Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Sticke Day

This will be a short post: We got up early drank Sticke, had some lunch, drank a lot more Sticke then finished off with a Killepitsch. You want more? OK

When we got to Bergerstrasse 1 the sign was up (“Hütt” is Düsseldorfer dialect for “today”) Uerige opens at 10am and we were inside by 10:01.

They were setting up tables outside but it wasn’t clear if they were serving so we went into our traditional room and in a few minutes had our first Sticke.

My initial reaction was a bit negative but by the end of it I liked it a lot better. It probably was the orange juice I had for breakfast. It was not as hoppy as last year’s. We learned later they went back to the normal Perle and Spalt hops instead of the Herbsbrucker they used last year. I gather the locals complained.

The lunch meal on Tuesdays is usually Königsberger Klopse — meatballs in a white sauce with capers, boiled potatoes and beets. “Kaliningrad Meatballs” as it were.

It was very good and also filling. We drank for about three hours. We normally take an afternoon break: do some shopping, maybe some laundry and other errands.

We usually meet back about 4pm and reacquaint ourselves with the Sticke and then go inside to our table. Usually we are in the Brauhaus but this time they put is in the Müller-Schlösser Stube, a small room at the front.

We settled in for the next few hours and consumed mass quantities of good beer.

More Sticke...

Since we had an early train to Bamberg in the morning, we ended a bit earlier than usual. Then it was across the street for the obligatory Killepitsch.

We survived our 22nd official Sticke day (I have been to a few more, having been to the January Sticke a few times). Tomorrow, Bamberg.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Düsseldorf Day 1

First stop, of course, was Uerige.

I am always happy to see this sign, as it means I didn’t schedule the wrong week.

It was warm so we sat outside and drank a number of beers. I’m only showing picture of one, because they pretty much all look the same...

It was time for a bit of food so we walked over to Bolkerstraße and bought a Schweinebrötchen at Schweine Janes. Yummy!

The it was up Bolkerstraße to Zum Schlüssel. They had tables set up outside so we took advantage.

Schlüssel is my least favorite of the original four breweries. I find it a bit on the sweet side, though there are those for whom it’s their favorite. It is a well made beer so it is just a matter of personal choice.

Practically across the street is Im Goldenen Kessel, the Altstadt tap room for Schumacher (the brewery is on Oststrasse) 

This was a little less malty than I remembered, though it was good. When the others ordered a second, I ordered their “Premium” beer the 1838er. This is served from a keg tap, not a gravity barrel.

The glass is pretty but the beer was horrible. Tom said he could smell the diacetyl from across the table. It was also very sour. I think I fell victim to “First Beer Out of the Tap” syndrome. At least I hoped that was the case. After a short discussion they brought me a replacement. This one was much better but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I probably should because the awful taste of the first one lingered.

Next it was over to Kürze, the newest member of the family. I have found there beers to be very inconsistent: Sometimes very good, a few times totally awful but usually just sort of Meh.  This one was very good. I hope that is a sign for the future. BTW, the picture is not distorted, they serve in a short 20cl glass. 20cl? If I wanted that size, I’d go to Köln.

Finally over to Radingerstrasse to Im Füchschen. The beer was in good form today — not as good as it was a few years ago before the had problems in the brewhouse, but better than the past couple of years.

The soup of the day was Kartoffelsuppe so we had to try it. It was good, with nice chunk of sausage.

Füchschen now brews a Pils and I thought I’d try it.

It was a bit darker than I’d expect a Pils and it had some Crystal/Caramel malt I think (a bit of a raisin note). It was an OK beer but stick to the Alt, it is much better.

We were heading back towards the Marktplatz and our traditional “Stand in Front of the Webcam” when we passed Holy Craft and realized they were open. They were just coming off a Flügge tap takeover so a lot of Flügge beers on tap.

I went with the Mija Saison.

It was fine, not in the same class as the good Belgian ones but nicely tart and drinkable. A bit murky in looks and flavor.

We headed to last be to the Marktplatz, where Gunnar from Stockholm was waiting for us. We stood waving for 5 minutes — I’m sure you all saw us. We are the little group of four to the right of the stature.

That was tiring work, so it was back to Uerige for a beer or three.

They offer a full menu in the evenings now, so I thought I’d try their Schnitzel.

It was OK, a bit on the dry side, as if it sat in a warmer for a while. But the fried potatoes where very good.

Then it was a nightcap of Killeptisch and back to the hotel to rest up for the big day.

Tomorrow (Tuesday) is Sticke Day. Drink early and often.

Arrived in Düsseldorf

Deutsche Bahn now runs a bus between Antwerp and Düsseldorf (with a stop in Eindhoven on the way). It takes about three hours. Going by train has gotten faster with the high speed Brussels - Köln line but you still have to change trains twice. If you book in advance you can get bus tickets for as low as €15. So we usually take the bus.

It was a bit less than comfortable ride. There was lots of construction and our driver must have been a frustrated Formula One driver as he seem to take all curves at speed. Since the bus was quite tall that made it interesting for the passengers. Sometime after I stop and Eindhoven — near the German border — we pull off the highway and wound thru town to some industrial district. It was the kind of place had it been dark you might be thinking “drug deal” but what we had was a driver exchange. There was a car waiting for us, and our driver got out, gesticulated wildly to the car driver, who got out and got on the bus.  The car (with our original driver) lead us back to the highway and then took off. It was all very weird — why not change drivers in Eindhoven were there was a regular stop?  In any event, this got us in to Düsseldorf  30 minutes late. It was about 75º F and our hotel turns off the air conditioning on October 1 so the rooms were very hot. Come on Ibis, you can do better than this.

But soon we were on a U-Bahn to the Altstadt and had a nice fresh Uerige Alt to hand.

That one went down very fast, and sure enough as if by magic another full one appeared. Gotta love it.

The “Meal of the Day” was goulash so we all ordered a bowl. Unlike the goulash in lots of German restaurants, this one had a nice orange glow that said they weren’t stingy with the paprika. Nice big chunks of meat as well. Yummy.

We were siting in the Brauhaus room (all the tables outside were full) and had a good view of the bar. I though I’d time how long it took to empty a barrel (these are 55L ones). It ended up taking 46 minutes. That is 220 beers, minus a bit for spillage. And this is one of four serving stations open, so they are moving a lot of beer.

For a change of pace we took the U-Bahn out to Wehrhahn to check out a new place somebody told me about, the Brass Bar. They have been open about a year and in what looks like it was a shop a long time ago.

They have 8 beers on tap. The recently had a tap takeover with Brewers Tribute of Berlin so most of the beers were from them. The top one is the house Alt, designed by the owner but brewed in Berlin. The Oude Kriek was from Boon and the one on the bottom is from Tiny Rebel in the UK.

I missed that the top one was the house Alt so I started with the Helles. It has nice, tasty and well made.

After that I switch the the C’Alt. It was softer, less minerally than the Düsseldorf brewed ones but was clearly an alt and very tasty.

If I had one complaint about the place, it was that they didn’t list the breweries or the styles on the board.

I didn’t see a menu so I don’t know the extent of their bottle list, but sitting on one tap bank were a number of familiar faces.

Since the beers I had were both brewed in Berlin, Tom and I decide to share a Schneeeule Marlene. Unfortunately he didn’t have the wonderful Schneeeule glasses but the beer tasted great anyway.

If you want to take a break from the Altstadt rush, I can recommend the Brass Bar. It is two tram stops from the Hauptbahnhof or a 500m walk from the Wehrhahn U-Bahn/S-Bahn station. Right now it is closed Monday and opens the other days at 6pm.

Tomorrow we will make the rounds of the Altstadt brewhouses. And if you read this before Oct 14, at 6pm Central European Time (9am in California, Noon on the US East Coast) our small group will stand in front the webcam here

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Antwerp Day 3

De Pelgrom is an old Antwerp pub in some old arched brick cellars. I haven’t been in many years but I heard that they have improved their tap list and gone upscale. They normally open a 6pm which I why I don’t go there much but they do open at noon on Saturday so we decided to make a visit.

They have 24 taps with a pretty good selection. I started with the Gouden Carolus Tripel — at bit strong for the first beer of the day but I had been craving one since we arrived in Antwerp. Tom and Mike had a Bolleke. Their beers were €2.70 while the usual price he had been paying was €2.30 (ten cents less at The Northerner) so you can get an idea of the price levels.

It’s a decent list, something for everybody. I like that they will sell a 12.5 cl portion (though you have to buy at least two) so you can construct your own tasting flight. They also have a number of standard flights.


One was enough — I am not sure the whole dungeon thing works for me. So we wandered down towards the river towards a brand new place Cafe Earnst. They have only been open 6 weeks.

They had the Brasserie de le Senne Jambe de Bois Triple, which is another favorite, so I had one.

They have ten taps and with both “craft” and “traditional” styles. They also have a big list of raw (or “natural”) wines, which seems to be think around here.

It was a little past lunch so we ordered a bowl of Spaghetti Bolognese — the typical Belgium pub dish. It was good , with lots of meat in the sauce.

It was time for another beer and I went with the Brussels Beer Project Chockablock Double NEIPA. It was nice and hoppy but nothing about it said “Belgian”

We walked around the corner and soon came to De Ware Jacob. This is another old Antwerp brown cafe that had fallen on hard times and has been revived in recent years by a new, young owner. It is one of my favorite stops in Antwerp.

They only have five taps but four of them are decent (or excellent!) beers. But the one of the far right is why I come,

They have a nice (and growing) bottle list but it is the Avec Les Bon Vœux that keeps me coming back.

We had time for a couple of them and the headed towards Vleminckveld.

I started with my usual Malheur 60 Blond

The bottle list at the Kulminator is a couple inches thick. Playing around I opened it a random and pointed to a beer. Right below the one I selected was a 1987 Elyenbosch Frambozen. A 32 year old beer, why not?

It was quite interesting. It was very sweet with no sourness left at all. You could tell there was fruit but I don’t think I could have told you it was raspberry without knowing in advance. There also was very little oxidation evident. It actually was a quite pleasant beer.

We hadn’t split a 750ml bottle yet so we ordered a 2012 Het Anker Cuvée van de Keizer.

At 7 years it showed more oxidation than the 32 year old Eylenbosch but was still quite enjoyable. The anise notes had faded a bit but where still there. They do have the new (2019) version but it is buried under a bunch of other beer so we’ll have to wait for another time.

I also realized I hadn’t had a Westmalle Tripel yet this trip. That was soon rectified.

Nothing much to say here, it is as it ever is — some people love it, others hate it.

Next we had something quite special, a 2006 Busch Noël Premium.. This was one of the few version of the Noël that was bottle conditioned and it was delicious.

It was getting to be a bit late, so I ordered my dessert beer, Mikkeller Black.

And with that we say good bye to Antwerp and head to Düsseldorf in the morning.