Sunday, 3 June 2018

Klosterbräu - Bamberg

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.


Russtovich said...

"It is perhaps surprising that despite the obvious age of the building, there was no brewery tap until 1998. "

Agreed. A bit surprising indeed.

"Apart from an American couple who popped in looking for smoked beer, "

Not surprising considering it's Bamberg. :)

I have two bottles of a smoked ale from Quebec currently cooling in my beer fridge. They're not that easy to get over here. Looking forward to how they taste.*

"Like Greifenklau, Klosterbräu comes highly recommended, "

So noted. :)


* I just realised I have a smoked Helles as well in my fridge, from a micro brewery less than 30 miles from me. It was in a 12 pack that was a collaboration of 12 small breweries, one from each, all different. If it tastes good I'll have to take my growler down there (64oz jug) and pick some up over the summer. :)

Dave said...

Interesting it has been sold. We were there last November and the hours had changed dramatically. I wondered what was up. Kaiserdom has never seemed to get positive reviews for beer though? Am I correct in this? I always read it was the weakest of the Bamberg breweries.

Paul Bailey said...

Hi Russ, glad to see there were no typos this time round.

A smoked Helles sounds interesting, and if it’s good, it would be well worth making the 60 mile round trip. The term “growler” always amuses me; I have images of this container sitting in the corner growling at people, as if to say don’t come near me, and keep your hands off my beer!

Dave, given the number of visits I’ve now made to Bamberg, I’m surprised never to have seen Kaiserdom beers on sale in the city. I’m also including bottled beers in the supermarkets in this as well. For an outfit which claims to be the largest brewery in Bamberg, they’re not very good at promoting themselves. Maybe the locals aren’t keen on their beers?

With this in mind, I sincerely trust they leave Klosterbräu alone, as the temptation must be to close the latter and transfer production to Kaiserdom’s much larger plant.

Mark Andersen said...

Nice to hear they are still brewing on site. I wondered about that. Looking forward to visiting in a few weeks. Nice report!

Russtovich said...

"The term “growler” always amuses me; "

You'll love the term for the smaller jug (32oz vice 64oz). Around here it's known as a "squealer". (LOL)


Syd Differential said...

Russ - I think you may also be amused by the other meaning of growler ...

Russtovich said...

"Russ - I think you may also be amused by the other meaning of growler ..."

I looked it up. I'm beginning to think over half the words in the English language can be used in place of that proper word. :)


* - I'm guessing 'squealer' could imply something, um, less unkempt. :)

Martin Taylor said...

If the purpose of a blog post is to persuade the reader to visit, you've succeeded with this series, Paul.

Must book while Nuremberg flight prices cheap.

I really like the way you can rely on getting the same beer years later in Germany. Not for them this obsession with ever changing choice in the same pub; in Bamberg you get choice by walking to the next pub.

Paul Bailey said...

Glad to hear you are enjoying the series, Martin. There ae still a few more posts to come.

Bamberg certainly delivers continuity and certainty, in that you know what you are getting. The same used to apply in the UK, and the knowledge that you could only obtain certain beers, in specific areas, was one of the joys of travelling round Britain.

I’ve been following the brewing industry for the past 45 years, but gave up a few years ago on trying to keep track on all the new beers and breweries which have come on the scene. Whilst I’m by no means averse to sampling new beers, the sight of something on the bar that I’ve never heard of, when I walk into a new, or even a familiar pub, is becoming increasingly common.