Beer Culture

Stories about great beer from the countries that invented it.

Tag: Spezial

Bamberger Zwergla


There’s a lot more to Bamberg than just Rauchbier — the town is said to produce brews in some 50 different styles, including the buzz-worthy U, aka Ungespundetes, an “uncorked” or “unbunged” style of Kellerbier best-known in the versions from Mahr’s and Spezial, as well as very good wheats from places like Kaiserdom. If you’re tempted to take something home with you, the very last chance before you leave town is a small shop in the train station with bottles of Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier as well as one of the local oddballs: Zwergla from Brauerei Fässla.

The Fässla pub was one of my favorites on my first trip to Bamberg, if only for the atmosphere, as I got caught up in conversations with the Stammgäste there. And while Zwergla’s “Lil’ Dwarf” moniker is fairly distinctive, I couldn’t remember ever trying it. Grabbing a bottle in the Bahnhof, I figured I’d check out what I missed and compare it to some beers from back home.

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Bamberger Rauchbier

Continuing with the report from Bamberg, and now on to Rauchbier, the local specialty made with smoked malt. Above is a post-first-sip shot of Spezial’s Rauchbier, shown in the taproom on Obere Königsstraße. In Bamberg itself, there are two main producers: the oh-so-famous Schlenkerla, aka home of Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier, and Brauerei Spezial. (While a few other producers in the larger region also make Rauchbier, I’ll focus on Bamberg for now.) Before I compare the two, I’d like to talk about something else for a second: wine.

Hang on — there’s no need to choke on your Double IPA, bro. This is still Beer Culture, and of course beer and wine have much in common, not the least of which is the fact that they both make life worth living. And just as extreme beers — with more alcohol, more hops, and of course higher prices — have taken off in the past few years, winemakers have gone through their own forms of extremism, producing wines with more alcohol, more oak, more fruit, more malolactic buttery flavors and mouthfeel, and of course ever-higher prices. And not everyone has been happy with the changes.

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A New Prague Brewpub: Pivovar Bašta


Prague is not in bad shape for beer, not by any means. Not only do we have U sadu, U kláštera and a few hundred other great pubs in town, but we also have about a dozen outstanding local beers, including one brewed by college students. Last month we had the Christmas Beer Markets to keep us warm. And now we’ve got a brand new brewpub in Praha 4-Nusle: Pivovar Bašta.

Also known as Sousedský pivovar U Bansethů (something like “neighborhood brewery U Bansethů”), Bašta sits just across from the nuselská radnice, next door to the old U Bansethů pub, a neighborhood stalwart for a century or so and a good source for Pilsner Urquell.

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