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Bamberg in Bavaria, Germany, can claim to be one of the world’s beer capitals. If you like a German lager (and especially if you’re one of the people who enjoys the polarising smoky taste of rauchbier, a local specialty), then Bamberg’s world-class lagers are worth a pilgrimage. While you’re there, you’ll be drinking in the medieval alleyways of a UNESCO World Heritage Site often named one of Germany’s most beautiful places. You can’t do all this drinking on an empty stomach, though. Luckily, Bamberg’s brewpubs all have a food line-up that can ascend to the heights reached by the town’s beer. Here’s what to order at each one. Incidentally, reservations are recommended across the board, especially at Christmas time.


The town’s most famous brewery tap, Schlenkerla’s handsome pub sits inside a former monastery from 1310. Probably the most consistently outstanding food of the Bamberg brewpubs, there’s not a bad choice on the menu but you simply must order the Bamberger Zweibel. “Zweibel” is German for onion, but what you’re ordering here is a gigantic heritage onion hollowed out and filled with smoked pork, served in a smoked beer sauce. You really have to see it to believe it. The schweinshaxe (roast pork knuckle) is also incredible.

To drink: The Marzen is the only gravity-dispensed beer still in town, and is probably the classic Bamberg beer.

Dominikanerstraße 6, 96049


Now for a brave statement: Klosterbräu serves Bamberg’s best schäuferla. This dish, a roasted quarter pork shoulder which sits on a shovel-shaped bone (“schaufel” is German for shovel) is emblematic of the Franconia region of northern Bavaria in which Bamberg sits. The quality of Klosterbräu’s schäuferla’s crackling, the skill involved in the roasting, and the intense savoury sauce raises it above the local competition, so if you’re only going to order one, get it in this beautiful 1533 building down a cobblestone backstreet.

To drink: The schwärzla won gold at the 2023 European Beer Awards, a richly deserved award.

Ob. Mühlbrücke 1-3, 96049

Schäuferla at Klosterbräu.

Brauerei Spezial

A better bet for both food and beer than the still pretty good Fäßla over the road, Spezial is smaller and less showy than the others but still has an amazing heritage, and has been open since 1536. If you fancy a break from pork, this is where to take it – the quarter duck breast available here is outstanding. The place fills up extremely quickly, and if you’re lucky you might see a local order a boiled pork knuckle, a sight you won’t soon forget.

To drink: If the Bock is on (usually across autumn and winter), it’s maybe the best beer in Bamberg. Otherwise, the regular rauchbier is truly brilliant.

Ob. Königstraße 10, 96052

Mahrs Bräu

A little way across the river in the more modern part of town sits Mahrs, a haven for those less attracted to the smoky rauchbiers found in the old town. The quality of food in the stunning wood-panelled dining room is high across the board, but I had one of the best steaks I’ve had in Europe at Mahrs. If you don’t go for steak, this is the place to get schnitzel, which at Mahrs comes out larger than the plate, and once in my experience had a second, smaller schnitzel hidden underneath. I think it might also be the only brewpub in town with decent vegetarian and vegan menus.

To drink: The “U” is a wonderful example of an ungespundt, a less heavily carbonated German lager.

Wunderburg 10, 96050


A restaurant, yes, but a fantastic one just round the back of Klosterbräu in an amazing location perched atop the River Regnitz which splits Bamberg in two. It’s listed here because the beer selection offers you a window into the incredible beer heritage in the villages surrounding Bamberg, with a collection of truly outstanding rural brews on the menu. It’s also a superb restaurant in its own right, with a seasonal menu that offers more variation than the traditional Franconian brewpubs. I’ve had a wild boar schnitzel and a venison with rosti here that were both almost worth the trip to Bamberg in their own right. 

To drink: Eckerts has a fantastic rotating tap range of local village breweries, all of which are worth your time.

Ob. Mühlbrücke 9, 96049

Header photograph by Markus Spiske, Pexels.

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