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Aecht Schlenkerla "Helles Maerzen"
Aecht Schlenkerla Distilled
Aecht Schlenkerla Helles
Aecht Schlenkerla Lentbeer/"Fastenbier"
Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Maerzen
Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Oak Smoke
Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock
Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Wheat
Brauerei Heller-Trum/ Aecht Schlenkerla
Type: Brewery
Website: http://www.schlenkerla.de/

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The history of the Schlenkerla Tavern building starts together with that of the monastery, which was founded in the 14th century.

In the time between 1405 and 1615 the building was sold a number of times. During the 30 Year's War (1618-1648) the house was destroyed and rebuilt. The reports before 1678 are scarce, but in that year the brewery was founded and from that time on one can find more and more in the records.

Since 1678 there have been numerous owners of the brewery. Very important of whom was Johann Wolfgang Heller, who took over in mid 18th century. He already owned an old rock-cellar for beer storage up on the hill "Kaulberg" just outside Bamberg. Later on, this storage facility was moved to another hill, called "Stephansberg", which is nowadays in the middle of town. In the 19th and 20th century the brewery was moved step by step to that location just above the ancient cellars on Stephansberg. In the trade-registry the official name of the brewery is "Heller-Bräu", even if everybody just calls it Schlenkerla.

1877 was a very important year for the tavern, as Andreas Graser became the new owner. He was a little bit handicapped and moved his arms in a funny way when he walked. In the Franconian dialect this is called "Schlenkern". People soon started to call the place Schlenkerla, and the name has remained until today

In 1907 his son Michael Graser took over the brewery. More and more guests came to the tavern, and a part of the former monastery was taken on lease from the Bavarian government, which had become the owner during secularization. The paintings in the beautiful gothic-arched sealing of this "Dominikanerklause" were being restored by the Germanic Museum of Nurnberg in the 1920s.

In 1960 this part of the tavern was bought from the state and Michael Graser's daughter, Elisabeth, and her husband, Jakob Trum, took over the brewery. In 1967 they handed over the brewery and tavern to their son German Trum.

History of Smokebeer:

A great many stories have grown up around the origins of Smokebeer. Some are quite imaginative, others are a bit strange. The majority can be considered fairy-tales and fables.

The old Sumerians and Babylonians already knew of the art of brewing beer which was later perfected by the German tribes in Roman times. The basic process in those days was quite similar to the one today - apart from the technical instruments. Green malt always had to be dried (kilned). In the past, besides the usage of sun rays (which was quite difficult in Europe) there was only one way to achieve this: drying it over an open fire. Thus it was unavoidable that smoke penetrated the malt and gave it a smoky flavor. Technical developments over the centuries made it possible to produce malt without an open fire, thus without a smoky taste. Original Schlenkerla Smokebeer has preserved that old tradition of smoking the malt. Therefore you are, in effect, having a little piece of the past with every swallow!

Brewing Process:

The art of brewing beer has been known for thousands of years. Over the time the process of brewing has been continuously improved; this development has not yet reached an end. In the following, we would like to show you the way from barley to Original Schlenkerla Smokebeer brewed according to the Bavarian Purity Law of 1516.


It is not possible to brew beer directly from barely; first it has to be processed into malt. This happens in the Schlenkerla Brewery's own malthouse.

Step 1: Steeping

First the barley has to be soaked in water in order to start the germination process. In the language of brewers this is called "steeping". During this process, the grain is alternately steeped and aerated.

Step 2: Germination

After the water content in the grain has reached 35%, it starts to germinate. When the grain begins to grow, enzymes are formed, which are able to break down the contents of the grain (mainly protein and starch). This ability is necessary later on in the brewing process. During the 7-day germination period the green malt, as brewers call it, is constantly turned and aerated.

Step 3: Kilning

In order to stop germination and to stabilize the involved biochemical processes, the green malt must be dried (kilned). That is where the secret of the Original Schlenkerla Smokebeer lies. A beechwood log fire underneath the kiln heats the air, and the smoke gives the malt its typical smoky flavor.

Note: Breweries without their own malthouse - the vast majority - can purchase different types of malt from commercial malthouses. For them the brewing process starts with Step 4.


Step 4: Grinding

To continue the transformation process started in the malthouse, the malt must initially be ground into grist.

Step 5: Mashing

The grist is mixed with water in the mash tun. In the resulting mash, the enzymes can convert the components of the malt. The most important step is the transformation of starch into malt sugars. This takes place at temperatures between 45° C and 77° C.

Step 6: Wort Separation

After the conversion process is finished, the sugar-rich malt liquid, the wort, is separated from the solid components, the spent grain. The wort is then transferred to the brew kettle, while the spent grain is removed from the brewery, and can be used, for example, for baking bread.

Step 7: Boiling

The wort is boiled in the kettle and the hops are added in several stages. Through the heat the bittering elements in the hops are released, giving the beer its distinctive bitterness. During the boil, water evaporates so that the wort reaches the necessary concentration (original gravity). Some components of the wort become insoluble through the heat; these substances are called the "hot break" and must be removed subsequently. The overall process in the brewhouse from mashing to the completion of the boil takes about 8 hours.

Step 8: Cooling & Pitching

After boiling, the wort is pumped into the whirlpool; the wort is “drawn off”, as brewers say. Here the hot break is removed. Subsequently the wort is cooled, aerated and yeast is added; in the language of brewers, it is "pitched".

Fermenting Cellar

Step 9: Primary Fermentation

Yeast can survive not only through aerobic respiration (with oxygen, as the human body), but also in an anaerobic (without oxygen) environment through alcoholic fermentation. In this process, malt sugar is converted into alcohol, carbon dioxide and heat. At the end of primary fermentation, which lasts approximately 7 days, most of the yeast settles to the bottom of the fermenting tank. For this reason, it is called bottom-fermented beer. The yeast in top-fermented beer, i.e. Original Schlenkerla Smokebeer - Wheat, rises to the top of the fermenting tank.

The green beer - which is what this interim product is called by brewers – is now pumped to the lagering cellar for secondary fermentation.

Maturation Cellar

Step 10: Secondary Fermentation and Maturation

Now follows a period of maturation to perfect the beer. The remaining fermentable elements in the green beer are transformed by the yeast, whereby more carbon dioxide is created. The conditioning/storage tanks are closed with a prime regulator (a pressure release valve) which is set to a specific counter-pressure. In this way the carbon dioxide content in the final beer is regulated. Maturation takes about 6-8 weeks, after which the beer is ready to drink.

Another specialty of Schlenkerla:
The maturation takes place in the old caves underneath Stefansberg, which are part of an extensive tunnel system over 700 years of age. As they have a constant low temperature throughout the year, they have been used by Schlenkerla brewers for centuries. Ice was harvested from lakes and rivers, to cool down the caves further and after warm winters, when not enough ice was available, it was even imported from as far as Finnland and Sweden to mature Smokebeer properly.

Note: Original Schlenkerla Smokebeer Wheat does not mature in the lagering cellar, but in the bottle (Original Bottle Conditioning).

Step 11: Filtration

At the end of secondary fermentation, the beer still contains yeast and other suspended matter. It must be filtered in order to give it the brilliant clarity desired by the consumer. After that, it can be filled into either kegs or bottles.

Inside Schlenkerla

Schlenkerla - in Bamberg a magical word with many meanings. Strangers will hear it from the taxi driver or, at the latest, in the hotel after the recommendation of a visit to the cathedral. The three syllables don't just stand for the beautiful half-timbered house and the Smokebeer, tapped directly from oak-wood kegs, but for much more.

There is far more to Schlenkerla than delicious food and drink. If you would rather drink you beer by yourself, be forewarned: it is almost impossible to avoid relaxed, cheerful conversations at the wooden tables. In everyday life the ordinary Franconian acts somewhat reserved when dealing with strangers, but that characteristic is left outside when entering the Smokebeer paradise. And that is a tradition. For more than 300 years, the tasty, dark brown brew has made our guests happy and loosened their tongues. As in the past, when high clerics sat at the same table with farmers, today the musician from the Bamberg Symphonic Orchestra drinks his beer next to the factory worker.

Original Schlenkerla Smokebeer levels the differences between classes. It brings together the stranger with the local. Here and there, between laughter and talk, you might see some serious faces. Ever since Bamberg has had a University, worlds have been changed in Schlenkerla - at least theoretically: the meaning of God has been newly defined or an alternative view of history has been taken. Students of the first semester are most passionate in this, but after the third or fourth beer they often lose their scholarly seriousness.

In the summertime - the house having been adorned with geraniums - the inner courtyard comes to life again. The places and tables outside are as popular as the ones inside. It is very common to see a couple in their best dress - having just come from a midday concert - sitting next to a family in hiking dress - exhausted after a long walk. Thirst binds them all together.

Schlenkerla is the secret center not just of the old town, but of the whole of Bamberg and its surroundings. Even the city fathers apparently see it like this, as they bring their guests from all parts of the world with pride to Schlenkerla. Its uniqueness just doesn't seem to fit the usual definition of hospitality: it is more.

Many have tried to describe Schlenkerla, but no comprehensive description is possible, one has to experience it to understand!

Picture: The lamp outside of the Aecht Schlenkerla in Bamberg.
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