The Bavarian Beer Purity Law of 1516, also known as the Reinheitsgebot, is often cited in brewing related literature. But lesser known is the pure-beer law from 1303, instated more than 200 years earlier in the region of northern Bavaria known as Franconia. In 1934, vessels from a Franconian burial mound were discovered and noted to contain traces of beer sediment which dated to the 9th Century B.C.. Clearly, the region has a profound brewing history. It is today home to some of the most unique beers in Germany. The region's historic brewing cities are Erlangen, Kulmbach (from whence we plucked the famous Eisbock we featured last month) and Bamberg, home to the Mahr's Brewery. Family-owned Mahr's Bräu is home to one of the most charming pubs in Bamberg—well worth the visit if you're in the country, as it's truly one of the finest places on this earth to enjoy a beer (other than our Member of the Month's porch!). However, you might be tempted by the eight other breweries in this city of just over 70,000, which makes the region the titlist of "most breweries per square mile." The beers produced here are some of the most individualistic in all of Germany, including Schlenkerla's Rachbiers, or smoke beers, which many seasoned beer drinkers will confess represent "an acquired taste" (but it should be noted that these brews are quite remarkable; when paired correctly, they can make a single stick of beef jerky a marvelous culinary delight—no joke, if you ever try Schlenkerla's Urbock, snap into a Slim Jim and you'll be amazed by how well the two complement one another.)
The Mahr's brewery dates from 1670 and has been owned and operated by the same family since 1880. Their beers are the result of Germany's best craft-brewed traditions, and their unfiltered, unpasteurized wheat beers have become the new classic as far as weisse beers go. The result is a line up of beers that are brewed according to the practices in place hundreds of years ago. It's a sad fact these days that not all German-brewed beers are 'authentic'; but have no fear, the Mahr's beers are authentic Bavarian brews at their best! A final interesting point, the brewery is one of very few left in the world where Ungespundet beer is served—the term means "unbunged" and refers to the fact that the maturation vessel was open to the atmosphere, resulting in lower carbonation. With less bite from the carbonation, the palate is more receptive to the true flavors of the beer.
We could go on all day about Franconian beers, but since you've got one at the ready right now, we'll let you get started and be your own judge. Enjoy!