Monday, April 27, 2015

Beer at Prowein in Düsseldorf? Yes: Altbier at Zum Uerige, Germany

Pictures: At Zum Uerige, Düsseldorf

Prowein in Düsseldorf, Germany, which I attended with Annette Schiller, ombiasy WineTours, earlier this year, is arguably the most important wine fair in the world. You would expect a wine fair to take place in a wine region. But there is no wine made in the Düsseldorf area. To the contrary, there is lots of beer produced and consumed in the Düsseldorf area. Düsseldorf is one of the beer centers in Germany. They make and drink a special type of beer there – Altbier - and no visit of the Prowein is complete without at least a few hours in one of the traditional beer taverns of Düsseldorf. We chose the Zum Uerige.

Picture: General Manager Christian Witte, Weingut Domäne Schloss Johannisberg, and Annette Schiller, ombiasy WineTours, at Prowein

Prowein 2015 in Düsseldorf, Germany – Schiller’s Impressions 
4 Wine Tours by ombiasy coming up in 2015: Germany-East, Germany-South. Germany-Nord and Bordeaux


Beers have been brewed in Germany for 3,000 years. Altbier (Old Beer) is the beer that defines Düsseldorf. Its name comes from its production using the technique of top fermentation, an older method than bottom fermentation characteristic of lager styles of beer.

Altbier has a dark copper color. It is brewed at a moderate temperature using a top-fermenting yeast which gives its flavor some fruitiness, but matured at a cooler temperature, which gives it a clean and crisp taste.

Picture: Altbier

Altbier Taverns in Düsseldorf

Today, there are 5 beer taverns (there used to be many more) in Düsseldorf which brew Altbier on the premises: (1) Füchschen, (2) Zum Uerige, (3) Schlüssel and (4) Kürzer are all located in the Altstadt (Old Town). (5) Schumacher is located between the Altstadt and the main train station (Hauptbahnhof), although it also has a tavern in the Altstadt, Goldener Kessel, directly across the street from Schlüssel.

There is no fuss over what to drink; patrons make their selections when they walk into these old public houses.

At Zum Uerige

Zum Uerige has been brewing Altbier in the heart of Düsseldorf's Altstadt since 1862. A front door brings you in off the street past a narrow room on the right stuffed with tables. Down the hall, rooms jut out on the left and some tables cling to wall space along the passageway. Each of the rooms has its own name. The need for places to seat customers has led brewery owners to carve out rooms of all shapes and sizes in the cramped buildings they occupy. You can also stand outside and drink, and the overhead heaters will keep you warm even on a frigid November evening.

Pictures: Zum Uerige in Düsseldorf

The beer is poured straight out of polished oak barrels and served with hearty local food by busy waiters in long blue aprons. Once you have been served an Altbier, the coaster under the glass serves as a tally for the number of beers consumed. The only way to stop your glass from being filled is to place the coaster on top of the glass, which tells the waiter that you do not want any beer any more.

Pictures: Zum Uerige in Düsseldorf

The waiters carry revolving trays of Altbier while collecting empty glasses on the fly. The waiters will occasionally pause to enjoy an Altbier at the customer’s expense, usually finishing it in one or two gulps.

Zum Uerige serves homemade snacks and daily specials that vary according to the season. Their famous pea soup on Saturday is a tradition. I had a “Solei mit Senf” (Pickled Egg with Mustard).

Pictures: Zum Uerige in Düsseldorf

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Prowein 2015 in Düsseldorf, Germany – Schiller’s Impressions

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