Years Back – Cologne and Surroundings

Lahnstein – Maximillian’s Brauwiesen. A rare brewery in Rhine wine
country near Koblentz. Opened in 1995, this big brewpub complex seats 700 for
parties, receptions, etc. Good luck finding it since there is no sign outside at
all. If we hadn’t seen a picture of the fronting house we would have driven by.
Out back there’s a new building and a very large terrace stretching down to the
Rhine. The decor includes hop vines hanging from beams and old kegs and
equipment strewn everywhere.

You can get 10, 15, 20, and 30 liter siphons (growlers) for 51€,
75€, 99€,
or 145€. Towers are also available at the
table. Party on, Garth. While we were
there 90 people walked in at once. 4 waitresses and a 2nd bartender trooped out
from another room and everyone had drinks within 5 minutes. Very efficient.

  • Braunes – Malty and sour.
  • Wiesenweizen – Cloudy yellow. More banana in aroma than in taste.
  • Helles – Sloppy serve with foam running down the side. This stayed for a
    long time but didn’t harden like the expanding foam insulation they use on
    This Old House. Bright yellow with a green tint. Slightly sour North German
    hell. Pretty typical.

A small brewing system shares space behind the bar with a pretzel toaster.

Yep, they are ready for party animals.

Cologne. It’s Kolsch in Koln. Kolsch is an ale rather than a lager and
every brewer in Cologne makes one and serves it in small 200ml straight-sided
narrow glasses for about 1.25 to 1.80€. It’s
a style that goes back 750 years. Actually most of the Kolsch in town is as
indistinguishable from each other as is Bud and Miller. Only the most notable
are mentioned in this list of the brewery taps we visited.

Here’s a pub crawl that you can really crawl. Not even a mile between start
and finish. Start at the Dom and work southward.

  • Fruh. Closest to the Dom, just a block south. Ed Hermann says they
    have the worst tasting Kolsch in town and it is a bit watery. There are at
    least 10 rooms in the sprawling place, 5 of them down in the brick vaulted
    keller. Absurdly busy. Very fast and efficient food service. An overhead crane
    in the keller brings in new kegs – neat.
  • Sion Brauhaus. Just east on Am Dom. A hotel restaurant with a
    convenient stop-in-for-one spot at the serving station.
  • Peters Brauhaus. At the north end of the Alter Markt, this whole
    place looks like a dignified hotel lobby. The arched glass ceiling (below) is
    magnificent.
  • Gaffel Haus. On the Alt Market. A busy stop-in local with a
    stamstich area.
  • Alter Morchi Treff – A Gilden outlet just south of the Gafel Haus in the
    Alter Markt. It’s fairly nondescript – very plain.
  • Kulisse. Dom Kolsh’s Alter Markt house next to the Alter Morchi
    Treff. An older facade with German music at 80 decibels and a lot more people.
    Lots of laughing. 3, 5, and 10-liter towers on tables might explain why.
  • A block east is the Beir Museum with 35 taps and rowdy German-language
    rock music, even on a Sunday afternoon. There’s a long party tradition of
    regulars – and at least one of the worst singers in Europe chanting along.
  • Next door is Papa Joes Jazz Lokal. New Orleans music and the highest
    Kolsch price (and biggest glasses) to pay for the band. When we were there a
    damn fine 5-piece band was on. Made us yearn to be back on Bourbon Street in
    a year or two.
  • Sunner‘s Walfisch. A block south. It has all the proper ambiance
    but it’s all new inside (the 1980s?). The Kolsch has CO2 but it
    tasted flat. Very bitter. They also make a hefeweizen that is rich in banana –
    true Bavarian.
  • Zum Pfaffen. In the Heumarkt just east of Walfisch. Kolsch is
    served from the wood and is richer and fruitier than most. Stained glass and
    carvings have a humorous theme.
  • Malz Muhle. – The Muhlen is at the south side of the Heumarkt
    downtown. It’s a 60s looking place with the brewery right next door. Clinton
    stopped here in the 1990s for a beer.

Not done yet? Hit the tram from Heumarkt to the mixed ethinic Barbarossa
Platz neighorhood for a couple of more great bars.

  • Weiss Brau. A block south of the tram stop. This reminds one of a
    Manhattan pre-prohibition bar; a noisy mixed-ethnic local with kids galore
    while a family Friday get-together ate platters of food and matronly
    grandmothers tsk-tsked everything. Seats over 500 people. 2 vats stacked in
    the front window and open fermenters downstairs. Also a free WIFI hotspot
    where I posted the Bavarian pages.

    • Kolsch – Thick and creamy for the style with plenty of bitterness.
    • Weiss – Ask for a white beer. Reddish hefe. Fruity with a weak peach
      flavor. Practically no aroma.
    • Pantaleons Schwarze – Ask for the black beer. Served in a stone mug so
      it’s tough to see how black it is but the head is the same exact color as
      the mug. It’s the blackest beer I’ve ever tasted. All the flavor the weiss
      lacks has been put into this beer instead. Could be a Stout. Grows on you
      fast.
  • Haus Toller – A seemingly ancient place two blocks north of the Weiss Brau.
    It’s a Sion house. The front door leads through the serving stand to a dining
    room of old tables and plain wood chairs. Motto: “Tradition”. We think started
    by Dores Toller who died in 1912. The soleier are not to be missed – serious
    pickled eggs in the shell that are almost as potent as Chinese 100 year old
    eggs.

Fruh occupies both of these buildings.

Drawing from the “wood” in the Fruh keller. There’s an overhead trolley to
transport kegs.

The hop covered chandelier at Peters Brauhaus.

Kulisse is loud outside.

And louder inside. 5-liter tower.

Papa Joes on Rothenberg. Not to be confused with the one on the Alter
Markt.

Clowns have been a part of the Cologne scene since Shrove Monday carnivals
began in 1823.

Sion.

12 Kolsch glasses fit into trays for easier service. Most taps fill, let
sit, and top up the glasses.

Gaffel Haus.

Alter Morchi Treff.

Bier Museum.

Undoubtedly the worst and most enthusiastic singer in Europe at the Bier
Museum.

Sunner im Walfisch.

Weiss Brau.

Magnificent dining room at Peters Brauhaus.

Dusseldorf is Alt Bier country. Alt (literally “old” being an older style
before lagers were invented) is also an ale but darker and more pronounced than
Kolsch. It’s also usually more bitter. Comparatively like an ESB relates to a
Pale Ale. Or a Pilsner to a Helles lager. We stopped in 5 brewery taps in
Dusseldorf on Unification Day – a perfect time for a pub crawl since nothing but
restaurants were open in Germany anyway.

One thing to note about Dusseldorf. If you order a beer you’ll get an alt.
Another thing. If your glass is empty it will be replaced immediately whether
you ask or not. Servings are 250ml for about 1.50€.
Your beer mat will be marked with a slash to count the beers – be sure not to
grab any old mat with pencil marks on it when you sit down.

  • Brauerei Frankenheim Ausschank. Served from the plastic keg.
    Backstreet, backwater local with plenty of business but no soul. Dour. Cavernous
    multi-roomed, all new, “since 1873”. Alt is nice and fruity. Catch it on a
    different day and it may rock, who knows? Also a Pils but they wouldn’t serve it
    – didn’t say if it was on or not, just that I wanted another Alt.
  • Brauerei im Fuchschen. Sit outside if it’s nice. The alt is
    quite bitter and reddish hued. They also have a Silber Fuchschen Weizenbier in a
    swing-top bottle – served half-heartedly as if I was a Bavarian. An OK weisse
    but nothing spectacular, though good.
  • Zum Schlussel – Served from big wood casks. Stay up front at
    the marble bar or explore deeper for food service.
  • Gaststatte im Sammhaus Schumacher. Classic northern Germany
    big-city hole. Waiter tried to talk me out of the cheese plate and then out of a
    glass of tea. Also refused to serve a Schankbier saying “dis is licht” when
    putting another Alt on my table. Heck, I’m counting on that cheese and caffeine
    to get me back to Cologne.
  • Zum Uerige, downtown, makes a soft, strong, bitter, amber brew
    served from the wood. It’s famous everywhere as the definitive Alt beer. The
    Sticke (secret) beer of legend was sadly not on when we were there but that
    was to be expected. They also make a delicious Weizen – dark yellow hefe,
    smooth, rich, even creamy, none of that sissy sweet banana stuff, all malt and
    wheat. Sit in the front corner room for the best service or go back to the
    other rooms or the terrace across the street for food.

Sign in the courtyard at Schumacher.

Uerige.

Fuchschen.

Schussel.

Schussel’s vats.

The front room at Uerige.
No, the hops aren’t actually growing from the keg.

Between
Cologne and Bonn there are 2 breweries:

Troisdorf – Stadt Brauerei Troisdorf / Privat brauerei Haussman. Owned
by the city and housed in part of the community center and leased to Manfred
Hausamann. This thoroughly modern brewpub in a thoroughly modern bedroom
community has an attractive washed-wood bar that seats 20. The 20bbl vats are
placed for viewing interest while the stainless steel is in the kitchen area.
There was a steady lunch and after-lunch crowd with regulars at the bar. A
wide-ranging food menu.

  • Troisdorfer – A seriously bitter alt. Unfiltered and a bit cloudy.
    Properly reddish.
  • Troi-Pi – Medium yellow. Served in a tulip glass with a rocky white head
    that disappeared before I could take the picture at right. No hops are spared
    here either. A beer with plenty of pilsenness. Fresh and clean. Could make me
    drink German Pils again.
  • Troilsh – A Kolsch of course. In a proper 20 ml glass even though the menu
    claims .25 liter. Nice enough beer.
  • Oktoberfest – A seasonal on for Bavarian folks. Actually this one is a
    hefe-weizen. Very pale yellow. Yeasty with lots of banana. A worthy beer.
  • Other seasonal include a weisen (must be a klaar), bock, and a schwarz.

     

Sieburg
– Michel Siegberger Abtbrauerei.
In the downtown pedestrian platz. 60’s wood
and hops decor with a long bar and two TVs with piped-in music. Comfortable
laid back place for an American on a lazy afternoon. Weekend jazz bands. 80
cent happy hours. Family nights. Regulars, shoppers, and shoppers’ husbands.

  • Alt – Red, thick, sweet, some Czech hops. Not to style but a good beer.
    4.7%
  • Kolsch – Identifiable but much richer than in Cologne. I hate using “rich”
    so often but it’s applicable. Almost chewy and that’s really rich for this
    style.
  • Oktoberfestbier – Seasonal of the month. Way smooth amber lager. Thick and
    sweet. Indiana brewery Oktoberfestish. Served in a tall flute. 5.9%.

     

Bonn – Brauhaus Bonnsch. On the pedestrian arcade near the bahnhof.
Lots of evening business and lots of English being spoken. Home of the famous
crooked glass but they serve their Bonnsch in 30ml mugs – the glasses are for
sale in the gift shop though.

  • Bonnsch – Unfiltered, cloudy hell that they purport to be a Kolsch. Looks
    like a wit but is very bland, especially for a 1045OG beer.
  • Weizen – A little darker. Much more of a beer. True Bavarian character.
    Just a touch less clear than a kristalweisse.