Friday 17th May 2013
Located just across the road from Brauerei Keesmann, this delightful pub and its associated brewery have considerable history. The brewery was first established in 1602 on the Stephansberg hill. It moved down to its present location in Wunderburg during 1670. Oberer Stephansberg still has the Mahr's Bräu Keller at No 36 and I wonder if this was the site of the first brewery?
In 1895 the brewery was taken over by Johann Michel and that family, four generations on, are still the owners. The brewery, known as "Zum Brenner" was replaced by the present imposing brick building in 1908 and it is now designated as a historic monument. In 1996 they completed a program of equipment modernisation. In contrast, during 1988 they went back to delivering to some customers by horse and cart. They bought four horses and built stables.
As mentioned earlier this is a wonderful pub so let me give you a guided tour. Entering from Wunderburg, as if you had just left Keesmann, you walk through part of the biergarten, which is here known as the Bräu-Höfla.
The pub has "Wirtschaft" painted on the wall and the best interpretation of this is, not surprisingly, "Public House". Going in the building through stone-framed door we find ourselves in a corridor.
This passage is known as the "Schwemm" (watering hole) and is used by the "Stehgammler" (regular customers who prefer to stand up). There are shelves along the walls and there is an unusual wooden sink with a tap set in a stone surround. This is used to wash glasses by those who have their own personal one that never leaves the pub.
After the entrance door there is a hatch from the serving area on the right. Also, after that there is a door that leads you in to what I regard as the best room in the house. The predominant colour is dark brown as the wooden panelling on the walls goes right up to the ceiling, which is rather low! There are fitted wooden benches around the walls and the tables have scrubbed tops. There are also some loose chairs. On one side is the "Kachelofen", a green-tiled traditional stove that provides heat to the whole building.
This building is extremely old and I have read that it dates from 1670 when the brewery was established at this location. However this fact has not been proven, yet looking around this particular room, it is at least feasible. After all, it is stated that only the brewing buildings were replaced in 1908.
The serving area is on the right of the room and has some wooden screening along with a beautiful copper topped bar.
The beer is dispensed directly from casks and either passed through the hatch to the corridor or given to a waiter to take to a thirsty customer elsewhere in the pub.
Beyond this small room, referred to as the "Gastzimmer", there is another; even smaller one and this is decorated in a similar style.
Further down the corridor there are two more that are grander. The one on the left is the "Brenner" and it has seating for 55 customers. This is more 21st Century than the other with modern light fittings and the tables have cloths and flowers on them.
There is still bench seating around the walls but there is no wooden panelling above this.
The room on the right of the corridor is named as the "Klavierzimmer" (above right) and is more traditional. Here the panelling goes above head height. The same bench seating around the walls and the light is supplied by circular chandeliers. There are small table cloths but no flowers on the tables. The room seats 60 persons. Leaving the building through the large arched wooden door you arrive in another street, Jägerstrasse.
Looking back at the pink-painted building you notice how handsome it is. To the right is the 1908 brick-built brewery. You can see the copper and mash tun through the window. Sadly, this was the only traditional brewery Chris, the intrepid Visits Secretary of the BHS was unable to arrange a visit to, so maybe another time.
I know that there is also Kaiserdom, a large modern brewery and Ambräusianum, a modern brew pub, where you can see the brewery from most of the tables in its pub. BeerVisits has been there, see article.
That leads us neatly on to the beers of Mahr's Bräu. There standard range consists of six all year round with two seasonal beers. However other beers have been seen so they obviously do some specials. Their most well known is Ungespundetes (5.2%), normally abbreviated to A U. It is a Kellerbier and this is the one I judge the others of the style against. It is served directly from a wooden or imitation wooden cask in the pub.
Other beers are Pilsner (4.9), Hell (4.9%) (pale) and Weisse (4.9%) (wheat). There are a further two that only seem to be found on draught outside of Germany and they are Leicht (2.8%) (light low alcohol) and ETA Hoffmann (4.9%) (dark). The latter is a Dunkelbier and was first brewed in 2008 to commemorate the arrival of composer E.T.A. Hoffmann in Bamberg 200 years earlier, he lived there till 1815. The beer proved to be popular and is now part of the permanent selection.
One of the seasonal beers are Weisse Bock (7.2%) which is a wheat bock beer brewed for Lent. It is only available from Ash Wednesday onwards. The other is Weihnacht's Bock (6.8%) (Christmas Bock). This is a normal version of the Bockbier style and is on sale from the end of October to the New Year.
The annual production of Mahr's Bräu is around 25,000 hl. This brewer exports quite a lot to Scandinavia and the United States so you may come across them there. The quality of the beers brewed here is exemplarily and being able to consume them in such a beautiful pub direct from the cask, means that this pub should be a compulsory visit should you be in the city.
Mahr's Bräu, Wunderburg 10, Bamberg, 96050. Tel: 0951 915170
Open: Monday-Sunday 09.00-23.00
Food is offered: Monday-Sunday 11.30-14.00, 17.30-21.30
City bus 905 runs from Bamberg ZOB (Zentral Omnibus Bahnhof – Central Bus Station) to Wunderburg up to 19.00 at mostly a 15 minute frequency. After then it is served by the 936 service with less frequency.
Update October 2017. Hours: Monday: 16.00-23.00; Tuesday to Saturday: 10.00-23.00;