Bamberg, with eight breweries in its centre and dozens peppering the surrounding region, lives and breathes beer as if it were air. And that air carries the meaty aroma of beechwood smoke.
With the Oktoberfest on the horizon, I consider the birth of Mӓrzen and Hell at the festival, explore Munich beer offerings away from the Theresienwiese, and pay tribute to Georg Schneider, patron saint of Weiβbier.
With a couple of friends to lend a helping hand, brew day can be a hospitable time of aimless conversation, mutual admiration of shiny brewing equipment, and shameless indulgence in good beer, cheese and ham.
The pungent, earthy rind of a Saint Nectaire and the startling acetic bite of Duchesse de Bourgogne ensured that this journey into a wildernesses of flavour was not for the faint-hearted.