We made a one-night stop in Cologne (Köln, to Germans) to drink Kölsch – Cologne’s contribution to the beer world. Kölsch is the only beer appellation, meaning you cannot legally call your Kölsch beer a “Kölsch” unless it’s made in Cologne. Cologne banned lagers in the 1800s so all breweries in Cologne were forced to make ales. A Kölsch is essentially a pale lager made with ale yeast. Even though the ban has been lifted, no breweries in Cologne make anything else. Interestingly, the famous Rothschild family did build a lager brewery after the ban was lifted but it failed. So still there are no lager breweries.

My sister, my brother-in-law and one of their daughters were recently in France visiting their other daughter, Sarah, who lives in Paris. We just missed them being in Europe by a few days so we couldn’t meet up with them but we did get Sarah to visit us in Cologne:


It seems like all beer served in Cologne is Kölsch (although I did spy a Pilsner once) and it is always served in 200ml (less than 7 fl ozs) glasses called a “stange“. Folklore about Cologne says that they keep bringing you these small beers until you put your coaster on top of the glass to signal them not to. That didn’t turn out to be true in our experience, we had to order another just like any other beer.

There are 4 or 6 historic Kölsch breweries and we made it to two of them, Päffgen and Früh and I was able to taste a third historic brewery, from Sion, at our hotel (in a 400ml stange even!).

Päffgen is a small brewery that dates to the mid-1800s and was and still is a family brewery that only serves their beer at their restaurant. This is the beer garden that sits between the indoor restaurant and their brewhouse, which can be seen through the glass in the 3-story building (note the wall-mounted old school valves, sight glass and, I think, a lauter grant):


Früh is located closer to our hotel and the train station and comprises of 3 buildings on a square where they have outdoor seating:


The Cologne Cathedral:


Cologne is also known for having the oldest cologne maker, hence the name. Eau de Cologne (“water of cologne”) has been made by 4711 for 200 years. I meant to buy cologne in Cologne but didn’t get around to it, unfortunately.

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