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Home of the world-famous smoked beer

The "Schlenkerla" is certainly the most famous brewery in Bamberg. Its original name goes back to the former brewery owner Andreas Graser: one day, while unloading barrels, the horses trampled him, and he injured himself badly. Because he then swung his arms while walking, he was popularly called Schlenkerla. This mockery name was then transferred to the brewery, so that the actual name "Heller-Bräu" is hardly familiar.

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The ancestral home of the Schlenkerla is located in Sandstraße and has been home to a separate brewery since 1678. Only in 1936 the brewery owner Michael Graser, son of Schlenkerla Andreas Graser, built a brewery at the place of the former beer cellar. This had the advantage that the costly transport from the brewery to the rock cellar and back was eliminated. Since then, the well-known Rauchbier (smoked beer) is brewed on the Stephansberg (the St. Stephan Hill), filled in wooden barrels and stored in the underlying rock cellar.

How does the smoke taste get into the beer?

The secret of the smoked beer is hidden in the used malt. For the production of malt, usually malting barley, grain gets soaked until it germinates. In order to preserve the enzymes contained in the seedlings, the so-called "green malt" is then dried over a heat source. This used to happen over open wood fire, so that the malt was flowed through by the rising smoke, taking on the smoke flavor of the fire.

It can be assumed that, in the past, in our region all the beers had a more or less strong aftertaste of smoke. Only in the early 19th century technical innovations and the introduction of new fuels allowed to separate the smoke from the malt, which is why the taste of smoke was lost. Today, malts are produced in a wide variety of specialized large-scale enterprises, the commercial malting plants. The Schlenkerla brewery, on the other hand, still manufactures its own smoke, using a technique that has been used for centuries.

Author: Dr. Christian Fiedler

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