Beer House Walking Tour, Cologne

Beer House Walking Tour (Self Guided), Cologne

In Cologne they say, "Kölsch is the only language you can drink." Brewed only here and nowhere else, Kölsch – a light beer, slightly bitter, bright yellow in color, and made of top-fermented yeast – is forbidden for production in any other part of Germany.

Each licensed brewery in the city makes its own variation of Kölsch, served traditionally in a tall, thin, cylindrical 200-ml (6.8 US fl oz) glass called a Stange ("pole" or "rod"). In keeping with the local ritual, the server, called a Köbes, carries eleven or twelve Stangen in a Kranz ("wreath"), a circular tray resembling a crown or wreath. Instead of waiting for you to order a refill, the Köbes immediately replaces an empty Stange with a full one, marking a tick on the coaster under the Stange. If you don't want another refill, you can cover the glass with the coaster, which means "enough for me."

The most logical place to start a pub crawl in Cologne is Gaffel am Dom, a fairly well-known beer-house located at the foot of the Cathedral, which has been making Kölsch since 1908. From here, you can make way to the famous Brauhaus Früh am Dom, the second largest brewery in Germany after Munich's Hofbräuhaus, established since 1904. Here, Kölsch is still bottled from the original wooden barrels, which hold 90 liters or 450 glasses.

Also notable, further down the road, are the Sion Brauhaus – the maker of signature Sion Kölsch; the Brauerei zur Malzmuehle – renowned, among other things, for being visited by German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and US President Bill Clinton; and many other prominent beer-houses.

To explore them all in more detail whilst sampling the freshest and diverse varieties of Kölsch, take this self-guided walking beer tour of Cologne and enjoy yourself!
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Beer House Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Beer House Walking Tour
Guide Location: Germany » Cologne (See other walking tours in Cologne)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.8 Km or 1.1 Miles
Author: audrey
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Gaffel am Dom
  • Fruh Brauhaus
  • Sion Brauhaus
  • Peters Brauhaus
  • Sunner im Walfisch
  • Brauerei zur Malzmuehle
1
Gaffel am Dom

1) Gaffel am Dom

Gaffel am Dom is a traditional, yet modern brewery and tavern situated in Cologne's historic Deichmannhaus since 2008. This seven-storey neoclassical edifice is named after Wilhelm Ludwig Deichmann, one of the co-founders of the Deutsche Bank, and was built in 1914 replacing the original building erected in the mid 19th century.

As for the brewery, Gaffel Becker & Co was founded in Cologne in 1908 by the Becker Brothers. Being a member of the Cologne Brewery Association, it is authorized to produce its own brand of the traditional regional top-fermented beer – Gaffel Kölsch. The brand's name derives from the Cologne Gaffels, who were the political arm of the guilds and merchants in the city back in 1396. "Gaffel" was the old Cologne expression for a two-pronged fork that the local merchants brought from Venice in the 11th century.

Behind the majestic façade you will find a typical Rhenish beer-house where Cologne's metropolitan flair meets a village-like tranquility in a mix of traditional brewery attributes (lights, large copper elements and numerous original pieces of historical beer advertisements) and innovative dispensing and cooling technology. Fine dry Gaffel Kölsch here is delivered via an uninterrupted cold chain from the brewery to the tap, using the Gaffel cellar barrel system guaranteeing absolute freshness.

Spread on three floors, the house can seat up to 700 guests; the outdoor section has 300 seats. The spacious, light-filled rooms with long bars, benches and tables on the one hand, and cozy nooks, small booths and secluded rooms on the other, produce an ambiance that is bourgeois, hearty, comfortable and, as is so typical of the Rhinelander, positive and cheerful. The menu features hearty regional specialties, including a large variety of German sausages.
2
Fruh Brauhaus

2) Fruh Brauhaus

Brauhaus Früh is perhaps the most popular biergarten (beer-garden) in Cologne's Old Town. Also known as Früh am Dom for being located directly opposite the Cologne Cathedral, this brewery is named after its first owner, Peter Josef Früh.

Converting the building of the former Central Theater and Schützenliesel restaurant, at Am Hof 12, into a top-fermentation facility in 1904 marked the first milestone for Cölner Hofbräu P. Josef Früh KG. Here the beer was brewed right in the cellars. Over the years, the location has been continuously expanded and developed.

During World War II, the building, like the rest of Cologne, was severely damaged by bombing raids, with its main section completely burned down in February 1944. In 1987, the production was moved to the Fühlingen district of Cologne, and Früh became a draft beer pub. Gradually, the pub incorporated three neighboring houses and now has about 1400 seats, including the beer-garden. There are several uniquely decorated halls - "Armorial Hall", "Winter Garden", "Bell Tower", and "Roman cellar" (here you can see the remains of the ancient Roman masonry, as well as old equipment of the brewery). The establishment is currently run by the fifth generation of the Früh family.

In addition to the freshly tapped Früh Kölsch, the beer-house offers a large range of meat dishes and snacks, prepared especially to go with the brew. Here you can also discover the art of traditional brewing and serving beer – waiters carrying "perforated" trays, in the holes of which glasses are inserted.

The place is open daily from 8 am to midnight. In 2003 the Feinkosttheke delicatessen was opened next to the beer-house, offering Früh's homemade specialties, spices, mustard and sauces.
3
Sion Brauhaus

3) Sion Brauhaus

Brauhaus Sion – the “beating heart” of Sion Kölsch beer – is a traditional historic brewery and inn in the middle of Cologne's Old Town. Hospitality has been celebrated here since 1318 when a tavern at Unter Taschenmacher No. 5 (Under Bagmaker #5) was first mentioned in the city documents.

Originally, the facility on the site of today's Sion beer-house specialized in brewing of the so-called Medebier (mead), using herbs and honey. Since the brewing rights in Cologne, at that time, were always tied to the actual location, it is safe to assume that the beer was made right inside the building.

Over the course of centuries, the brewery had changed hands repeatedly until, eventually, Jean Sion from an Eifel brewing dynasty took over the business and laid foundation for the success story of Sion Kölsch. He ran it until his death in 1915, upon which his heirs followed as owners.

The brewery was heavily damaged by bombing in 1942 and at the end of World War II was completely destroyed. After the war, Hans Sion – praised as the “Father of Kölsch” – had the house rebuilt and started trading under the current name "Brauhaus Sion". The actual brewing was no longer done on the premises, but shifted to other Cologne breweries. After Hans Sion's death in 1998, his son Hans Georg Sion inherited the place, now comprising the "Unter Taschenmacher No. 3-11" complex capable of seating up to 600 guests. Today, René Sion continues to lead the brewery in the fourth generation.

The "Brauhaus Sion" inn, furnished in a rustic brewery style, mainly offers specialties from the regional Rhenish cuisine. Little things like Halver Hahn, Rievkoche or Kölsch caviar are also served here alongside Sion Kölsch on the tap.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
4
Peters Brauhaus

4) Peters Brauhaus

Peters Brauhaus at Mühlengasse 1 is yet another landmark traditional German beer-house in Cologne licensed to brew Kölsch beer. It is also one of the last remaining breweries in the city still producing their own excellent brand of Kölsch – Peters Kölsch.

The beer-house itself is one of the newest in Cologne, whereas the Peters Brauhaus brewery as such is rather old – even older than the famous Früh am Dom, and is just as legendary. The brewery was officially founded on November 26, 1847, when Peter Josef Peters received permission to brew beer in Monheim. The actual brewing tradition in Monheim dates back to 1262, which is the year inscribed on Kölschstange (or Kölner Stange), cylindrical beer glasses in which Peters Kölsch is served.

Back in 1994, the Peters & Bambeck brewery bought the historic Zum Kranz building and revived this former brewery as one of their own, called "Peters Brauhaus". Today this place is included in the Kölner Brauhauswanderweg (Cologne brewery hiking trail), featuring all the main historic local breweries and beer-houses.

Peters Brauhaus is quite large, with rooms differing in size and shape, furnished with pine-topped tables, and the walls decorated with beer-themed panels. A beautiful stained-glass ceiling is another eye-catching element of the interior.

In addition to beer (which is always delivered crispy cold, so it can be enjoyed adequately even in hot weather out on the terrace) and a range of meat dishes to accompany it, there are also good locally-distilled schnapps served here. The pub is open seven days a week from 11:00 to 00:30.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
5
Sunner im Walfisch

5) Sunner im Walfisch

Sünner im Walfisch is a cozy brewery located in Cologne's Old Town, at Salzgasse, corner of Rothenberg, in a historic property dating from the mid-17th century. It stands on the site of another, medieval brewery "Heinrich zur Krae" (Krähe), the first records of which in the Cologne Rentkammer beer tax book appear as early as 1476.

The Heinrich zur Krae brewery remained in this place until 1898. In 1935 the stepped gable house Zum Walfisch at Tipsgasse 2-4 was dismantled and then reassembled, brick-by-brick, in its original form on the site of the historic Heinrich zur Krae. The year on the front – referring to Zum Walfisch's original construction, – was mistakenly changed upon reconstruction, from 1629 to 1626.

Up until the 1950s, the building had been known as “Weinhaus im Walfisch” (Wine house in the whale), until it was taken over by the Sünner brothers' brewery and distillery in 1996 and has since been operating under its current name – Sünner im Walfisch. Distinguished by its signature "whale" lantern, the Sünner brewery is now part of the historic Cologne brewery hiking trail.

In addition to its staple Kolsch beer, the place offers a large variety of Cologne specialties. The Sunner im Walfisch has an impressive design, with its high ceiling creating a rather pleasant atmosphere equally appealing to both the regular crowd of young professionals and football fans.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
6
Brauerei zur Malzmuehle

6) Brauerei zur Malzmuehle

The Brauerei zur Malzmühle ("Brewery at the Malt Mill") is a traditional Kölsch brewery and restaurant at Heumarkt No. 6. The brewhouse was founded by Hubert Koch in 1858, which makes it one of the oldest in the city, and was originally known as the "Bier und Malzextrakt Dampfbrauerei Koch, Cöln" ("Beer and Malt Extract Steam Brewery, Cologne").

In 1901 Hubert's son Jakob Koch took over the brewery and turned it into a popular meeting place for locals, especially the well-off traders in the neighboring wholesale market hall. In 1912 Koch sold the business to his nephew Gottfried Joseph Schwartz, ancestor of the current owner family, who gave it the current name.

The malt mill was destroyed by bombing in 1945 and then rebuilt after World War II. In 1948, brewing operations resumed, although guests still had to be served outdoors.

Nowadays, the imposing historical property from 1744 is still in place. Here Malzmühle's main product – "Mühlen Kölsch", a unique traditional top-fermented beer, part of Cologne's Kölsch Convention – has been produced according to the original handmade brewing recipe ever since it was patented. Also within the building is a shop, where you can buy Mühlen Kölsch in bottles, crates or kegs.

In 1999, US President Bill Clinton visited the brewery whilst attending the G8 summit. Another prominent guest of the Malzmühle, in earlier times, was Konrad Adenauer.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

Walking Tours in Cologne, Germany

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