This will be our ninth visit to Germany, which ties it with Ireland as the country we most frequently visit. The beer, food, scenery and German people keep us returning to our favorite country for beer travel.
But this trip is extra special. We are going over for our friend Wolfgang’s 50th birthday party. We’ll join the horde of his friends descending on Mannheim the last weekend in July for fun, merriment and punk show.
Prior to Wolfgang’s birthday party weekend, we are stopping in Munich and embarking on a “City with a Beer Style” tour. We will visit three German cities: Dortmund, Düsseldorf and Cologne. Each has it’s own unique style of beer.
We are using our short time in the much beloved city of Munich to get our European legs, visit a few biergartens, see friends, and of course drink some liters.
While in Munich we’ll make another pilgrimage to Kloster Andechs. The trek was something we used to fit in to our schedule every time in Munich, but on our last few visits we haven’t had the time. The walk, beer, food, and atmosphere all make Kloster Andechs one our favorite breweries.
After getting adjusted to being back in Europe, we head north for some new beer adventures.
Our first new city will be Dortmund. There we’ll search for Dortmunder, which is a native beer style, not a city resident. Back in the day, this beer was popular with the region’s coal miners and steel workers. Think of Dortmunder as a cross between a Helles and a Pilsner.
Unfortunately, over the last decades, the style has suffered the ill effects of brewery mergers. The two major breweries in Dortmund, DAB and DUB, have gobbled up the smaller competitors. The style that put Dormund on the beer map is now only a small portion of their production. Today, a few private breweries are trying to revive this brew and restore it to it’s past glory.
From Dortmund, we travel down the road to Düsseldorf, the home of the top fermented Altbier. Alt means ‘old’ and the name is simply a reference to the fact that the brew predates bottom fermenting beers.
Unlike it’s neighbor in Dortmund, Altbier is thriving in Düsseldorf, with breweries in the Altstadt serving the copper-colored brew from wooden barrels.
Our last stop on the ‘German Cities with a Beer Style’ tour is Cologne, the home of Kölsch. Another top fermenting brew, the golden-hued Kölsch may be the ultimate session beer. It certainly makes for a enjoyable afternoon with friends.
The waiters buzz around with their trays, called a Kranz, filled with 7 ounce glasses, called a Stange, of Kölsch. They dispense the brew with amazing speed. Once a Stange is empty they drop off a new beer, adding a tick mark to the beer mat. The beer deliveries stop and the ritual comes to an end when the mat is placed on top of the glass. Our last time at Früh am Dom, one of Cologne’s main Kölsch bars, six of us finished with 40 tick marks on our mat.
After Cologne, we are off to Mannheim for three days of revelry celebrating Wolfie’s 50th birthday. Interspersed with the beer drinking, there will be a couple of brewery visits.
The culmination of our trip is a punk show headlined by The Dreadnoughts, an Irish punk band from Vancouver, BC. A good time is sure to be had by all.
We hope to add a dozen new breweries to the list, which will put us within sight of reaching 500 by the end of the year.