Friday, June 5, 2009

The Session #28 – Think/Drink Globally

For this month's Session, hosted by Brian over at Red, White and Brew we get geographical: Brian asked us to write about "the farthest brewery (including brewpubs) you have visited and specifically the best beer you had there."

A quick consultation with my memory banks and a map tells me it's Zum Uerige in Dusseldorf, Germany. That's about 4,350 miles from my current location in Columbia, S.C. For purposes of this exercise, farther still as I was living in Houston at the time of my visit – that's a 5,130-ish-mile trek.

The best beer I had there? Naturally, that would be ZU's famous Altbier, served straight from the cask outside on Berger Straße, in the picturesque, stone-paved setting of Düsseldorf's Altstadt. I've hinted at my affinity for Altbiers before, with ZU serving as some not-so-insignificant inspiration (not that my homemade crack at the style came anywhere close).

Liz enjoying ZU Weisse on Berger Straße

The Altstadt (literally, "Old Town") section of Düsseldorf is known for its picturesque buildings, its side streets crammed with bars and restaurants, its view of the Rhine, and of course, its tasty Altbier. Sadly, I did not visit the other Alt-producing brewpubs in the area – Im Füchschen and Zum Schlüssel round out the Altstad trio; Schumacher, the oldest such pub, is not far away – but did sample some of the other commercial examples – Frankenheim and Schlösser, if I recall. (Boy, sounds like I didn't exactly take full advantage of my visit to one of the world's great beer cities, eh?)

Nor did I spend much time inside Zum Uerige itself, such was the pleasantness of the scene outdoors. Had I taken more than a brief walk inside, I might have seen where that shiny new brewing equipment being moved into the building via crane was headed. (Left: Here I am standing next to some.) The interior of the building is quaint, pub-like and old-timey, with wood everywhere and an intimate feel, befitting its Altstadt surroundings.

So what would a return trip to the Düsselforf region call for? Doubtless, a closer look at the historic Alt breweries that give us such wonderful German ale. And how about a short trip south to visit neighboring – and big-time rival, so they say – Köln (Cologne to us Anglophones), another of Germany's historic brewing centers and home of the delicate, lager-like Kölsch. In a land prized for its stellar lagers, it's remarkable that such a relatively small slice of Germany has given us two of the world's great ale styles. I'd say that's worth the trip for any beer traveller

Spent grain is hauled out to the sidewalk in large bins. Some of it stays behind.


Michael Reinhardt said...

It's disgusting how jealous I can get by just looking at a few pictures of people being in Germany. Cheers! You lucky devils

Brad said...

It was pretty dope. Though, the weather was lousy in Munich, which hampered biergarten time severely. I'd like to go back and really do it up. Also, Bamberg and Berlin would be nice...

Michael Reinhardt said...

We just went to London and a couple of other places and I found some good stuff, but Germany would be nice. We plan on hitting Belgium and Germany both on the next time around...two or three years, perhaps. I'm definitely "doing it up", as you said. Hopefully some Westvleteren is in my near future.

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