Categories
Germany

Still more to enjoy in Cologne

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.

Categories
Germany pubs

Cologne: not just about the Koelsch

freischems

We end up in Cologne so often these days  on our way in and out of Germany that it’s a struggle to find new pubs or beers to try. This time, however, we spotted an advert for Freischem’s Brauhaus on a free city map and trekked out of the immediate city centre in the rain to give it a go.

It was huge and mostly empty — because it was 4.30 on a wet Sunday afternoon or because it only opened a month or two ago? The beer list immediately had us a little excited. It included a Koelsch, of course, but also something called Trub, a weizen, a Christmas beer and a stout.

The Koelsch was of the slightly darker, honey-tasting variety (see also Paeffgen) and very pleasant. Trub was, unsurprisingly, a cloudy light beer — their answer to the bland brauhaus zwickl and perfectly drinkable, if unexciting. The weizen ticked all the usual boxes.

Weihnachtsbier was a nice red colour with a good spicy aroma. We were split on this one, though. Boak thought it was dull, verging on unpleasant, with an off yeast flavour and not much more. Bailey could taste roasted malt and liked the bitterness.

The stout was the stand-out beer, though. We really weren’t expecting much — a boring schwarzbier, perhaps? — but it had a good thick body, a creamy chocolate flavour and a great roasted bitter aftertaste. We’d have enjoyed this anywhere but, by German brewpub standards, it was a knockout.

Given that it wasn’t far away, we also staged a return visit to Hellers, where there were a couple of new beers for us to try as well as some old favourites. Winterbock was an amateur take on Aventinus, with all the right clove and fruit flavours but  with absolutely no condition. Pity, as this would be stunning otherwise. The new bottled Pils was very good — bitter, but not especially hoppy, and so malty it tasted like mashing grain.

Bottles of Hellers Wiess (the unfiltered Koelsch) are currently on sale at Cask, the excellent pub in Pimlico we wrote about here.

Categories
News

Adnams get experimental

adnams

It’s easy to think of Adnams as a rather stolid, big, unexciting regional brewery. They have some lovely branding and design and have been very innovative in ‘green brewing’ but, nonetheless, the beers of their’s you see most commonly in London are quite conservative in their flavour.

They’ve obviously decided to go beyond Bitter/Broadside/blonde beer, though, and (with thanks to Steve the Beer Justice for the tip off) are now brewing a wide range of monthly specials in continental styles, starting with a Koelsch-style beer.

Next month, they’re rolling out a Belgian abbey-type ale, and there are German and Belgian-style wheat beers in the pipeline. They’re also going to take on Guinness next spring with a dry stout.

Innovation doesn’t just need to mean ‘turning up the volume’ or putting coconut in your beer — more subtle experiments with hops and yeast can be just as mind-expanding — so we’re looking forward to trying these.

We emailed Adnams to ask where these beers will be on sale in London, and Danielle sent us this list:

The Carpenters Arms
73 Cheshire Street, E2    6EG

The Brewery Tap
69 High Street
Wimbledon Village, SW19  5EE

The Queens Arms
11 Warwick Way
Pimlico, SW1V  1QT

The Wenlock Arms
26 Wenlock Road, N1    7TA

The Old Dairy
1-3 Crouch Hill, N4    4AP

The Pineapple Public House
51 Leverton Street
Kentish Town, NW5   2NX

The Wimbledon Club
Church Road, SW19  5AG

Categories
Beer styles bottled beer Germany

We have a winner: best British Koelsch Klone

A few months ago, we spotted that Young’s bottled Kew Brew (now “Kew Gold”) is a dead ringer for a decent draught Koelsch. We tested that theory again this week and are now prepared to say, outright, that it’s the best substitute for draught Koelsch you can get in the UK.

Filtered, pasteurised bottles of Frueh just don’t compare. It’s even better than Meantime’s slightly bland effort.

Categories
Germany The Session

The Session #19 – German beer

The cap from a bottle of Rothaus Tanen Zapfle
The cap from a bottle of Rothaus Tannen-Zaepfle beer

This month’s Session has been set by Lootcorp 3.0 and is on the subject of German beer.

…the goal is to dig a little deeper and write about how German beers and beer culture have worked their way into your life (and hearts)…

We’ve already blogged about this — our conversion to good beer took place in Germany, so it’s a pretty key part of our beer-drinking lives. We try to go there at least once a year, and I’ve even started learning German so I can have all those fascinating conversations with Franconian brewers about their mashing schedules.

It’s a bit easier to get a regular dose of German beer culture in London, now that Zeitgeist has opened up. So to celebrate this month’s session, so we popped along there.

Zeitgeist is aimed at homesick Germans, so the beer list reflects what Germans actually drink. Therefore most of what’s on offer is the usual mass-produced, nationally available lagers — Bitburger, Warsteiner, Koenig Pils etc. In a shrewd move, reflecting the tendency of Germans to boast about their local beer, they also offer a number of big “regionals” – eg Gaffel Koelsch (on tap), Schloesser Alt and Tannen-Zaepfle, by the Baden-Wuerttenberg state-owned brewery.

Last night, we had a little virtual tour round Germany. We started in the former DDR, with Wernesgruener, before moving to the far north-east west for some Jever (seriously cheesy website, BTW). I don’t think we’ve actually blogged about this before, which is surprising, given how much we drink it. There’s just something about its bitter kick that makes us come back for more. Tastes a bit like hay, in a good way.

Gaffel Koelsch went down well. While it’s not our favourite koelsch, we prefer drinking this one fresh out of the barrel than drinking a tired bottle of a better one. It’s always refreshing, and drinking it next to Wernesgruener and Jever brings out the malty, fruity flavours.

Then down to Baden-Wuerttenburg, where we sampled Eichbaum and Rothaus Tannen-Zaepfle. The Eichbaum was pretty dull (too much hopfenekstrakt and no hops?) and the TZ was OK. When we were on holiday in Heidelberg, we drank it there and noted that it’s a lot fruitier than other pils. It’s drinkable enough, but really not terribly exciting, unless you’re from the area and feeling homesick.

Finally, into Bavaria for Schlenkerla Maerzen. Mmmmm. Frazzles and fruit. Does it for me every time.

Boak