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These 2 Beers Remain Local Legends

Updated: May 3, 2023

Does Göller Brewery actually have a beer that is downright local to their little region? The answer is "yes!" In fact, they have two beers that are entirely local and traditional: the Rauchbier and the Kellerbier, and luckily for us both of these are imported into the USA!

The region is called Unterfranken (Lower Franconia). This region is the "Beer Capitol" of world, where beer was practically invented, and where there are still more breweries per square kilometer than anywhere else in the world.

The city of Bamberg, very close to the town of Zeil am Main where Brauerei Göller resides, is the regional birthplace of the Kellerbier and the Rauchbier. These two specialities have a close connection to local legend and tradition, going back to at least the early Middle Ages. Probably when Göller received its license to brew in 1514, it was only making these two brews, the smokey Rauch beer and the cloudy Keller (Cellar) beer.

What makes these beers different? Well, both are lagerbiers (cold fermented and aged) but the kellerbier is unique in that it ferments at a slightly warmer temperature than other lagers. The result of this cool but not cold fermentation is that many yeasty particles and proteins are held in suspension, giving the keller beer a cloudy appearance almost like a hefeweizen. As it is left unfiltered, the extra particles enhance the pleasant aromas and give this beer a certain freshness.

But the uniqueness of the kellerbier process doesn't end there. The locals like to age the kellerbier longer than other lagers. Göller ages theirs for at least 10 weeks! This really mellows out the bolder flavors from the warmer fermentation. Then, the beer is traditionally unbunged for a period to allow the excess carbonation to escape. You will appreciate the lower carbonation of the kellerbier because you get to taste the fullness of flavor that this beer has developed. Indeed it does not taste like any other lager you are familiar with.

Now a word about the other beer, the obscure smoked beer, called rauchbier.

The Bamberg legend says that the Rauch was accidentally invented in the Middle Ages when a monastic malthouse in the city burned down. By some miracle the malt in the kilns wasn't burnt. However, the malts did take on a distinctive smokey flavor due to their proximity to the fire. The monks had to keep making beer, so they used the smoked malt, and to their surprise it made a delicious brew! After that experience the monks roasted all their malts with beechwood log-fires, and thus was born the Bamberg rauchbier.

There is probably more legend than truth to this tale. The fact is, before the innovations of the 19th Century, every beer was somewhat smoked. The kilning method in use from time immemorial involved blasting the malted barley with hot smoke to dry and roast it. The English came up with an indirect-heat method that changed the way malts are made, and soon most beers around the world would use these clean malts. However, the Rauch style in Lower Franconia survived, especially in the city of Bamberg and its surrounding region.

As you know, Göller beer is brewed for the locals in the town of Zeil am Main, just outside of Bamberg. The Göller Rauchbier doesn't have to be popular outside Unterfranken (Lower Franconia) for the little brewery to continue with this ancient style. They make it for themselves, and they love it.

As for myself, I have grown into this beer, and now it has become one of my favorites. It has a lot more subtlety than other smoked brews from the Bamberg region, like those of Schlenkerla. The truth is, the first time I tasted it, I thought of bacon or smoked meat. This is because our brains naturally associate the smokiness with meat. After a few more drinks you are able to separate the smokiness from meat and notice more of the malty character.

I must also add that I am not the only one who loves this smokey beer from Göller. I am not exaggerating when I say that Göller's Rauchbier is the best of its class in the world. Göller's Rauch has won gold every year from the prestigious Meininger's International Craft Beer Award since 2016. Göller's Rauch also has under its belt numerous European Beer Star Awards, the most sought after awards in the world. It easily beats all of its local competitors.

If you want something really different, but also a local tradition, you have to try both the Kellerbier and the Rauchbier from Göller.

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