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2007 Dusseldorf


Paul V, Ray, Mick, Dave, Terry, Frank, John, Paul C and Ron


This trip we aimed to cover more of the area from a base in
Düsseldorf and try the ‘other’ specialist beer of the region - Alt.



4th to 8th October

We have travelled through this German State on a few occasions and had sampled the delights of Cologne and its Kölsch beers in 2003.

This trip we aimed to cover more of the area from a base in Düsseldorf and try the ‘other’ specialist beer of the region - Alt.

Alt is an unusual beer for Germany in that it is top fermented, copper in colour, dry and with a hoppy finish, although it is still lagered before serving. It is often thought to be the closest continental beer to British ale. But would we like it?


The famous five went to Düsseldorf by plane. By mid afternoon we had booked almost all of our party into the Domo Hotel Mondial (Sheurenstrasse 4) located on the 5th floor upwards of a small high rise near the Hauptbahnhof. A short time later we were back at the station and off to Cologne to meet up with the train travellers.

Arriving at Die Hausbrauerei Päffgen (Freisenstrasse 64-66) we found the adventurous four enjoying their second Kölsch in this extremely typical German brewery tap - plenty of scrubbed white pine tables, wood panelling, blue aproned kobes (waiters) and beer served straight from the barrel. The brewery is at the rear of the premises and can be viewed from the covered courtyard. We had missed this brewery tap on our Cologne trip (it is a bit out of the centre) but it is well worth seeking out as it serves one of the best examples of Kölsch we have tried.

After a few beers we gave Ron the news that he had booked into a different hotel, the Hotel Mondial, across the square from the Domo. He seemed quite happy about this little hiccup. After a few more beers, well 57 in Päffgen to be precise, we moved onto another Kölsch brewery ignored on our previous trips, the Brauhaus Gaststätte Schreckenskammer (Ursulagartenstrasse 11-15). Located in a much more modern building and perhaps lacking some of the character of Früh or Päffgen, it still served an excellent Kölsch which, according to the locals we met, is the best there is. Some 43 beers later we agreed.

Heading back to Dusseldorf we arranged to meet up in Brauerei Schumacher (Oststrasse 123), located on the way from the station to the old town, for our first taste of Alt. This is again a very typical Rhineland brewery tap with a number of large rooms set out with the pine tables. The kobes in Dusseldorf are as surly as those in Cologne but both keep the beer coming at regular intervals.
Most of Dusseldorf’s brewpubs are located in the old town (Altstadt) and we headed there next. Zum Uerige (Bergerstrasse 1) is perhaps the most well known of the Alt breweries and occupies a large corner site near the Rathaus (town hall). With possibly even more shades of brown here than in any other bar in Dusseldorf, we settled near the beer servery and managed to get a few beers in before it closed at 12 o’clock.

Heading out into the night, we aimed for the Ratingerstrasse area where three of the recommended bars are located. Unfortunately, only one was open, Kreuzherreneck (Altstadt 14). This is a tiny corner pub with just a couple of tables and a few barstools but carrying an amazing array of spirit bottles behind the bar. This, and a very enthusiastic owner, tempted some away from the Frankenheim Alt and onto the schnapps though even Dave found the chilli variety a bit too much. Vowing to return for the live band on Saturday we headed home. And that was that for most of us. But not all. Three carried on to some of the more nefarious venues near our hotel for some lap warming. Yes, as usual our hotels were right in the middle of the red light district.

After starting on Kölsch it was a bit difficult to assess the merits of Alt on this first tasting. Further investigation was required.


Dawned sunny and quite warm. Excellent weather for a day out in Ratingen. On arrival Tel and Paul C, who had visited earlier in the year, led us to our intended first port of call, the Ratinger Brauhaus. Unfortunately this brewpub did not open until 4 o’clock.
Moving on towards the centre of town, you come to a lovely half- timbered building occupied by the Suitbertus-Stuben (Oberstrasse 23). Inside, the dark wood panelling suits the quiet atmosphere of this mainly eating establishment, occupying three floors. Drinkers are catered for with a standing room only table near the serving area, where Uerige Alt is dispensed direct from the barrel. We were tempted by the menu to stay and eat here but in the end moved on to the market square where three of the recommended bars are located.

Occupying a corner site the Schlüssel am Markt ‘Zu den drei Konigen’ (Düsseldorfer Strasse 1) looks older than the date of 1979 proudly displayed on the outside though, of course, the interior boasts the usual wood panelling and scrubbed pine tables. The day’s special board included roast pork knuckle with beer gravy and this time, giving in to the temptation to stay and eat, we washed the food down with Schlussel Alt.

Across the square is Diebels am Markt (Marktplatz 10) that, unfortunately, at the time of our visit, only served the beer (from the region’s largest Alt brewer) under pressure.

We gave it a miss and moved onto Burgerhaus Ratingen (Marktplatz 1). You cannot miss this Brauereiausschank which occupies the old town hall buildings and along with the next-door church dominates the square. The ground floor has a circular servery where the draught Frankenheim Alt is dispensed direct from the cask. Over the bar hangs the inverted top of a large brewing kettle. We found a table in the alcove to the left of the bar. The walls here, covered with old framed pictures of boys and young men, were dominated by a large 1930’s style poster showing the rear view of three blonde and bronzed naked men holding enormous beer bottles. All a bit homoerotic for our taste. The locals informed us the other bar we had intended to visit, Talschlösschen, did not open until the evening, so we decided to give it a miss and enjoy a longer session here until the Ratinger Brauhaus opened.

The pleasurable smells of brewing greeted our return to the Ratinger Brauhaus (Bahnstrasse 15). The small brewing vessels are in the corner of the bar and the brewer was giving a demonstration. Previously known as Schinderhannes, this new microbrewery was started in 2005 and now has a beer garden out in the country as well as the town bar. After a pleasant drink of this rather good example of Alt we headed back to the station and Dusseldorf. Overall we were rather taken with Ratingen.

Needing a change from Alt we started the evening at Paulaner Botschaft (Hüttenstrasse 30). Although all the big Munich breweries used to maintain outlets in most of the larger German cities only Paulaner have kept their estate. Their Dusseldorf bar occupies a modern building near the main station and is split into two areas, the bar where the locals were drinking and a restaurant area, which was devoid of life apart from a small party eating in the corner. We were shown to the restaurant area under the large fake tree from whose branches loud music was piped. With the lack of atmosphere, we were a little unsettled and left after trying the gassed Hefeweizen Naturtrub.

Heading towards the Altstadt, Dave had one of his movement moments and we dived into Im Weissen Bären (Bolkerstrasse 43-47) to alleviate the pressure. This busy bar on the street of many bars turned out to be one of our recommended pubs as it served the Schlösser Alt direct from the barrel on the bar. The only problems, if seen as such, were the extremely crowded bar counter and very loud rock music vying with shouted conversations. Fortunately, the rear of this long and narrow pub was nearly empty and you could at least hear yourself think, so we stayed for a couple.
We carried on to north edge of the Altstadt and the two bars that were closed when sought the previous night.

Brauerei Zur Uel (Ratingerstrasse 16) is a former brewery, which has been modernised and appeals to a younger crowd than the more traditional taverns. It now looks rather tired. We settled in next to a table enjoying a hen party and they eventually asked us to support the party by ‘buying’ sweets and cheese. It was unlucky that the first contributor had nothing smaller than a €5 note, which set the rate for the rest of the table. Never mind, the mini Babybel was nice as was the Füchschen Alt. John voted it the best Alt he had tried so far.

Just as well as the next bar was the Brauerei im Füchschen (Ratingerstrasse 28) itself. Outside and by the servery there are the standing only tables while further into this old pub-brewery there are many different rooms including a glass roofed conservatory to the rear, which is where we found some room. This old fox is as traditional as these places get. Just note, as Mike now knows, that although the men’s toilet door has as very large handle to pull, it opens inwards.

Back towards the middle of the Altstadt we visited our last Alt brewery of the day, Brauerei Zum Schlüssel (Bolkerstrasse 43-47). The frontage of ‘The Key’ belies its truly cavernous interior, which seems to have recently been refurbished as all the pine looked pristine. By this late time, the place was nearly empty and we had no difficulty finding a table near the beer serving area. One barrel was replaced by another a lot smaller, a good indicator they intended to close soon. Nevertheless, we did have enough time for a few Alts and a couple of schnapps to finish, while discussing whose turn it was to accompany Dave to the very late nightclubs found yesterday. In the end no one went.


Dawned sunny and quite warm. Excellent weather for our trip to Krefeld and the brewery tour. As the only booked event of our trip everyone was wearing their Mengo Drinking 25th Anniversary polo shirts. Everyone except Frank, that is, who had contrived to leave his at home.

After a pleasant walk, with even time for a coffee on the way, we arrived at Brauerei-Ausschank August Gleumes (Sternstrasse 12-14) at the appointed time of midday to be greeted by Yannis. We had booked the top of the range tour, which included the brewery visit, tasting and lunch. However, it soon became clear we would have difficulty as our tour guide, Josef, spoke no English and our German was very limited despite the translations we had of common brewing terms. Our fault really as we had booked by Email using extremely good German thanks to a fluent friend. Yannis decided we should go ahead and have a look round the brewery but for no charge as long as we returned to the Ausschank to eat. We agreed that would not be a problem.

Gleumes produce their beers in the same way as the other Alt breweries of the region; a primary top fermentation followed by a long, slow secondary fermentation at a very low temperature i.e. it is lagered. They produce three regular beers, an amber coloured Alt called Lager, a pale top fermented pilsner Hell and unfiltered pale wheat Weizen. They also turn out regular seasonal beers, which during October is Festbier, a dark malty brew.

After a Lager sampler in the bar we moved next door to the brewery where Josef thought the best way to start the tour was another sample. Josef was an extremely amiable guide and showed us the whole operation. He was particularly enthusiastic about the machine used to fill the barrels and we got several demonstrations of the compressed air lines. As it turned out, the only difficulty experienced during the tour was the small entrance to the cellars that the larger members of our party only just managed to negotiate.

After a couple more Lagers we moved back to the bar/restaurant for lunch and to try the rest of their range. The beers were served on a long piece of wood with ten cut-outs, which Yannis insisted on filling every time even though there were only nine of us. We enjoyed all the beer styles but liked the Lager the most.

The food was very good as well. Ray had yet another Schweinshaxe (one of the bar’s specialities), Terry’s soup was more like a stew and Dave tried a dish that translated as three different meats plus meat and bacon. Typical German fare then.
After thanking Yannis and Josef and settling the €165 tab (very reasonable for the 50 beers charged for and nine meals) we set off for Dachsbau, whose website promised eighteen different draught beers. Due to a lack of planning we found the bar was closed.

There was nothing for it but to move on to our next town.
It seems the plaza outside Duisberg station is the local meeting place for Emo’s, a sort of Goth. Rather a colourful scene, apart from them being mainly dressed in black that is. First up was Brauhaus Schacht 4/8 (Düsseldorfer Strasse 21), named after a local mine.
This microbrewery is located in a large stone building with very high ceilings and themed with mining and brewing items, including part of a mine railway on the wall. It felt like you were in a bank and this may well have been the building’s prior use. Four different brews were on offer and we tried the Naturtrubes Helles, called Grubengold and the Mulvany Dunkles, neither of which we found enthralling.

Next up was the Webster-Brauhaus (Dellplatz 14), a large brewpub in a modern building. The copper vessels are on display in the bar and parts of the rest of the brewery can be viewed when visiting the downstairs toilets. They were getting ready for the evening bookings and unloading the band’s equipment when we arrived and we had to make do with a table outside. Only two of their beers were available, the Blond (Pils) and Braun (Dark lager). While all the rest tried the pils, Frank went straight for the dark, which he voted the best beer of the day so far.

On the way back to the station we stopped off at Heinrich’s im Wickuler (Königstrasse 78), a modern bar with a good line in plastic décor but it does offer nine draught beers, including three dark ones. We all seemed to want a different beer but the waitresses were efficient and dealt with the muddled order amiably.

Back in Dusseldorf we arranged to meet at Brauerei Schumacher. Being Saturday, the bar was heaving but Dave had managed to secure one of the standing only tables by the windows. After a couple of beers we set out to find Monopoly but, without the address and only a sketchy map, we failed and carried on towards the Altstadt. Eventually we reached the Rhine and tried to figure out how the digital clock on the tower worked. Not sure we were entirely successful here. We looked in at Brauerei im Goldenen Ring (Burgplatz 21-22), which ceased brewing in the early 1970’s but as the Schlösser Alt was only available under pressure we gave it a miss. We then tried Kreuzherreneck but with the live music and the diminutive size of the bar, we could not even get in the door.
The pavement outside Brauerei Zur Uel was packed with drinkers and inside was little better but the waiter found us some room by moving a couple of girls (who we thanked with a couple of Killepitsch) and we settled in for a few Fuchschen Alts. The Killer Pitsch was just one drink on a long list displayed on the wall and this variety probably accounted for the bar's popularity with the younger crowd.

At eleven o’clock Brauerei im Füchschen, which caters for an older clientele, was slowly emptying and we had no difficulty in locating ourselves in the conservatory. Is there any difference between the Alt served in The Fox from that served in The Owl? Not that we could tell at this stage of the day.

Brauerei Zum Schlüssel caters for an even older crowd and was virtually empty by the time we got there. The Key, with an ‘easy’ Alt to drink, is a good brewery to finish in, particularly as the Pear William schnapps served is rather pleasant. The group then started to break up and only five managed a final few beers in Im Weissen Bären, where there were again no takers for an extension in the clubs near our hotel.


If it was Sunday then we were due in Dortmund. And shortly before noon on this sunny and bright day, we were. On the approach to the station you see the big ‘U’ sitting proudly atop the Dortmunder Union brewery. Sadly that is now the only proud part of this brewery as it has closed with DUB production transferred to the Dortmunder Actien brewery.

Still, there are now a couple of brewpubs in the city and it was to one of these we headed first.

Hövels Hausbrauerei (Hoher Wall 5-7) occupies a large modern building on the edge of the city centre. There is a bar area to the left of the entrance with a much larger restaurant area to the right and rear. Originally planning to try only the beers we settled in the bar area, but changed our minds and ordered food when the waiter put the Arsenal v Sunderland game on the TV. The food was pretty standard German fare; the outstanding item being the bread baked using the brewers yeast.

The brewery, established in 1893, offered three beers, Original Bitterbier, Dortmunder Zwickelbier (an unfiltered light beer) and the current seasonal, Festbier. All the beers were very nice but Ray was particularly enthusiastic about the ‘naturtrub’. The tall one amongst us did suddenly down his glass and leap from his bar stool with a bout of cramp only to be soothed by the advice that he should have taken more liquids!

After Arsenal completed their usual lucky win we moved into the centre and Wenkers am Markt (Betenstrasse 1), a brewpub occupying a truly awful modern concrete and glass building on the corner of the Market Square. Despite the usual pine topped tables and floating hop garlands you could not escape the modern feel of this establishment seeming to lack any atmosphere. We tried both the Wenkers draughts on offer, the Urtrub (an unfiltered cloud of gas) and Schwarzbier (a gassy brown and mild).

The Market Square was occupied by the Pfefferpotthast-Fest and we skirted around the food marquees to our next destination, Der Thüringer (Markt 13). The bar occupies a wide but shallow frontage onto the square with tables tumbling outside. There is a large restaurant downstairs. With the festival going on in the square all the bars were very busy but we managed to get some seats around a high table complete with fake cowhide stools. The Clarissen Alt we tried was acceptable.

Again, Zum Alten Markt (Markt 3) occupies a modern building, but here they have made a big effort to recreate the past and the interior is panelled in dark wood and has a very traditional feel. The ground floor is given over to drinking with a restaurant upstairs on a mezzanine floor. Five draught beers are on offer and we tried a very pleasant Thier Pils.

On the way back to the station we called in at Hopfendolde Dortmund (Hansastrasse 24), a bar with nice lines in plastic seating and enamel signs which suited the attitude of our waitress. Her demeanour and that of the locals was not enhanced when Dave thought a newly arrived beer was ours when in fact it belonged to the large man standing behind him. We had hoped to get the advertised Dortmund Export beer here but had to settle for an uninspiring Brinkhoff’s No.1. Apart from Frank that is, who wisely tried the Schufferhofer Hefeweisen Dunkel.

All the way to Dortmund and no Export! Fortunately two of us found some DAB Export in the City Threff bar at the Hauptbahnhof and just had time for one before the train back to Dusseldorf.

The final evening’s drinking beckoned but the party was beginning to flag. Paul C decided to stay in and Ray wanted to watch the Rugby World Cup in an Irish bar in the Altstadt. Few of the rest wanted the walk out to the final brewpub and so we split up. One group headed for Monopoly, whose true location had been ascertained earlier in the day, while the intrepid three headed out through the dimly lit back streets to Frankenheim Brauereiausschank (Wielandstrasse 12). The layout was typical of the Alt brewpubs with an area to the front left and adjacent to the servery, given over to standing only tables with the more restaurant orientated rooms to the front right and rear of the building. We stayed near the front and tried a very good Alt direct from the barrel. Surprisingly for an Alt brewery tap, other beers were on offer, Warsteiner pils and Frankenheim Blue. Terry opted for a coffee and Paul V stayed with the Alt but Frank felt more adventurous and tried the Blue. We did wonder why the waiter seemed amused at this order, until it arrived that is. Frankenheim Blue turns out to be their low alcohol beer, 2.9% ABV and made up of 60% Alt plus 40% Coca-Cola.

Hoping to catch up with the rest of the group we three then headed for Monopoly only to find it closed. Terry left us here. Paul V and Frank carried on to the centre and decided on one last Füchschen. The bar was virtually empty this Sunday evening and we settled by the serving area. After one beer they changed the barrel and our next beers were the first out. You can’t get anything fresher and it was lovely. Paul V voted it the best Alt he had tried. Frank thought the Blue had been better.

Paul had arranged to meet Ray in Uerige and pitching up there, we found the rest of the die-hards had also managed to find him. This bar was also deserted and we enjoyed a quiet last few beers before heading back.


After waving goodbye to the train travellers the five flyers headed for the airport. John left for his flight Up North and the remaining aviators ventured to the upstairs restaurant for lunch and a farewell Frankenheim Alt.

After an uneventful flight and coach transfer to Woking the flying four caught up with the railway children for our after trip photo at Aldershot station.

So, yes, we did like Alt well enough but a few more alternative beer styles would not have gone amiss.

Created on 11/25/2007 04:32 PM by drinking
Updated on 11/25/2007 05:43 PM by drinking
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