Out Inn the Wide World
Real Ale in Germany
We can do no more than dip a figurative toe into the waters
of Germany, such is the scope of beer drinking in this country. However,
to keep the task manageable, we will restrict our comments and reports
only to beers that would comply with the CAMRA definition of real ale.
They must be served without the addition of gas and must not be pasteurised.
This is a controversial approach, and many beer lovers enjoy interesting
German beers that are served with a blanket of gas. We will report in
these pages, however, only on beers served direct from the cask. (We have
yet to see a hand pump in Germany)
The home brew pubs of the old town are an unmissable part of a visit to Dusseldorf. Full of local colour, local characters, quirky waiters, good food and great beer, they are a superb place to relax, eat and drink. Most are within a few minutes' walk of each other in the most interesting part of the old town, with pedestrian street, cobbles, shops and attractive buildings. All of the pubs listed serve "real ale" by gravity from casks on the bar. Walk in, wait, and beer will be brought to you.
The beer is served in what many will think of as small glasses, cylindrical and holding 25 cl. Full measure, a matter close to the hearts of CAMRA members in Britain is not even on the radar here, and the beer is poured quickly in to variable levels. You get what you get!
In most outlets, you pick a table and wait. A waiter (referred to as "Kobe", short for Jakob, a legend lost in the mists of time) will bring you a glass of beer, pop it on a beer mat and mark your mat with a thick pencil.
When you have finished your drink, the same waiter will offer you another and make a second mark on the mat. When you have decided to move on, you pay him at the table.
Set on a prominent crossroads (Rheinstrasse and Bergerstrasse)
in the pedestrianised part of the old town, it is close to the shops and
can hardly be missed.
The beer (4.7% alcohol) is dark and complex and enjoyed by a wide cross-section of society. Locals of all ages and types rub shoulders contentedly with wide-eyed tourists and the occasional purring CAMRA member.
A variety of bar meals can be ordered, but my favourite is simple, cheap and tasty; the Leberwurst (liver sausage) is made in the on-site butchers. Served with a round of rye bread, it seems to complement the beer perfectly.
Zum Uerige is redolent with character in all of the rooms; every one of which is different. Stained glass windows illuminate wood-panelled walls and stone floors in this charming and historic building.
The pub exudes history and is a superb place to relax for a while away from the hustle and bustle of the street. Dating back at least as far as 1658, it has watched a lot of hurrying while retaining its sense of calm.
One room has the appearance of a roofed-over courtyard and has a view of the copper brewing kit.
This is my favourite pub in the world.
The house brewed beer is served from wooden or plastic casks on the central bar.
The rest of the extensive pub goes back a long way.
The food is excellent; we ordered a meal here one evening and it was tasty and hugely fiilling.
Beer is served from the wood, but is brewed off-site by Schlussel just over the road.
The beer is dispensed on the left as you go in, but the pub goes back a long way from the street.
Zum Schiffchen web-site
The only outlet not in the Altstadt itself, but only a few minutes walk away, toward the station.
Carsch Haus food market
This is a real surprise. It is a department store with a food market in the basement.
However, one of the outlets has a bar and serves Uerige beer from a wooden cask on the bar.
What better way to take a break from the shopping; pick up a snack and a drop of lovely beer.
Even better, it is the only outlet we know for the unfiltered bottles of Uerige. (The ones you can buy at the pub are filtered) Practice your German on the barman and pick up a bottle or two to take home.