Review of 5 Breweries, Altstadt Dusseldorf Germany

We spent a few days in Düsseldorf visiting some of our friends, and were lucky enough to have the time to visit the Altstadt, or “Old Town” area which is one of my favorite places in Germany. This is a beautiful, classic town center that holds a LOT of breweries, restaurants, shops and bars. Every time we visit, we try to spend as much time as we can in this district discovering new and exciting things to buy, drink and eat. This time around we noticed a large Ferris wheel that was built recently on the river-walk/promenade which operates year round. While the weather was cold, rainy and foggy (late Dec. 2014), we made the best of it and walked around as much as we could.

The breweries located in the Altstadt range from 100’s of years old, to just a few years old. The variety of Altbiers that are available is somewhat stunning, as this one type of beer usually has a full body, present malt and grain build, and sometimes a floral to spicy hop presence. You will find that every brewery does it differently and sometimes more successfully than others. Just about every bar (if not a brewery) will have a sign out front above their door promoting what brand of Altbier they pour. You will NOT find any bars pouring more than that style of Alt, but you might find additional beer styles available on draft or bottle (hefeweizen, schwartz, pils, etc.) if Altbier is not your thing.

The list below are five of the breweries that we visited this time around. Altbier is served in a 0.25l glasses, slightly larger than Kolsh style glasses found in Cologne. The servers at breweries will constantly walk around with their aluminium trays with fresh beers. If you are not wanting a refresh of your beer, you need to put a coaster on top of it or they will just drop off a fresh glass without asking. You should note that servers keep track of how many you have drank by putting a pencil mark on your coaster or write down a special price if you don’t order an Altbier, so don’t move your coasters around the table or they will get frustrated with you.

Uerige Obergärige Hausbrauerei –
One of the most popular breweries in the Altstadt, Uerige provides a large outside seating area and numerous indoor rooms and a bar area. The location is near the promenade, or river front walking area and has an old-world charm like most other breweries in this district. The decor has a bit more brass and polished look than some of the older breweries nearby and the staff is pleasant and quick to serve you. They do offer a full menu if you’re eating, but most people there are just drinking. We sat in the far back room that had hand-painted illustrations on the walls and many beer barrels that people could sit or stand at. The room did have a larger glass window that look into one of the brewing kettle rooms, which is cool and somewhat unique for breweries in this area. The servers were quick and loud, and what was cool this time around, is that we had the exact same guy serving us that we did from two years ago when we visited over the summer in 2012.

It should be noted that Uerige does produce a full line of beers, not just alt to include: Uerige Unfiltered, Sticke, DoppelSticke, Weizen, and Original Fassbrause. These are often available at the brewery and can be found at local restaurants, bars and grocery stores or bottle shops. I highly recommend their Sticke, which I was able to try a few years ago during my last visit to Germany.

Altbier • ABV: 4.7% • IBUs: ?
Herbal nose, 22 SRM with a darker red hue, full carbonation and head, nice lattice head clings to the glass. The nose has a faint grassy and fruit like herbal note and the front moth is sharper with hop bitters. However, with sweeter malts and grain sugars balancing it out once it hits the mid. Mouthfeel is full with a chewy oat or gain-like character and feel. The bitters do linger slightly on the after taste. Not as strong in the hop profile as other Dusseldorf Alts. This is a really well balanced beer and the rounded approach makes it really yummy.

Brauerei Im Füchschen –
Brauerei Im Füchschen (The Little Fox) was established in 1848. The location has a couple of large front rooms and a large back room with the typical old-world decor and a friendly staff that welcomes you. The food at this restaurant is somewhat better than the other local breweries in that it’s a littler higher quality and portion sizing. We did order a small snack here and the food came out in a appropriate time, even though they were super busy, packed with people.

Altbier • ABV: 4.5% • IBUs: ?
Beautifully amber (18 SRM) with sweet malts and slight skunky characters on the nose. Head is creamy and solid with a nice lattice on the glass as it is drank. Incredible herbal bitters on the front from grassy to floral notes of dried tobacco on the front and mid mouth. Full chewy Mouthfeel makes this a challenging beer for beginners to Alt styles. Mid and back with lingering hop esters and dried fruit. Overall, this is a stronger style of alt than other local breweries produce that is worth trying if you haven’t had the chance.

Brauerei Kürzer –
This location is somewhat of an ‘American’ style brew-pub with stark, newer architecture of exposed concreet and brick walls, sharp angular furniture, large windows and exposed brewing area in the back. This is completely different than the older traditional approach that other breweries take as there is a foos-ball table by the bathrooms and modern music playing in the background. When you visit, you’ll find that this type of decor is more attractive to the younger/hipster crowds. The servers aren’t as quick as some of the other breweries that we visited, but we feel that it was worth the wait for the beer. We did notice that they have a limited menu of food, and didn’t order anything, so we can’t really speak to that.

Altbier • ABV: 4.8% • IBUs: ?
Darker amber (22ish SRM) color, full white head and highly carbonated. Floral and herbal notes are present on the nose with a little syrup like quality to the sweetness. Rounded dry hop esters are secondary to the stronger malt profile. The mid and back malts have toasted oats, raisins, a variety of spices that are faint and litte sweet sugars lingering in the after taste. This is a complex Altbier that is not for beginners to the Alt style.

Brauerei Ferdinand Schumacher –
Brauerei Ferdinand Schumacher is the oldest Altbier brewery in the Altstadt, founded in 1838. The location has the typical classic brewery/restaurant decor found in the Altstadt. Old wooden tables and chairs, classic carvings and wallpaper on the walls. Photography, paintings and drawings are also randomly found throughout the restaurant representing the past, and some are quite interesting to look at. The menu is typical full service restaurant fare. They do attract a lot of larger groups, so it’s tricky to get in and find a table. Normally you may end up standing at a ledge or small round table top of you can’t find a seat. The servers don’t care if you stand, and will only try to find you a table if you’re name’s on the list at the front door. Be prepared to wait if you go during normal dining hours (lunch or dinner).

Altbier • ABV: 4.6% • IBUs:?
The Schumacher Altbier pours clean with a slight off-white foam/head and decent lattice on the glass. The appearance is typical Alt, with a red/copper hue, about a 22 SRM. The nose has lighter caramel, or toasted malt and grains with an earthy or dry leafy hint. The front mouthfeel is slightly sweet with burnt caramel and toasted malts and grains. The hops present with a dry earthy to spicy character. This beer does have a slightly lighter approach with moderate to low carbonation. This is what we considered a ‘mid-range’ alt, that is approachable to those not terribly fond of the style.

Zum Schlüssel(The Key) –
This location in the Altstadt has been a brewery and bakery since 1850, but the family that currently runs the business has been brewing since 1313, yes, I said 1313. So there is a bit of tradition behind the beer that they produce. The brewery restaurant is a really large space (taking up two seperate buildings) that offers a full range of food and snacks. You should definitely explore the space if you have the chance, the far back of the restaurant has separate rooms that have their own character and charm. With all older breweries like this, the decorations, tables and chairs are all 100’s of years old and have an incredibly ‘old-world’ charm about them. It should be noted that Zum Schlüssel is a subsidiary Gatzweiler Brauerei.

Altbier • ABV: 5% • IBUs:?
Regarding the Altbier, the draft has a beautiful red/copper brown hue, roughly a 20 SRM. The head is full white and the body of the beer appears clear with a medium amount of carbonation that doesn’t bubble much in the glass. The nose has a slight malt presence with a hint of spice and nuts. The front Mouthfeel is both fruity sweet sugars and flowery with hops. This alt does present with a strong ale like mouth on the mid and back mouth with few lingering flavors. Overall this is a mid-range Altbier that is approachable by those new to Alt’s.

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