- Beer Writer & Brewer -
When Maximillian in January 1812 made it possible for brewers to sell their freshly lagered beers in their gardens, it was the start of bier kellers as we know them today. For the brewers it combined a fresh offering with simpler logistics. Firstly, the brewers did not have to transport the barrels back to the inn. Secondly, the location of the kellers on the outskirts of the villages, in cool grove forests or slightly elevated on mountain slopes offered the opportunity to open shady beer gardens, which on hot days provide natural cooling and a pleasant stay outdoors.
Image by Tourist Information Bamberg
To not collide with the innkeepers business, the only food permitted to sell was bread. As a consequence hungry visitors quickly learned to bring their own food. That tradition still lives on today and in most bier kellers you are still allowed to bring you own food.
After the introduction of cooling systems, the lagering capacity of the kellers lost their value. But the shade, offered by the trees on top of them, still attracts guest on those hot summer days. One of the more interesting ones is the Gambrinus Keller in Unterhaid. Just short of 12 km from the Old Townhouse in Bamberg.
A range of the private cellars
It’s been a while since the Gambrinus Brewery brewed their last beer. Since 2000, they have contract brewed their beer at Schlossbrauerei Reckendorf. For visitors who prefer actual breweries, it’s not the most obvious place to visit in Franconia. Having said that they still lager it in their own keller and what few people know, is that the Gambrinus Hausbräu, a Ungespundetes Pils called Gambrinus12, is brewed after their own recipe and to my surprise, it was quite a lot more hoppy than the regular Reckendorf equivalent. 4.4. Not to be missed.
To be honest, my visit last month wasn’t just about the beer, but also the spectacular Unterhaider Kellergasse. For a distance of 165 meters, you can find 29 individual kellers, including simple rectilinear and unramified kellers as well as Y-shaped double kellers. Laying beautifully next to each other going up a hill, it is an extraordinary view and experience. 28 of them are still used by Hausbrauers.
In January 2011, the Kellergasse was awarded a “Monument Protection” order and 23.000 € for the repair of the extensive Keller system. The restoration also included the Brewery keller house, Kegelbahn (skittle alley) and two terraces. The Kegelbahn, which was first mentioned in a document in the 18th century and is dated 1727 by an inscription, is the oldest civic leisure facility in the region.
Two private cellars and the Kegelbahn just above them.
The restoration has brought the Kellergasse back to former glory and the beer served is better than most in the area. I highly recommend visiting. For more pictures click the gallery below.