Last post for a while, but I wanted to share with you another wonderful experience of touring a few of Köln's sources of traditional, excellent Kölsch. As you probably know, Kölsch, is a top-fermented, light (almost lager-like) ale. It can only be called "Kölsch" if it's from Cologne, otherwise it's simpy "Kölsch style"
Spending as much time in Cologne as I've been doing recently, and believe me I do feel very lucky, I've had a chance to try quite a few different styles: Fruh, Sion, Gaffel, Pfaffgen, Muhlen, and many more. Although the range of differences are subtle from one brauerei to the next, they are very detectable, and locals have clear preferences.
Acting once again upon recommendations from friends over here and over there, I dragged with me my colleague from the previous night's Altibier round.
I had originally aimed for a fairly long route, but it got shortened along in the process - in some small way related to our efforts in Dusseldorf, but it certainly did not diminish the experience.
First off, Mühlenkölsch at the Malz Mühlen (Malt Mill)
My crappy phone camera (and I do apologize for the terrible quality of all my shots. It's the phone, not me or my condition!) left me with this memory of the entrance
The Mühlenkölsch is a fairly light, smooth ale that lends itself well to the food we had - another hearty, healthy(?) serving of animal parts
We stayed at the Malz Mühlen slightly longer than anticipated, the result of good food and enjoyable conversation.
But, on we went, and my originally planned route was "intercepted" by a nice looking place near the Altmarkt - Old Market, in the Altstadt.
At the Brauerei Pfaffen, or "Päffgen", which means little cleric/priest, we enjoyed a very flavorful and quick drink.
It would later turn out that this was my favorite of the evening. Similar to Gaffel am Dom - a more distinct flavor profile of hops and malt.
As we wandered along the Rhein river, in an incredible part of town...
...we passed by the Ständige Vertretung. It is a word play that turned in to a small chain of restaurants. After WWII, when Eastern Germany wanted to set up an embassy in Bonn, the then-capital of West Germany, it wasn't politically or historically correct to recognize the "stolen brother state" by letting it be called an "embassy". So, they used the term "Ständige Vertretung", which means permanent representation. A bar in Bonn was started with the same name, and has now apparently spread to various places around the country, especially where politicians mingle (with lobbyists?)
Anyhoo, at this bar/restaurant, my tour guide/colleague friend showed me an element of the Köln-Dusseldorf rivalry.
It may not be very visible, but on the drinks section of the menu it says
Altbier 50km north of here
It's a funny illustration of, as I described from the previous evening, the north-south battle of two cities a few miles from each other, with much old history and brewing techniques in common, have found beer to be their battleground.
Not taking sides in this Hatfield/McCoy situation (my colleague is from up north in Bremen, lives now in Berlin), we moved on to Sion Kölsch, another recommendation.
Another wonderful kölsch, light body and flavor, but with the same pleasant "drinkability" that characterizes the beer in the Rheinland-Westphalen region. At Sion, we even had a schnapps to go with it, just for kicks
The bartender in the background, friendly and funny as I have found them all to be whether they speak one or several licks of English, was doing a beer-gut pose, but decided at the last second to actually do some work.
The evening drawing late, we started heading back towards the taxi stand (and I've never had much trouble finding them with lots of cars available, but then again, I don't stay out 'till the crazies want to go home), we were once again derailed by this beautiful front
The Brauhaus Sünner im Walfisch - Brewery the Sinner in the Whalefish - is another 300+ year old place with wooden benches and tables, 2 stories and a more flavorful Kölsch.
And they serve beer almost like at an old-fashioned gas station in the US - these chaps are yanks, by the way
My Passepartout had once again contributed to a full evening of learning about German history, culture, indistry, politics, and the finer nuances of life in this old and interesting culture - all through the malt-colored prism of a beer glass. I am very grateful to him for tagging along with me on these tours, and during my next trip I'm aiming to visit him in Berlin, so stay tuned for a report or two from there.
Thanks for listening,
PS: A common denominator for all the places I've visited and written about lately, is that every single person I meet is happy, eager, and proud to talk about their beer. Be it Dutch-Belgian or French-Belgian, Germans from North, Central, or South, they also understand that beer reflects them, their culture in an incredibly intimate way. I am glad to see that the US (and other places) are returning to this mindset.