We can’t believe that, with all our trips to Cologne, including a couple of dedicated Koelsch crawls, we’ve not made it to the Paeffgen brewery tap before. Perhaps it’s because it’s a bit out of the way; or perhaps it’s because we hadn’t done our research — Ron Pattinson calls it a “European must visit”.
Anyway, we made it right on our most recent trip, and were glad we did. For one thing, the beer is superb — honeyed and spicy — very much like an English ale, but also distinctly not. We’ve had it before and liked it but, here, it was stunning.
We loved observing the way the place is run, too. All the Kobes (waiters) compete for the same barrel, half-filling glasses in a kranz, then letting it sit in a funny kind of urinal until they’re ready to go, when they top them off. The supervisor barks at them from his perch as they pass, making them stop so he can count the number of glasses they’re taking, presumably as some kind of fraud control, but alsoperhaps so they know when the barrel needs changing. And when that happens, with lots of chains and an electric winch, it’s quite a thing to behold.
Interestingly, this was one of the few times we’ve been in a Cologne beer hall at a quiet time and it seems to mean you wait a lot longer for your beers — if there isn’t an absolute kranzload of punters, you have to wait until there is.