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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Back to Uerige

See that picture of me I've had pinned to the top left corner of the blog since I started it, a little over a year ago? That was taken -- a little over a year ago -- at Zum Uerige, in Düsseldorf. I hope to have another one soon: I'm headed back. Stephen Beaumont recently contacted me, saying, I'm going to Düsseldorf and Belgium, wanna come along? Hell yes, I did: I, um... have never been to Belgium. True. So I'm going to fix that. After all, Steve's never been to Düsseldorf.

The fun thing is, what originally seemed like a problem -- a trade fair in Düsseldorf made it impossible to find a hotel room (is there always a damned trade fair in that town?) -- turned into a plus: we decided to stay in Köln and take the train back and forth, getting us what Steve is joyfully calling 'a twofer.' So I'm essentially going to be commuting to work, something I haven't done in over ten years, unless you count walking down to my basement office (as I'm sure Ms. Anonymous will tell me doesn't count because it's not a job...thanks, toots). And when I "get home from work," I can toddle by the spectacular Dom for a couple glasses at Früh.

Ahhh, wonderful...and that's not even touching on the beauty that will be visiting Belgium: Brussels, Ghent, a couple small family breweries in the country. I'll be trying to blog some of this for you, but I may get busy. You understand, of course.

It's all part of my continuing education (without brewery sponsorship, by the way) to get to know these places, these breweries, these beers better, so I can write better. Okay, it's fun, too, but shouldn't every job be this satisfying?

(Addition: I promised Adam I'd post the two sites I used to plan that first trip to Düsseldorf and Köln: Ron Pattinson's excellent and superbly chatty European Beer Guide, and Fred Waltman's much more focused Sticke Warriors site. BTW, Adam: I fully endorse Fred's recommendation of Hotel Haus Rheinblick (the link's in German, but if you can figure out that "Reservierungsanfrage" means "reservation requests," you can probably take it from there), a very nice family-run hotel in the north half of the Altstadt, a short easy walk to the Rhine, Im Goldenen Ring is three minutes walk, Uerige is about seven minutes, Im Füchschen is about 12 minutes...and you get breakfast, too, for well under E100 a night. I can't recommend the penzione where I stayed in Köln; clean, but not particularly comfortable, in the Turkish quarter, which was fascinating (and delicious) during the day, but scary at night; we heard frightened screaming people running through the streets two nights in a row. Trying a new place this time; pricier, but close to the train station, because of the commute. Actually...I just looked at the map, and it's not closer to the station. But it is right beside Malzmühle, and it's not uphill, so I'd say it's a win.)


Dan Bengel said...

When are you going my session loving friend?

Alan said...

Are you taking requests for things to check out, blogging vicariously for others? Can you get me a kölschkranz?

Steven said...

Freakin' sweet plans, man -- I'm completely jealous. When do you go?

Stan Hieronymus said...

A must stop for mustard in Ghent:

Vve Tierenteijn-Verlent

Right on the Groentenmarkt, but check the hours. You can even take your own jar to be filled.

One of the most vivid aroma memories of my youth was this store/museum when I was eight years old.

Lew Bryson said...

Thanks for the mustard tip, Stan: I'm going to be stocking up in D-dorf, too.

As to when I leave, I've been asked to be less than precise for family security reasons. Kind of a drag, but that's the weird world we live in. Thank some particularly disgusting and vaguely threatening "anonymous" posts lately.

Alan, vicarious blogging? What did you want checked out? But seriously, I'm going to be traveling too light to bring back a damned kölschkranz.

Alan said...

Reason #4376593 that Lew Bryson is happy he is not married to me is he will never have to listen to me scream "if you love me you would get me a kölschkranz!"

I will have to think about the vicarious blogging wishlist.

J said...

Have a great trip.

I'm not a big fan of Belgians myself, but it's a taste I hope to one day acquire with age. I feel like I'm missing out on so many great beers and bars.

That's very weird and scary about the threats. You wouldn't think discussing beer would inspire such hostility.

Adam said...

Ahhh yes, the land of the yummy droplet. :-)

Someday...I hope to go. Someday.

Anonymous said...

Oh, now that is not cool, to make your family uncomfortable when you take a trip...

Do you want or wish some "protection" while you are gone?? I can arrange it with a few contacts.

Nate said...

I loved Zum Uerige ... spent 40 minutes chatting with a retired couple one Friday mid-afternoon while having several Alts. If you've not been, I liked Zum Schlüssel for their Alt - and the dinners were good, too.

Have you had Schreckenskammer Kölsch while in Köln? It's a good one that many have not found, unlike Früh or Pfaffen which are more on the beaten path.

Enjoy Brussels! Hopefully you can make it over to Bruges, too. Staminee de Garre and 't Brugs Beertje are great places there.

Sigh. Reading your post makes me want to weep, then grab a plane ticket!

Lew Bryson said...

I loved Schreckenskammer! That was a great place, one where you could really feel the age. But I'll admit: after a long day of tramping around in some of the worst weather Europe's seen in the past 30 years (we were there during last winter's big blow, when they shut down DB in all of Germany for the first time since the war), Schreckenskammer was the last stop, and I was much more interested in the place and the people than the subtleties of the kölsch. I'll be sure to give it more attention this time, assuming I can talk Steve into walking up there. Hope so; I thought it was excellent.

I didn't eat in Schlüssel last time, just drank the alt; we'll see about adding food this time. Uerige is simply one of the best places to drink beer I've ever found.

Damn, Nate, I know exactly what you mean about weeping and grabbing a plane ticket -- I did just that!

Lew Bryson said...

Thanks, it's appreciated. But our early-retired neighbor is forewarned and forearmed.

save your nickels, save your dimes, because Düsseldorf is just fantastic. A thoroughly excellent place to enjoy beer and beer culture. I did my trip last year completely on my own dime, and only sold one small story on it (I'm only now learning how to pitch stories on beers that don't get much import play here, with a lot of much-appreciated help from Mr. Beaumont), and I can't say when I've spent better money on beer travel. I'll add two sites to the original post that were a huge help in planning the first trip, and I'm using again this time.

Superfecta said...

We honeymooned in Belgium (because I'm that geeky) and had a great time in Gent and Brugge. The only downside to going this time of year is that a lot of the breweries outside Brussels are closed for tours for the season, but I'm sure you can get special dispensation. If memory serves, Straffe Hendrick was the only one that was open that winter (and well worth the trip).

Lew Bryson said...


Yeah, we're contacting ahead of time to make sure everywhere we're headed is open. Ran into the same thing on my honeymoon in Ireland in mid-December, 1989: a lot more closed places than open.

Anonymous said...

Add me to the list of the "jealous". I love Dusseldorf.

Lift a few for me!

Lew Bryson said...

Will do, Guy: I want to go back to that pizza place, too!

Anonymous said...

LOL, Hotel Haus Rheinblick! That place is a classic. Amazingly cheap and well located. Safe and mostly clean, but a bit creaky and only slightly dingy.

With the old lady padding around in her slippers and bathrobe, the wirehaired dachshund growling at you from under the table, it reminds me so much of the places I stayed at throughout Germany in the 80s. It certainly won't be there forever (it's hard to find such Mom & Pop hotels in the cities anymore), but it's a great place to sleep off the beers.

Anonymous said...

Just remember, that pizza place is best at about 2am after a couple dozen beers. In the bright daylight without previous liquid refreshment, I found it didn't quite live up to my memories.