Not wanting to rub it in but, we just had a little jaunt over to Dusseldorf courtesy of Veltins. Which combined a couple of nights out making the most of Dusseldorf’s famous Altbier brewpubs, a visit to Veltins’ brewery, some ace meals all topped off with some Killepitsch, the cities favourite digestif (think a nicer version of Jagermeister). Anyway if you ever get a chance I can heartily recommend a trip, it’s a really nice, clean, vibrant city with the Altbier pubs providing a unique touch to the whole experience.
Altbier, translating as ‘old beer’, is a traditional brew of Dusseldorf in much the same way Kolsch is for Cologne, similarly they use top-fermenting ale yeast but the beer is given long cold conditioning like a lager giving a crisp finish. Altbier is generally darker than Kolsch but again the theatre surrounding it’s service is similar, blue clad beer waiters whizz round with trays full of 20cl measures poured from a large wooden(possibly faux wooden nowadays) barrel on the bar, your drink is replenished in a flash and your beermat marked with a tally of how many you’ve had. You will occasionally find them bottled over here, look out for Schumacher, Uerige, Fuchshen and Schlussel all definitely worth a try.
Finally our little visit to the brewery, Veltins is Germany’s 5th largest brewery and is still family owned, the current owner is Susanne Veltins. It has operated from the same site(ish) in Grevenstein since 1824, in the 80’s they blew up half a mountain to expand the brewery into the James Bond style uber-brewery it is today. They use 100% high grade malt, according to the tour if the malt doesn’t pass the strict lab tests they ship it down the road to the Warsteiner brewery, this fact is unverified. Hop flavour is from Hallertau Mittelfruh, a classic noble hop lending a subtle astringency and an earthy zest. Loads of fun automated processes as you might expect from such a huge brewery including a robot railway and mind-blowing bottle plant. The piece de resistance for me though was the water plant, water is drawn from 5 springs throughout the valley, Veltins practically bought the entire valley to protect this water source from contamination by other industry, they even have a hunting department to keep on top of wild life in the area. Anyway this pure spring water is stored in vast underground tanks then pumped to the top of the mountain during the night, when the electric is cheap and feeds the brewery by gravity during the day. All these factors and a decent lagering period contribute to making a crisp and refreshing pint of pilsner which I can endorse without any perceived bias from the reader, I hope.
There’s lots more to tell but I fear I may bore you with the details but you can always ask Will France about when he nearly wet himself on the way back from the brewery.
That’s about it, all there is left is to thanks Fritz from Veltins for being our guide and all at Vertical drinks for being so kind as to ask us to go.