Brewery Special: How the smoke gets into the world-famous beer

Smoked beer has been brewed in the Spezial brewery in Bamberg since 1536. Christian Merz's brewing specialties owe their unique taste worldwide primarily to the drying of the brewing malt over a beech wood fire. Germinating, kilning, grinding - the preparation of brewing malt, the basis of which is organic barley from the Bamberg region, is a craftsmanship that has always been carried out in the same, very special way for many generations. A painstaking, complex manual work that brewers around the world rarely undertake these days.

“We make our smoked malt ourselves right from the start because we can’t buy the quality we need for this taste.”

The Spezial brewery in Bamberg

Beer has been brewed here on the former Steinweg, an old, nationally important trade route, for over 480 years. One of the last of the 22 breweries still found on the street at the beginning of the 19th century is the Spezial brewery. The Spezial brewery property at Obere Königstrasse 10 is considered an ideal example of a 16th century brewery. With its magnificent, listed half-timbered facade, it stands out from the other buildings on the street.

According to a document from 1536, the founder of the brewery is Linhard Großkopf from Büttner, whose family owned several other breweries on Steinweg at that time. The name “Spezial” first appears in connection with the former owner Nikolas Delscher, who was “called Spicial, was a brewer and also a Büttner” and ran the brewery restaurant from 1631 to 1664. The Spezial brewery has been owned by the Merz family since 1898. Master brewer Christian Merz is now running the company in the 4th generation.

Today, guests from all over the world visit the brewery inn all year round to enjoy the uniquely mild special smoked beer on site. Typical Franconian dishes are served in the restaurant and in the picturesque brewery inn. If you want to stay overnight, you are in good hands in one of the 15 cozy guest rooms.


Film, text and photos: Matthias Rotter