In September 2015 I spent a long weekend in Dusseldorf.
It’s a brilliant place – loads of culture (although I didn’t see much) – but most importantly, it’s Old Town has over 200 bars in a 1/2 square mile! And so it began…
The first night we headed to the centre of Old Town and noticed that one pub in particular was far busier than the others. And that’s no over exaggeration – the place took up most of the street and loads of people were sitting and standing outside having a great time. Crucially, they were all locals – so we were onto a winner! No tourist traps for us…
Inside, we soon realised that the pub was actually a brewery! There were guys rolling old wooden barrels through the crowds and hooking them straight up to the taps. Waiters were literally running between tables with giant trays filled with small glasses of brown beer. We liked what we saw and took a table.
Minutes later a waiter appeared in front of us and stared expectantly (this guy was in a hurry!) so in our best German we said, “Drei bier bitte”. At which he threw three glasses at the table and vaporised. Slightly stunned at the lack of English over-polietness we quickly got with the programme. The next few hours were spent shouting “DREI!” at each passing waiter. They made 3 marks on our table matt and everyone was happy; well, merry.
The next morning (read: lunchtime) we woke up hungry, and like any Englishman abroad decided to hunt down an Irish Pub for a fry-up! However, once we got to the river we stumbled on a riverside bar that was hosting its own Oktober Festival! The place was jumping! Inside was packed with locals all in their traditional outfits, singing along to the band and waving massive glasses of beer in the air! Hallelujah. In we went….
Everyone was happily singing along and there wasn’t another tourist in sight. This really was a treat. However our smugness soon brought us down to reality as we didn’t understand anything on the all-German menu!
Soon we were introduced to the 1 waitress that spoke a little English. She didn’t understand what a “fry-up” was and promptly told us, “I think you want a schnitzel”. So we had schnitzel for breakfast… and a litre of beer each!
We stayed at the festival until it was dark: consuming around 6 litres each and waving our glasses around with the rest of ’em! Although they probably didn’t appreciate our German singing…
- I used to think those large German beer glasses were called “Steins” but apparently I’m wrong. I “Beer Stein” is usually made of stone, so those glasses are actually called a Mass. Just like we call them Pint Glasses, relating to the capacity it holds. A Mass = 1 litre. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ma%C3%9F
- The Old Town in Dusseldorf has its own style of beer: Alt Beer. It’s a clear, dark brown ale with a large fluffy head and usually served in 1/2 or 1/3 tall glasses.