With its brewery culture and wide variety of beers that go with it, North Rhine-Westphalia is worth a visit for anyone who not only enjoys drinking the ‘liquid gold’, but who is also interested in finding out about its history.
Beer specialities from North Rhine-Westphalia: The classics
North Rhine-Westphalian beers are top- and bottom-fermented beers, which are mainly produced on the basis of barley malt. The best-known are Kölsch and Altbier, as well as Pils, which is also popular outside North Rhine-Westphalia.
Kölsch: Kölsch is a top-fermented full beer, which is only allowed to be called “Kölsch” if it has been produced in the Cologne city area. Cologne beer is a regional speciality protected by the EU. In Bonn, there is a beer speciality produced in a similar way, called “Bönnsch”.
Altbier: Altbier is highly popular on the Lower Rhine, in Westphalia and in Düsseldorf, and here you will find the largest number of Altbier breweries in Germany. This type of beer, which like Kölsch is top-fermented, is frequently known simply as “Alt”. The beer gets its dark colour from roasted barley malt.
Pils: There are several world-class Pils breweries in North Rhine-Westphalia, including Krombacher, Warsteiner, König Pilsener and Veltins. Here, the brewers benefit from the particularly high quality of spring water. The bottom-fermented Pils stands out for its light to golden colour, which is why visitors to breweries or beer gardens often simply order a “light” or “blonde” beer when they want to drink Pils. It is the most popular beer in North Rhine-Westphalia.
Craft beer specialities from North Rhine-Westphalia
Craft beer is simply the term used to describe hand-brewed beer. As well as the classics, some of which are produced in large breweries, there are also numerous “microbreweries” in North Rhine-Westphalia, where local master brewers give free rein to their love of experimentation.
In Greven, in the Münsterland region, a new “glass experience brewery” has been under construction at Pott’s Brauerei GmbH since May 2017. The building includes a malthouse, a brewhouse and a fermentation and storage cellar. In future, trained master brewers will be able to develop new beer specialities here, as well as supporting other craft and gypsy brewers (wandering brewers without their own brewery).
In the Strate brewery in Detmold, eastern Westphalia, master brewer Friederike Strate adds cherries to her latest creations. Bourbon wood barrels are also used to create a very special taste (www.dein-nrw.de/a-brauerei-strate-detmold).
The brewers from the oldest Pils brewery in northern Germany regard themselves as being “private brewers with a passion for the art”: Barres Brauwelt. Here, too, brewers work with meticulous care to create tastes which are even delivered as far as Asia (www.dein-nrw.de/a-barres-brauwelt)
The highly traditional Altbier is still brewed by hand here: The small Bolten private brewery is still brewing its well-known Ur-Alt beer, which has been produced by hand at the Kraushof site in Korschenbroich for generations (www.dein-nrw.de/a-privatbrauerei-bolten).
Breweries and brewhouses
A large number of breweries, brewhouses and museums in North Rhine-Westphalia offer an insight into the traditional art of brewing. Here are a few examples: The history of the private brewery in Bolten in Korchenbroich stretches back to 1266, making it the oldest brewery in the world. The Fiege private brewery in the Ruhr area has already been brewing for four generations. The Pott brewer family fro Oelde uses only natural methods to brew its fine beer specialities. This means no sharp filtration, or no pasteurisation for a long shelf life, for example. In Barres Brauwelt, visitors can find out more about the background to beer in a tactile way: After visiting the brewery museum, they can enjoy their beer in historic surroundings in front of the gates of Lübbecke. The first home brewery in Duisburg, Webster, offers natural beers, specialities typical for the brewery and beer seminars.
On the Rhine or Ruhr, or in palaces and half-timbered houses, in North Rhine-Westphalia, the many varieties of beer can be enjoyed outdoors.
Alter Zoll, Bonn: In the Alter Zoll beer garden, visitors can enjoy the view over the Rhine through to the government district and beyond to the Siebengebirge hills.
Bootshaus Alte Liebe, Cologne: Guests enjoying their drink at the Bootshaus Alte Liebe (“Old love boathouse”) will be gently rocked to and fro by the waves, since this beer garden is a house boat.
Pleister Mühle, Münster: The beer garden is located directly next to a canoe rental facility and on several cycle routes, including the Friedensroute (“peace route”) and the R1 European Cycle Route.
Platanengarten im Schlosspark, Hünxe: The beer garden in the Hünxe palace park is located directly next to the palace. Large plane trees give shade to visitors.
Seemers Biergarten, Eslohe: This country inn is housed in a picturesque half-timbered building. Hand-crafted oak benches, tables and chairs provide a cosy atmosphere.
More information and inspriration: www.nrw-tourism.com/speciality-beers-nrw