First an intro to the page. I've tried to stay true to the town and use terms and spelling properly. Cologne is Köln, prices are in Euros (€) and a waiter is a Köbe (roughly 'cube').
There were two reasons I decided not to try and evaluate beers as if I were judging. First this was a vacation and spending that kind of type in evaluation would be extremely uncool. Second was the prevalence of smoking in Europe and our desire to sit outside as often as possible.
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|A||Die Hausbrauerei Päffgen
A very cool brauhaus . This was our favorite stop in Köln. Two large rooms with white pine topped tables stretch the length of the pub. A small courtyard area is behind the pub where Kölsch is served in the warmer days of the summer. On the backside of the courtyard is the brewhaus. Information I found on the web suggests this might be the smallest brewery in Köln with 6000 hectliters in annual production. This was the only pub we visited in Köln that did not serve their Kölsch in a branded stange.
|This is a Päffgen Kölsch.
Golden and clear with thick white head of tiny bubbles producing some lacing. Slight noble hop spiciness and pilsner malt grain on the nose. Very subdued esters. No fruity esters. This beer smells like a pils. Citrus and ginger were described by Madeline. Creamy medium-light body. Perception of gravity is in the 11-13 range. Bitterness seems to be in the mid twenties. Finish is noticeably bitter after eating the Hollander cheese. Slightly less carbonated than I expected. Since it was served from the barrel and we were there early in the day there could have been a loss of carbonation overnight or it could be a less carbonated example at this brewery.
A bargain at 1.60€. Eventually I had to put the coaster on the glasses to stop them from delivering more. This is the accepted method of indicating STOP! in Köln.
These Köbes were great! Peter is on the left and Holgn on the right. I think Peter is the more traditional Köbe. He was more than happy to keep setting down fresh beers as our current Kölsch hit the third full mark.
Both Köbes were willing to look at the pub crawl I had laid out. Hogn suggested we stop at Sion and marked it for us on the map.
Holgn took us on a tour after we convinced Peter we were done. He described the brewing process as we looked at the brewing equipment inside the brewery from the courtyard in the rear of the pub. I should have written down the German term for mashing. All I remember of it now is 'mash' at the end of the term. Holgn also described the options for taking Päffgen home with you. There are bottles and kegs ranging in size from five to fifty liters.
Hogn, if you see this site and would like to email me please use gfranke at(@) sbcglobal.net. I'd like to confirm my information. Thanks for your help!
|B||Früh am Dom
Früh was unique for us. We visited twice; once with Ken and Debbie on our second day in Germany and then on our Köln pub crawl on day five. The first time we sat outside and the second time we sat just inside at the bar. The weather was fantastic in Köln both days. We thought we'd try inside on our second visit.
Früh is a Ďcan't missí Kölsch destination. They have a fantastic basement that goes down two floors underground. Upstairs they have large bright dining rooms and a bar area as well. Like all restaurants/pubs they close sections when they are not needed. All the pubs are set up to handle a large number of people. My suggestion would be to time your visit for a Saturday when you can see all the pubs have to offer. There will be no lack of beer or service. The only drawback would be the amount of time the Köbes can spend answering questions.
|This is a Früh Kölsch.
Lighter gold than Päffgen and as clear. The white head contains both small and medium bubbles. Light fruity nose of apple and pear. Hint of spice from noble hops. The spicy hop character is more pronounced than Päffgen. The second time we had a beer here we detected apricot. Light, slightly creamy body with medium carbonation. I believe this beer is in the 8-9 gravity range. This beer starts and ends with a bite. Carbonation up front and bitterness at the end. If it had slightly more malt it would smooth out the finish. This beer reminds me of a light cream ale with low ester levels.
Früh is both lighter in color and body when compared to Päffgen.
Not bad at 1.60€ but I think my choice would be Päffgen.
Another great Köbe at Sion. Very friendly and helpful. Great suggestion of food and willing to answer a few questions. He did get picked on for having to ask a fellow Köbe for answers to some of our stranger questions. Apparently he was an Italian working in Köln. This seemed to be the crux of the abuse.
Brau und Brunnen group now owns Sion along with several other brands most notably Gilden and Kuppers.
|This is a Sion Kölsch.
Light gold and clear with a slightly thinner head than Früh. Nose is similar to Früh but lighter. Apple and pear are present but at extremely low levels. Very low levels of pils malt grainy character. Light body. Gravity is probably in the 6-8 range. This is the lightest example of the Kölsch style I found in Germany.
Beer costs 1.55€ here.
|Our Sion snack.
The sausage was excellent. Potatoes were typical of the region and fantastic. The creamed vegetables were also very good. Don't pass up eating at the pubs. The portions are often large. What you see is our split meal for one after we'd dug in a little. Madeline must have started while I was still writing about the beer. The plate cost around 10€.
Peters has two locations to enjoy their Kolsh. They have a proper pub and a section of a nearby pedestrian mall with umbrellas and a cask of Kölsch. We chose to sit outside after being told we could not sit inside. Actually we could have but the only room with any other people was reserved for a private group.
Outside seemed more interesting anyway. Despite the cask sitting in the sun the Kölsch was cool and refreshing. The casks we saw sitting outside were all insulated with a black rubber skin.
|This is a Peters Kölsch.
Golden and clear with a white head of mixed small and medium bubbles. Malt aroma is low but slightly higher than Sion. The hop aroma seems to be less than Sion. Again the Pils grain comes through in the malt and spicy noble hops. Very slight fruitiness as the beer warms. The noble hop spiciness also increases as the sample warms. Bitterness is higher than all but Päffgen. I'd estimate the bitterness to land in the mid twenties. The body is on the light side and I'd estimate 8-10 final gravity.
|E||The Bier Museum is not a stop I would make again. Ambiance is lacking and given the reaction to a tourist inquiry about local history there is not much chance of getting much local flavor here. If you are in need of a break from Kölsch you might consider a stop here but if you need a break from Kölsch what are you doing on a Kölsch crawl in the first place?
This is the only place I saw dopplebock on a menu in all of Germany. I thought I'd have a chance later so I went for the Rauchbier. Stupid move. Not that I'm bitter or anything...
Dark brown with a cream head. Heavy bacon smoke on the nose. Medium bodied malt oriented beer. I thought I detected noble hop spicy character through the smoke. Some astringency present on the finish. Thought I detected cardboard but I couldn't later. I think this was a result of drinking Kölsch all day and then bombing my palate with bacon.
|F||Brauerei zur Malzmühle
Malzmühle was a fifteen to twenty minute walk from the Bier Museum. I have seen some complaints on the web about Köln's difficult pedestrian situation. We didn't experience any issues getting around. I mention this here because several large streets need to be crossed to reach Malzmühle. This was one of the few breweries of Köln rebuilt after WWII. I understand the only thing left standing after the war was the doorway. Entry to the pub is through a rotating front door made of wood and glass.
Slightly darker gold than the other Kölsch examples. Head is white with small bubbles and appears to be thinner than other examples. Malt dominated nose. Some noble hop spiciness. Some subdued apple and pear. Slight earthy character is also present on the nose. Not sure if this is a hop or malt characteristic.
Soft on the palate. Malt oriented with just enough hop to balance. Bitterness seems to be in the low twenties. Slight cooked corn character as well. Finish is almost like drinking sparkling mineral water. The malt falls away between the mid palate and finish.
Not the creamiest of the Kölsch beers but it does seem to have body in the 11-12 final gravity Madeline added the additional comments "Oof" and "I like Kölsch."
Nearly back with a rocky thin tan head. There are redish hues at the edges. Slight roast and heavy malt sweetness on the nose. Very grainy. This is the koolaid of beers. Madeline adds " similar to a cake without carbonation... except it has vanilla and roast flavors."
According to our Köbe this is a 2% beer. It appears the fermentation was stopped when the gravity had reached around 30. This is a very sweet beer.
Our köbe at Malzmühle was outstanding. Funny, informative about the köbe guidelines, malz, food, yet confusing. He told us unless you know your Köbe personally it is considered proper to address them as "Köbe" and not by their name. He offered his name to us which left me wondering if I should publish it. Like I said, helpful, informative and confusing. This is the malt oriented Kölsch in both aroma and flavor.
Beers cost 1.55€ at Malzmühle and I would suggest eating here. Prices were good and the place seems to be a localís hangout. The food smells good. We decided not to eat here and head back to the hotel ending our Köln pub crawl.