Hi, Otto here with all the gen on Köln (Cologne), home to Kölsch. What is Kölsch? According to the 'Kölsch Convention', an agreement between the German government and brewers, a beer may only be called Kölsch if it meets the following criteria: it is brewed in the Cologne metropolitan area, and if it is a pale in colour, top-fermented, hop-accented, filtered, 'Vollbier' (11 - 14º plato}. There is little ale character to be found, apart from a little fruitiness. It has a very soft, rounded character and can be quite sweet. But saying that Köln is well worth a visit there are plenty of brewpubs/brewery taps in the city and all except one within walking distance. You need 2-3 days to do them all justice. It is easy to get there with cheap flight from Manchester and Liverpool and you can get the train straight from the airport. We were lucky and were picked up by Bernadette, our interpreter, guide, driver and all round top babe over the next 10 days. Hotels are plentiful but better to book before hand. Also a must while you are there is a trip to the Dom (cathedral) a stunning gothic building and in its shadow is the Früh brew house our first port of call. The brewery itself is no longer housed here. The main room has a medieval atmosphere and conjures up the image of a baronial dining hall. Adjacent to the beer serving area is a taproom. But you do get to see the assortment of odd-sized barrels from which the waiters pour the glasses of fresh Kölsch. (Note as soon as you empty your glass a new one will be brought until you cover your glass with a beer mat). The meals are very good if a little expensive; well you are in a city.
Heading passed the Dom and towards the Rhine the next port of call was Peters Brauhaus on Mühlengasse 1. This is the brewery's showcase outlet, located in an alleyway just off the Alter Markt. The building used to be home to Brauhaus "Zum Kranz", which stopped brewing in 1898 and closed its doors as a pub in 1907. At the end of the war little more than the facade remained. Peters re-opened it in 1994, after having lovingly recreated a traditional Brauhaus interior. The pub rambles around, with rooms of all shapes and sizes. Pine-topped tables, leaded glass, panelled walls and a stained glass domed ceiling in one room. The Kölsch is wonderfully refreshing we visited here 3 times on our visit. There is a shop across the road selling souvenirs.
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Sünner im Walfisch was our next port of call this is at Salzgasse 13, and only opens at 5pm. There is a small tap room just to the right that will seat approx 10 and you get to see the Kölsch poured from the barrel, they also had on an excellent Weiss bier, the northern take on Weiss bier is more bitter than the southern but still refreshing.
Brauhaus Sion on Unter Taschenmacher 5 is a brand new building with a roomier interior, but rather non atmospheric. There are some nice pieces of leaded glasswork, but the simple, functional design of most of the fittings leave it bland.Next was Brauerei Zur Malzmühle on Heumarkt 6, probably, the best pub in the Altstadt. It has a room either side of the entrance. Wood-panelled walls and pine-topped tables give it a real pub feel. The beer is well-liked locally and with good reason - it's very nice indeed. Malzmühle Kölsch is malty, light-bodied and dry. There's a decent selection of local food, but the emphasis is more on drinking. Well worth crossing various roads and tramlines to get to it. Off to try Päffgen Kölsch, next at Brauhaus en d'r Salzgass with is a large rambling building that looks like they raided a church for the decoration, the menu looked good so we had a meal here and as always in Germany it was large and substantial, no nonsense and very filling. The Kölsch was bitter and went well with the food.
As always I have saved the best until the end, starting with Weissbräu zu Köln on Am Weidenbach 24/Pantaleonswall. All 3 of us voted this as the best Brauhaus in Köln (could this be because it had the dark stuff). Here the Kölsch was clear and refreshing, we then tried the Weiss bier which was a touch bitter but very good. Finally we had the Schwarz bier served in stone tankards; this was based on a Czech dark larger, voted the best bier in Köln unanimously. The brewing kit can be seen as you enter and the conditioning tanks are in the basement, if you intend to eat here booking is essential in the evening.
A tram ride out of the city and then a bit of a walk is Brauhaus Reissdorf on Kleiner Griechenmarkt 40. This is a large modern building with the top of a brew kettle over the bar, the waiters are friendly and the Kölsch is very refreshing after the ride out there.
The next visit was supposedly the smallest Brauhaus in Cologne. Braustelle on Christianstr. 2. This is a tram ride out of the city and is about 50 yards from the tram stop the brew kit is located at the back of the main room. All the biers were unfiltered, so technically the Kölsch is not truly a Kölsch. We also had the Weiss bier again this was bitter, then the Ehrenfelder Alt (old ale) a darkish bitter ale. And the seasonal special the Frühlings Erwachen a spicy spring bier with hints of ginger.
Our last Brauhaus was Heller @ Roonstr. 33. This was only 10 minutes walk from our hotel, excellent planning! The Kölsch 4.5% was mellow and golden, we also tried the Weiss bier 4.5% again a bitter version of the style. I also tried the Eurobok 6.5% a strong amber bok bier a good night cap.
We also went to a few other brewpubs to name a few Gaffel, Gilden, Dom & Giesler.
Paulaner also have an outlet near the Rhine worth a visit if you are down there visiting the chocolate museum. All in all Köln was an excellent bier vacation I can't wait to go back there.
Good supping, cheers the Otto dude.