Specialty smoked beer

The history of Bamberg smoked beer is almost 1,000 years old. In earlier times, beer had a strong smoky aroma without exception and not only in Bamberg. In the past, it was not possible to dry the malt without smoke. It was not until smoke-free drying technology was introduced in England in the first half of the 19th century that smoked beer became a rarity. From the 1930s, the Bamberg breweries Schlenkerla and Spezial were the only ones to remain true to smoked beer. Both breweries have their own smoke kiln. In this way, they turn the beer into a local specialty according to the old production method.

Matthias Trum, Inhaber der Heller Brauerei Schlenkerla vor dem offenen Feuer der Rauchdarre / © Foto: Georg Berg
Matthias Trum, owner of Heller Brauerei Schlenkerla in front of the open fire of the smoke kiln / © Photo: Georg Berg

How the smoke gets into the beer

The green malt is responsible for the distinctive smoky flavor. In the brewing process, it is dried on the kiln after soaking and germination. It is dried by the hot smoke of an open beechwood fire in the brewery’s own smoke kilns. The smoke penetrates the green malt and in the further brewing process the smoke aromas are released into the beer. The traditional Bamberg smoked beer produced with this smoked malt is available at the Schlenkerla brewery all year round and also in special brews.

How the beer became smokeless

Matthias Trum is the 6th family generation to run Schlenkerla Bräu. The traditional brewery in Bamberg has a wood-fired oven. He uses a drawing to explain industrial malt drying according to Sir Nicholas Halse. The English were the first to ban smoke from beer. Around 1800, Georg Sedlmeyer of the Munich Spaten Brewery built the first non-smoking kiln in Germany.


Other aspects: From monastery brew to bourgeois trade / documented brewing right / Bamberg pioneer of the Purity Law / special brew for every season / beer during Lent / cooking with smoked beer.


Wall calendar with photos by Georg Berg available in bookstores (also online) in different sizes: World Heritage Garden City Bamberg / also as family planner (*)

Which format do you need? A newsworthy report, an entertaining reportage, a short travel tip or a picture gallery? At the international photo agency Alamy you can see all photos ofGeorg Berg on the subject of smoked beer from Bamberg. Clicking on one of the images below will take you directly to the agency image.

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