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Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Day in Dusseldorf: Altbier and Schweinehaxen

Today I left Cologne and spent about six hours walking the Altstadt (old town)of Dusseldorf. This cosmopolitan city has been around since 1288 and is a major North Rhine-Westphalia center.

Dusseldorf is also the home of Altbier. Altbier or old beer is Dusseldorf's gift to the beer world. These beers are copper colored, well-hopped with a malty touch. Like Kolsch, Altbier is top fermented. The alt houses of Dusseldorf pour the beer on gravity from kegs into 0.25 glasses that are just a little more hefty than the ones you will find in Cologne.

My first stop was at Zum Uerige, which pretty much owns a block of a street in Altstadt. On a warm August afternoon the place becomes Dusseldorf's backyard. Uerige's Altbier is a deep amber color with a malty nose. Priced at 1.70 Euros for a 0.25 liter glass, it is refreshing and soft.

A short walk away Zum Schlussel serves up a slightly lighter amber colored alt that has a nice solid hop character. This alt was typical in that the head thoroughly laces your glass. Schlussel has a very good kitchen that set what had to be a record for the largest schweinehaxen ever served to a visiting American. This was truly the knuckle of some super pig and could have easily been a meal for two hungry people.

IM Fuchschen serves up an alt that is a tarnished copper color. The flavor is classic alt style, with just a hint more of the roasted grain than some of the others.

Braueri Schumacher is located just a few blocks from the main rail station and outside of the Altstadt. Schumacher was busy from a constant flow of regulars buying small kegs and crates of large bottles. The beer had a nice crisp hop up front to go along with a malty base. Pretty refreshing stuff.

I also sipped two other altbiers before settling in for the night. Auberge Alt was slightly darker and a little sweeter than most of the others I sampled, while Diebels Alt was smooth and mellow. It had a nice warm brown color, but the head on this beer faded faster than the other alts.

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