As with the last round, this one starts with Brauerei Spezial Bamberg but this time their Märzen. This pours a clear rich amber with a thin tan head. The aroma is somewhat fruity, in a fresh appealing way. Like fresh cooking apples. A bit like the Lagerbier, this has a restrained smokiness. It lingers on the tongue after the sweet caramel-like malts wash down. There's a slight bitterness that is spicey in nature, with an almost gingery warmth. Apples come out again in the finish. I hate to describe it like this, but I can't help thinking apple pie with a salty shortbread crust. Interesting. Unfortunately, after a while it gets a bit sticky-sweet and, for me at least, it wasn't really as enjoyable as their Lagerbier.
Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier from Brauerei Heller Bamberg was the first Rauchbier I ever tried about four or five years ago, so I was keen to revisit it. Even taking a sniff of the bottle after opening it told me this was going to be a more smokey experience. Pouring a deep ruddy brown, like well polished mahogony, it even looks smokey. The power of suggestion! The aroma isn't really as in-your-face as I recalled, but there was no mistaking that smoked ham-like tone. And to me, that's exactly what this beer tastes like. There are toffee-like flavours lurking underneath it all, but that sweet smoke dominates. The whole thing is drier than the Special offering, and this makes it a cleaner beer and easier to drink for it. I had been worried I'd find the smoke overpowering, but my memories had clearly amplified it. As it was, I found the smoke sweet and very enjoyable.
For this round the Schlenkerla wins, due in part to a more smokey experience, but mainly because I found it a more balanced beer that was simply more enjoyable to drink.