Wednesday 15th May 2013
The Wilde Rose brewery is no longer in existence, yet its biergarten and beers live on. The brewery was once in Kesslerstrasse which is in the Grüner Markt area, right in the centre of the city and dates from 1760. The adjacent Hotel-Gasthof Wilde Rose was completely destroyed by a bomb in World War 2 and did not reopen until 1953, with the brewery at the same time. It finally stopped brewing beer in 1971.
The Gasthof lives on; serving Wilde Rose beers. For more details of these please see below. As an interested aside, there was a very small brewery in the city during the early 2000s known as Robesbierre, and it is said their beers were brewed in the cellar of the Gasthof.
The keller of Wilde Rose, where beer was stored throughout the summer months, is to be found on the Stephansberg hill to the south of the city. This is the site that I and a number of the sociable members of the Brewery History Society decanted ourselves to after a heavy day of brewery visiting.
On the way up the rather steep Obere Stephansberg I noticed some wooden steps rising from the left side of the road. I'm sure that in the long distant past I have used these to gain access to a biergarten.
Whether it was Wilde Rose or the Spezial-Keller, or both, I cannot remember. When I eventually arrived at the present entrance I didn't recognise it, giving some credence to my earlier thoughts.
It is recorded that the keller was established in 1794 by Johann Kauer for cooling and fermenting beer. A significant event occurred in 1850 when the company was taken over by Johann Baptist Leicht, and he improved the keller greatly.
A music hall opened in 1873, followed by a kitchen in 1874. The whole site was lit by electricity from 1885. In 1901 the business was taken over by Josef Häffner and the Gasthof is in the hands of his great granddaughter, the fourth generation. Likewise, the keller is still under family control.
On the occasion of my visit there were six draught beers available. Three were sold under the Wilde Rose title; Kellerbier, Pils (5.2%) and Weizen. I have read on a well-known beer website that the beers come from the Keesmann brewery yet that causes a conundrum as that brewery does not produce Kellerbier or Weizen in its standard range.
Until 2008 all of their beers came from Maisel of Bamberg before that brewery closed. Is it possible they now come from Maisel of Bayreuth? More information on this would be gratefully received.
The other three beers were Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen (5.1%), Keesmann Herren Pils (4.6%) and a Maibock, strength and provenance unknown.
The garden holds 1,500 visitors and food and drink are self service with a €3 deposit on the ceramic krugs. Food consists of Brotzeit type food. This is various cheeses and cold meats with bread. There are also sausages including the Bamberger Bratwürst, virtually unknown outside of the local area. There is often live music played from the restored bandstand.
On this evening a noisy thunderstorm erupted very quickly and, as it was not wise to stay underneath the trees, some of our party including myself decanted to the saloon, for want of a better word. I was surprised how commodious it was; much larger than the two rooms at the Spezial-Keller and that is open all year. In the corner, looking not unlike a visitor from outer space, was a small distillery on which they produce fruit-based brandies.
Wilde Rose Keller, Obere Stephansberg 49, Bamberg, 96049. Tel: 0951 57691
Open: Monday to Friday from 16.00; Saturday, Sunday and holidays from 15.00
The sign outside says it is open from May to September in good weather only.
However this year (2013) it opened on Tuesday 23rd April.
Most visitors walk out from the city but it is all uphill.
However, there is a lifeline at certain times of day in the form of the 928 bus which runs Monday to Friday working days from the ZOB (Central Bus station) via Schranne in the old town to the Obere Stephansberg stop; from there it is possible to walk down to the keller.
The major drawback is that it only runs every forty minutes and the last bus from ZOB is 17.40, returning at 17.58, but at least it will get you uphill, you can walk back!