Thursday 11th October 2018
I guess most people reading this will have heard of Volgograd. Many will have been aware of its former name, Stalingrad, and its place in world events. Because of this I will be brief with the history.
Its first known existence was around 1589 or a bit earlier as Tsaritsyn, a name it kept until the 20th Century. In 1925 it was renamed as Stalingrad.
It was to be an important scene in the war between Germany and the USSR, the so called “Eastern Front”. The two armies met at the city on 23rd August 1942 and the German army eventually surrendered on 31st January 1943.
Between these two dates it is estimated that between 1,250,000 and 1,800,000 troops and civilians died. It had the highest number of casualties than any other battle in world history.
It was truly the turning point of the war in Europe and the Germans did not win another battle. A massive statue was constructed just outside of the city as a memorial. It is called “The Motherland Calls” and is built on a hill that was a pivotal part of the battle.
The city was rebuilt and in 1961 it was renamed to Volgograd when references to Stalin were erased in the USSR. It has around a Million population.
Some people have expressed surprise that a German restaurant would do good business in this city. Yet, the Russians have great respect for German food and beer and there are German restaurants in every city in the country. It seems they mentally separate the battle for this city and their perception of German cuisine and brewing. This is way it should be, unlike in some countries that cling to the past for far too long.
We had arrived in Volgograd just after midday on a special train travelling around southern Russia. The other travellers went on sightseeing tour of the city that included climbing a lot of steps at “The Motherland Calls” statue. I doubted that I could manage it so Linda and I didn’t go. However we knew of the existence of Bamberg and the train operators kindly gave us a private car to visit it. Initially I was disappointed about not being able to visit the statue, but as our train departed from the city we had some very good views of it.
As previously mentioned Bamberg is a German brewery restaurant. It opened on 9th December 2008. It’s named after the famous Bavarian brewing city. Although it was a sunny day there were no customers on the outside terrace. Inside we found a labyrinth of a pub. From the entrance we went left. If we had gone right we would have passed the serving counter on the left with the brewing equipment on the right. There were many other rooms.
Apart from the frontage most of the pub is subterranean without windows. There were fake wooden beams on the walls and ceilings with the table and chairs being of dark varnished wood. The walls were covered with old paintings.
At the tops were displays of old brewery trays and other ephemera. There were also stag antler hat racks. Lots of things you would find in a Bavarian pub. It’s a pretty fair attempt but is just too big to pull the illusion off.
The beers all come from a neat little brewery made by the Kaspar Schultz company of Bamberg thus providing a tangible link to the namesake city.
The three original beers form the core of the range offered and they are: Pils (4.0%); Hell-Premium (5.5%) and Schwarz (5.0%). Also to be found available most of the time are: Weizen (wheat) (4.8%); Helles (4.7%); Dunkel (dark) (5.2%) and Spezial (4.3%), a half dark beer.
They offered a tasting flight of six beers. As Spezial was not available the selection chose itself. They were all too gassy and were better appreciated after resting for around ten minutes.
This is what we thought of them. Weizen: very typical of the style, good if you like wheat beers; Dunkel: good dark beer taste with a little bitterness; Schwarz: unfiltered, good body, bit malty but no smoke taste; Hell-Premium: very soft and smooth, sweet with no discernible bitterness; Helles: a typical Munich-style lager, quite sweet and finally Pils: we liked this, although it didn’t have the slight saltiness of a German pils, it was very good. I went on and ordered another half litre of the Pils.
This is quite a progressive brewery and they have a side project, The Bamberg Beer Lab. This encompasses “Craft” beers. Although a much misused and therefore a much-maligned term, “Craft” would be the correct way to describe this range of bottled beers as they emanate from a small brewery rather than a seven million barrel automated plant, as some do.
Bamberg Beer Lab beers come in 0.33l bottles and are as follows: Cherry’P (5.2%), dark cherry beer; Pine Up (3.6%) a light beer flavoured with Pineapple; Sunny Kiss (3.6%) another light beer, this is with Grapefruit and Lime; Submarina (4.5%), light wheat beer; Papa Beer (5.4%), an American Pale Ale; Mr Freedom (3.6%), light lager; Gasitel (5.8%), an IPA; Forward (6.4%), Oatmeal Stout and Granata (4.3%), dark beer with Pomegranate. The bottle labels are in the Latin script.
The food menu is a mixture between German and Russian with sausages to the fore. Some, I suggest, you would not find in Germany. This pub is recommended.
Bamberg/Бамберг, Sovetskaya/Советская, 20, Volgograd/Волгоград. Tel: +7 (8442) 38 84
Hours: Monday-Sunday 11.00-24.00. Brew Pub.
The pub is to be found on the corner of Sovetskaya/Советская and Komsomolskaya/Комсомольская.
I don’t think it is too difficult to get to, about 15 to 20 minutes walk from Volgograd 1 railway station.
About five minutes walk from the pub is a major stop for trams, buses and metro-trams.
This is the Komsomsolskaya/Комсомольская stop.