Eating and Drinking Kolsch in a Cologne Brew House
- Brewed only in Cologne: It's illegal for any other beer to call itself Kolsch, and almost a crime not to try it. Enjoy the golden, highly fermented lager with customary fare (called "eating Kolsch") at one of the city's many brew houses.
- St. Martin Church: This 12th-century former Benedictine abbey is called "Great" (Gross) for its architectural grandeur – a Rhine-regional twist incorporating ancient Roman structures – and its prominence in Cologne's skyline.
- Tunnes und Schal: In the shaded square by St. Martin Church, these two bronzed folklore figures – one tall and skinny, one short and squat – poke fun at each other and all Colognians.
- Fountain of the Pixies: This beloved city icon by the Roman Tower honors a centuries-old folk tale about industrious fairies who do the work lazy people skip.
About this Cologne Tour
It can come as a surprise to learn how serious Germans are about their bocks, ales, and lagers. Then again, it shouldn't: In a country with a whole month devoted to the communal cameraderie of boisterous beer-drinking, and the world's third-highest per capita consumption, you need some rules.
The applicable statutes here include the German Beer Purity Law, passed in 1516 to specify the ingredients, brewing process, names, and even price of beer. Additional ingredients have been allowed over the past 400 years, and the prices have changed. But only beer brewed in Cologne can be called Kolsch, the way only sparkling wine from Champagne can be called Champagne.
Then there are the unwritten rules: This high-hops, highly fermented brew is generally served in a 6.76-ounce cylindrical glass called a stange (meaning bar, or rod; the shape keeps Kolsch from losing its head) by blue-aproned Kobes. (They'll keep on serving until you place the coaster atop your glass.) And it's an affront to order a beer from rival brewing power Dusseldorf in Cologne's bars; you won't get thrown behind bars, but it's sort of a rule.
There's a whole separate code for the food that accompanies Kolsch, but you needn't concern yourself with the letter of the law on this tour. Just the spirit, and you'll find plenty of that.
With the automatic "keep 'em coming" implied by a coaster-less stang (they're small glasses anyway), Kobes are constantly rushing between tap and table. They might not be crazy about the origin of the name, either – it's a condescending term for unrefined locals who talk too loudly in Cologne's Kolsch dialect. The statues by St. Martin parody just such characters; Tunnes the country bumpkin, Schal the pretentious city dweller.
Please make your way to Koeln Tourismus GmbH, Kardinal-Hoeffner-Platz 1, 50667 Koeln, to meet your guide.
Bring small local coins for the bathroom. Take a rain coat and/or umbrella in case of rain. Don't miss out on tasting the original "Kolsch" beer. Cologne is famous for its local shops but you can also find a lot of global brands (shopping is possible before/after tour and not during the tour). The minimum age to drink wine is 16 years in Germany. Tour concludes in the brewery "Bierhaus d'r Salzgass."
Traveler must be able to walk approximately 2.8 miles (roughly 2 Hours 30 Minutes) over paved streets, steps and inclines with photo stops along the route. Tour is not accessible for wheelchair confined travelers.
Private Tour, Walking Tour, Family Friendly, Food & Wine
English, French, Spanish, Russian
Tour Participation Requirements
This experience is rated mild. To participate fully, you may be required to walk over primarily even surfaces at a leisurely pace. You may encounter a limited number of steps, cobblestones, or uneven surfaces, and you may have to stand for extended periods of time.
Suitable for travelers 16 years of age or older. You must be 16 years of age or older to drink beer in Germany. Bring photo ID as proof of age.
Special Medical Restriction
Participants must be in good health, disclose their physical fitness and advise any conditions that might impact their participation in the tour.
Full refunds issued for cancellations made 7 full days prior to the date and time of requested services. Cancellations made within the 7-day and 72-hour window will receive a 50% refund of purchase total. Purchases are non-refundable inside of 72 hours.
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