We got up early this morning for a hearty breakfast before a quick train ride to Koln (Cologne). There we met up with Heinz, a Koln native, and veteran of the beer market research industry in Germany. He was our guide today for a tour of the many different Kölsch offerings available.
Interesting side note: Some time in the 1960’s all of the Kölsch breweries in Koln signed the Kölsch Konvention. This made Kölsch the official beer of Koln, and decreed that no one outside of the city limits of Koln, and no one who didn’t sign the initial Konvention, could brew a beer in that style and call it Kölsch. Of the 24 who signed the original convention, a few have since closed down, and the rest maintain the Kölsch brewing tradition. Kölsch is also known as the youngest beer style in Germany.
In short, this was a long day of tasting. In the order we tried them, we were able to sample Früh, Sion, Malz Muhlen, Päffgen, Gilden, Pfaffen, Gaffel, and Peter’s. We were also able to sneak in a bottle of Pfaffen Bock to share between the group.
Horst and Heinz are good friends and some times collaborators on different projects and convention presentations, so to watch the two of them re-live memories and make new ones was a lot of fun. I think we planned at least six new brewing ventures of different sorts over the course of the day. It’s amazing what a little bit of liquid inspiration can do for some brewers and some marketing geniuses. I’m sure if we had one more day we would have solved world hunger and put a colony on Mars. Unfortunately we only had aout 7 hours together, so we stuck to what we all knew best.
Two things to note in the picture above: The trays are made to hold the traditional 200ml glasses that Kölsch is served in, without exception in our experience. The booth on the left of the picture is called “the confessional”. In times past these were used by patrons who had endured a particularly bad day and wanted some privacy to drown there sorrows. They would use this area to sit, undisturbed, while they relieved some stress.
Upon returning to Düsseldorf, Gord, Horst and myself were able to enjoy a quick, traditional German meal that will hopefully provide strength for tomorrow. That is when we finally make our way in to the Zum Schlüssel brewhouse to finally begin the practical portion of our schooling adventure. We’ve got lots of ideas of how the day may go, but I think we’re both very excited to see how things actually unfold when we get to learn from one of the masters of Altbier and hteir 150+ years of experience.