead.
Before leaving I needed to use the toilets, which were further along the passageway. On the way back I took a peek inside the brewery, which is situated behind the main bar. As mentioned above, I knew that Klosterbräu had recently been acquired by Kaiserdom, so I wanted to check that brewing was still taking place at the Mühlenviertel site. I am pleased to report that it is, and the brewing process appeared to be in full swing.
It's worth recording that Matt and I visited Klosterbräu on our first to Bamberg in July 2010. On that occasion it was a baking hot day so we sat outside, at some tables (with pub umbrellas), just around the corner. Later on the same trip on a very humid evening, following a thunderstorm with torrential rain, we sat inside and enjoyed an excellent meal of Schnitzel and chips. Gold Pils and Schwärzla were again our tipples of choice, but Klosterbräu also produce an interesting Braunbier, as well as a number of seasonal specials.
Like Greifenklau, Klosterbräu comes highly recommended, and like the former, it takes a bit of finding, despite being in the heart of the city. However, if you want to escape the crowds, and it's food and a friendly welcome you are after, then it's well worth making the effort to find what is probably the most picturesque of Bamberg's many pubs.