Cologne: so good they named it twice. Köln, as the Germans insist on calling it, is a bustling city. Still scarred from the effects of WW11-the rebuild seems never ending-it boasts a famous cathedral and, no doubt, some other cultural highlights. However, the important question is, as always, is it worth visiting? That means, of course, what’s it like for a drink? The good news is that it scores well in that regard. Yes, I like Köln. If Dusseldorf is the older, steady brother, then Köln is its slightly rebellious younger sibling. Of the two, I’d prefer to be having a nightcap in Köln rather than facing another Alt in Dusseldorf.
The Torture Chamber
Not so tortuous inside
The drink of choice in Köln is Kölsch which just happens to be the name of the local dialect. At one time Köln could boast the most breweries of any city in Germany. But although the brands live on, most of the breweries have closed. The remaining brewers each produce a Kölsch subtly different from their rivals and, as in Dusseldorf, everyone will have their favourite. Also like Dusseldorf, the beer comes in annoyingly small measures. Don’t be fooled into thinking that these Stange (pole) glasses are some quirky historical throwback. The old photos showing whole litres being necked demonstrate otherwise. Bizarrely some people actually claim that 0.1L glasses are the correct vessel for Kölsch. Frightening.
Can I have a bigger measure?
Now you're talking
We certainly had the weather for our exploration of Köln. The sun shone down and warmed our pale North England skin and gave us an unexpected chance of al fresco drinking. However, as we spent most of our time cloistered in pubs, don’t expect to see any sunbathing photos on this blog. The obvious place to start is the famous Früh am Dom. This, the main outlet of Früh, is enormous. Look up cavernous in the dictionary and you will find it listed there. A sprawling, multi-levelled affair, you won’t be waiting long before a Köbe (waiter) comes along with his tray of Kölsch. Good luck if you’re looking for someone in here as most likely you won’t get a phone signal, either.

I think it's autumn
Right who's paying for this lot?
Another must visit place is Sion. The beer may come from the Kuppers plant but the pub, modern by Köln standards, is well worth a visit. Leaded glass and gleaming tiles give it a smart, polished look. Malzmühle is a great pub, lovingly recreated from wartime ruins and is an authentic Kölsch brewpub. The beer, however, leans very heavily on the malty side and is the least appealing in the city. Unlike Päffgen which is light and bitter and very refreshing. This is not to be confused with a breakaway part of the family, Pfaffen, which has a nice pub of its own in the Heumarkt.
The Kaiser 1913
The Kaiser 2013
Midnight and the beer's still flowing
Another fine boozer is Peters Brauhaus. Not only can they claim to be one of the genuine Kölsch brewers, the pub itself is a splendid mix of panelling and leaded glass. For a contrast, try the Schreckenskammer. The ‘Horror Chamber’ was destroyed in 1943 and took 17 years to reopen. Situated opposite the Ursula church, it’s very traditional in style and even boasts sawdust on the floor. The Kölsch here is actually brewed at Dom and a visit to their tap proved interesting. The place was deserted when we arrived and yet the bartender was reluctant to let us sit anywhere. After explaining we were only having a quick drink he begrudgingly waved us to a table. After which sitting at, he immediately rushed over and ushered us to an identical deserted table.
2 German CAMRA members
There are plenty to go at in the city centre, but with the integrated transport system being what it is, you really should check the outskirts out. Sünner have a great cellar brewery tap and unusually offer a Hefeweizen as well. For the summer months there is also an appealing beer garden. We tried to get into Töller to sample some Kölsch, but not being diners we were refused seats. Even out pleas to drink stood outside fell on deaf ears with the barman very honestly, if nothing else, telling us they only allow locals to do that. Then there was Brauhaus Reissdorf with the lovely Fräulein who captured Eddie, the eager legal beagle's heart and Gaffel to name but a few. And no trip to Köln is complete without a visit to Papa Joes, if only to watch Schultz and Dooley, the two automatons, in action.

If you haven’t been to Köln, then you need to go and if you have been, you need to go again.


Paul Bailey said…
Papa Joes, eh! Brings back a few memories, and was also somewhere which served a beer apart from Kölsch. (König Pilsner, by the half litre, if my memory serves me correctly!).

You are right Tyson, "if you have been, you need to go again".
Tandleman said…
0.25 in Dusseldorf Tyson.
Tyson said…
Ah, of course. How quickly we forget.

Popular posts from this blog

A Tale Of Two Weekends

The Kimberley Club

Send The Buggers Back