Passing the famous Schlenkerla Brauerei where the best known of Bamberg's smoky beers is brewed, you walk up another impressively steep hill to the Wilde Rose Keller. Now this former brewery's keller is big and it is popular, particularly on a glorious evening. It is all self service which is to my mind, how a keller should be. We got a good seat in the middle to watch the dynamics of it all - a most diverting pastime. First we obtained beer. For me kellerbier, brewery unknown, though it seems to be made for Wilde Rose. Bloody good it was too. For E, Keesmann Herren Pils which while maybe not on top form, supplied her with a satisfactory drink. To accompany this we had a "kellerplatte" from the food counter. Thick slabs of black pudding with tongue, ham of various sorts, pate, cheese, a touch of salad and thick slices of course rye bread made a veritable feast, though E wouldn't touch the black pudding. All for €5. the beer was around €2.00 a half litre.
A lot of people were eating. Some from the food counter and many from their own picnics, which is a traditional and acceptable thing to do. These were most interesting. Old ladies all chipping in this and that while supping kellerbier and gossiping heartily, young families with their evening meal brought to be eaten in the dappled sunlight, a birthday party, with delicious looking (and huge) quantities of food, completed the scene with candles and tablecloths and stunningly pretty women. As the evening went on, the before work crowd of retired people made way for the after work crowd and families. One guy read a book while consuming a few beers and a kellerplatte and to our astonishment, later went up and bought a plateful of leberkaese - a meat loaf. Where did he put it? We were completely filled with our shared meal.
Later younger people arrived. All drank beer more or less. The atmosphere was convivial and jolly. It was delight to watch such a mixed crowd enjoying the outdoors and beer in such a civilised way. There was no horrid and unwanted music, no shouting, no drunkenness and no litter. The crowd was self policing, the children played happily in the play area while parents enjoyed a break. All was well with this Franconian world. We reflected sadly that such a thing wouldn't work in the UK. Our society just isn't structured that way any more.
We left with some regret. We had one more keller to visit.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer writer, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival from 2013 to date. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink. He also judges beer at both the International Beer Challenge and the World Beer Awards.
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