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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bamberg Day 1 -- to Herrnsdorf and Back

There has been some recent discussion on the Franconia Beer Guide message board about Brauerei Barnikel in Herrnsdorf. I realized I hadn't been there for a while so I thought that would be a good first day ride.

I took off down the Regnitz bike path do Hirschaid, home of Brauerei Kraus. But they are closed on Tuesdays so no beer for me there. I then headed west up Ebrach valley to the village of Röbersdorf, home of Brauerei Weber.

Brauerei Weber, Röbersdorf
 They had three beers on draft, a Hell, Dunkel and Rauchbier. I started with the Helles Lagerbier

Weber Lagerbier
 I had ridden about 10 miles at this point so it tasted pretty good. After the first few sips (ok, gulps) I did notice a slight grainy astringency but it wasn't objectionable at all. I needed some food as well, but since it was 2pm they only had cold food. I ordered the Hausteller ("House platter") which usually is a selection of sliced meats and cheese with bread. This one was all meat.

Lunch -- the "House Platter"
 The brewery tap has been recently (i.e. within the past 30 years) remodeled but they kept the flavor of a tradional gasthaus with lots of wood.

The bar at Weber
 Before I was done with the Hausteller I had run out of beer so I ordered the Rauchbier. There was just a touch of smoke in it -- enough to notice it but not so much to scare you away if one didn't like smoke beer. It was cleaner that the Hell and more drinkable.

Weber Rauchbier
Since I had a ways to go yet, I didn't try the Dunkel -- maybe next trip.

A few miles down the road is Herrnsdorf, home of Brauerei Barnikel. They claim the brewery has been run by the same family since the early 1300's. I think have been a few liberties with the idea of "family" over the years, but it still is quite an impressive run.

Brauerei Barnikel, Herrnsdorf

 They only had their Lagerbier on draft, so I had one.

Barnikel Lagerbier
There was a butterscotch note to the beer (caused by diacetyl, a fermentation byproduct). This is often caused by not lagering (cold conditioning) the beer long enough. It wasn't strong enough to make the beer undrinkable, but I couldn't drink too many of them.  

Since that was the only draft beer and I still had to ride home, I got a bottle of the Rauchbier to go.

Bottle of Barnikel Rauchbier for later
Over the door they have this great sign

I love this sign "Last brewery before the Autobahn"
 So I started back towards Bamberg. When I reached the Regnitz I decide to ride back up the other (west) bank. This took me thru Pettstadt where there is a lovely little bierkeller, Schauder's Keller.

Schrauders Keller, Pettstadt

 They serve Löwenbräu Buttheim kellerbier. Since somebody invariable asks, no they do not have any connection with the more famous Löwenbräu of Munich. There are four or five breweries in Franconia  alone that use the name "Löwenbräu."

 Löwenbräu Buttenheim kellerbier from the barrel
 This is a very rustic and traditional bierkeller.  It sort of gives you a "summer camp" vibe -- only with great beer.

The beer stand
 I had two beers and could have had a couple of more, but it still was a ways back to Bamberg -- and I had felt some sprinkles so I wanted to get back before it started raining.

With this route you ride thru the "Hain" district of Bamberg, which basically is a forest park. Along the  way is the Bootshaus, the "Boat House" for the local rowing club. There also is a nice beer garden that is open during the warmer months. I needed to make a pit stop so I stopped for a beer. There is a lovely view of the Regnitz river.

View from the Bootshaus, Bamberg
 They have beers from Brauerei Kundmüller in Weiher which is just to the west of Bamberg. They had the kellerbier on draft (Kundmüller also does a nice Rauchbier)

They serve Kundmüller Lagerview from Weiher
 While I was drinking my beer, an 8 person scull came buy. It was some sort of training or class because a few of the people were clearly out of sync, but it was fun to watch anyway.
The kind of boats you find at the "Boat House"

As I got back into Bamberg proper I passed very close to Klosterbräu when I realized it was May and their Maibock would be served. In the past this has been one of my favorite beers. Sometime it is so good and drinkable you have three or four and only when you get up do you realize it is nearly 8%

They did have the Maibock. While it was good, it wasn't up to the high expectations I had from previous years. It may also have been that it was the end of a long day.

Klosterbräu Maibock

It is Spargel season (white asparagus) and they had a special Spargel menu. I started with the soup, which was very good.

Spargel Soup

I followed this up with a Schnitzel and Spargel combo -- Schnitzel, Spargel and Beer -- three of the most important food groups.

Schnitzel and Spargel
I was soon back at the apartment. It was a little over 30 miles, mostly flat but a few hills along the way. A good first day riding.

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