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Saturday, November 01, 2008

Bamberg Notes: Beyond the Beer and Back

Bamberg is rightfully the home of the Franconian Brewery Museum, housed on the grounds of the St. Michael’s Monastery in the former brewery at the impressive site. The Frankisches Brauereimuseum contains an impressive collection of local brewery signage, bottles, advertising, steins, photography and equipment. One interesting spot to visit at the very bottom of the complex is the former icehouse that brewery workers would to fill in the winter so they could lager beer in cool conditions throughout the year. After touring the museum it is worth walking around the back of the massive structure for an amazing view of Bamberg.

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If you are keeping score, we managed to make it to eight of the nine breweries in Bamberg during the two days, only missing Privatbrauerei Kaiserdom. Until recently there was a tenth Bamberg brewery, Maisel Brau, but it is now shuttered.

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Bamberg Tourism & Congress Service has put together a couple of packages for beer lovers traveling through Franconia. For 24 Euro you can purchase a Brewery Trail package that includes a Bamberg backpack, beer stein, coasters from each of the breweries, an informational brochure, postcard and vouchers for five half liter beers (or four beers and admission to the Franconian Brewery Museum. For 153 Euro per person in a double room you get all of the above, two nights in a local hotel, a Bamberg card good for free public transport and admission to a number of museums, a three course dinner and entry to the Franconian Beer Museum. They also can arrange guides for groups or individuals, and I’d highly recommend Stephanie Weiss based on her knowledge of local history and familiarity with Bamberg’s brewers.

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There is a great deal more to do in Bamberg than just brewery hop, but that filled most of our time. We did manage to check out some of the sites along the way and we were most impressed spending a few minutes in the Bamberg Cathedral. Inside the massive four spire church you will find the final resting place of Pope Clement II, the only papal grave in Germany. The art is amazing, including the Bamberger Rider sculpture dating from around 1230, the tomb of Heinrich II and Kunigunde by Tilman Riemenschneider and the wooden Marian Altar carved by Veit Stoss in the 1500s. If you are not into beer, history or art, there is always the butcher shops in Bamberg, which offer an impressive range of sausages.

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