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Real Ale in Germany

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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)
Some places have casks of seasonal specialities at certain times of year and we look forward to passing news on to you. One city where cask ale is available all the time is Dusseldorf, where the "Alt" tradition of top-fermented ales is strikingly different from the bottom-fermented lager styles found in most of the country. For a comprehensive and useful web-site, visit europeanbeerguide.net but in the mean time, here are our impressions.

A remarkable city with a pleasant old town (the "Altstadt") blessed with a number of outlets for the real thing, making impromptu pub crawls a pleasing possibility.

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!

However the price is reasonable, the quality and strength are high and Trading Standards don't seem to mind!

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.

Zum Uerige web-site
The best of them all; do not miss this. If you only have the time or the brownie points to visit one pub, make this the one.

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.

Brilliant beer brewed on the premises and served from the wood. Turnover is so good that barrels are rolled through from the cold store by apron-clad waiters and set up on the stillages in at least two rooms with remarkable frequency.

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.






Zum Schlussel
The Key
43-47 Bolkerstrasse

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.











Goldenen Kessel
The Golden Cauldron
44 Bolkerstrasse

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.




Im Fuchschen
The Little Fox
28 Ratinger Strasse


In the north-eastern part of the Altstadt. More beer brewed on the premises, served from the wood and very good. The food looked good.
The standing bar is straight ahead, while on the left is a large drinking and eating room.




Diebels Fasskeller
Diebels draught bar
14-16 Bolkerstrasse


Less character than the others; more of a young person's venue, but friendly staff serving good Diebels Alt bier from plastic casks.





Zum Schiffchen web-site
The Little Ship
3-7 Hafenstrasse
More of a restaurant, and they discourage drinkers who are not eating. Frankenheim Alt from the wood is sometimes available but not always.
Restricted opening hours here; it was closed on a Sunday evening when I called.


Schumacher Brauerei
123 Oststrasse

The only outlet not in the Altstadt itself, but only a few minutes walk away, toward the station.

This is a big food-oriented place, but with a good standing bar on the left. Beer from the co-located brewery is served from the wood.




Carsch Haus food market
Heinrich-Heine-Platz 1

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.



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All rights reserved. Last Revised: July 13, 2009
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