We left Dresden a day early and headed to Nurnberg to meet some friends of Ann’s, our travel companion, but on the way, we stopped at Bamberg for lunch and some smoked beer at the Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier.

Bamberg, Germany

Many myths have arisen regarding the origins of smoked beer but according to the brewery the Sumerians and Babylonians already knew of the art of brewing beer which was then later perfected by the German tribes in Roman times. The basic process in those days was similar to the one today - apart from the technical instruments. Green malt always had to be dried, “kilned” as brewers call it. In the past, besides the usage of sun rays, which was quite difficult in Middle and Northern Europe, there was only one way of kilning: Drying the grain over an open fire. Thus it was unavoidable that smoke penetrated the malt and gave it a smoky flavor.

Technical developments over the centuries made it possible to dry malt indirectly without open fire and thus without smoky taste. As this new technology was cheaper and usable for mass production, almost all of the old smoke kilns vanished. Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier has preserved the old craft tradition of smoking the malt in Bamberg until today.

Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comforts of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things. -air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky. -all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.

Cesare Pavese

The Rauchbier was delicious and we had just enough time to take a few pictures, especially of the beautiful Rathaus. The Bamberg town hall was built around 1467 on the river Regnitz. Originally influenced by Gothic, the building received Baroque and Rococo touches from Johann Jakob Michael Küchel in 1756. Anwar Johann painted the murals on the exterior walls. Traditional German fachwerk (timber frame) juts out over the river.

The building was placed on an artificial island, supposedly because the bishop didn’t want to relinquish any land. An armed conflict between the mayor and the bishop ended with an agreement that the citizens couldn’t rebuild their burned-down city hall on land. Tall arched bridges connect the island on either side to this city center on a river.

Bamberg, Germany