Cologne Pub Crawl

When in Germany, you drink beer.  When in Cologne, you drink Kölsch!  
Kölsch is a bit of a cross between an ale and a lager, and must be brewed within the Cologne city limits to use the name.  It's meant to be consumed icy cold, so it is served in small glasses, about 200ml or just over 6oz.  That way, you finish it before it gets warm and will immediately be presented with a fresh, cold one.  It's brewed in small batches, so you are always getting a fresh one.

One of the extra excursions offered while in Cologne was Cologne's Beer Culture & Dinner, but it was pointed out that it was essentially a pub crawl through the city.  Since mom and dad were treating us to the cruise, we decided to treat them to an extra excursion, and thought this one sounded fun - and it was!

We started the evening on a bus.  The two tour guides cracked a few jokes, but it remained pretty quiet for the most part of the ride.  We were dropped off in the city just a couple of blocks from the brauhaus where we would have dinner - Peter's.  We had a set menu of traditional German specialties (I can only remember the sauerbraten - a sort of German pot roast with raisins and a very sour, vinegary sauce.  It was good, but I definitely don't want it every day!)  Along with dinner we drank, of course, Kölsch!  The beer is served by waiters called köbes on round, tiered trays called "crowns" (like in the top photo of this post).
The köbes are very proud of their Kölsch, and do not want you to allow it to go warm and be ruined, so if you aren't drinking fast enough, they'll tell you!  They also keep the beer coming.  If they see your glass is nearly empty, they are going to put a new one in front of you whether you want it or not, and make a mark on your coaster to show how many you've had.  

We were taught that when you say Pröst! (German for cheers), you clink the base of your glass (so as not to allow anyone to poison your drink), and you must make eye contact!

If you've had enough, be sure to put your coaster on top of your glass.  This will signal the köbe that you don't want any more.

After dinner our guide led us roughly 100 meters to our first pub, a very quirky place called Papa Joe's.  The beer house was full of random musical instruments - all mechanical, old photos, and other memorabilia.  Crowns of chilled Kölsch immediately arrived at the tables, and the quiet group from the bus ride was no more!
As the sun began to set (it set very late in Europe!) and the most beautiful light poured over the city, we moved to our next destination, Bierhaus en Salzcass.  It was a much more typical bar that brewed and served its very own Kölsch. We were also given shots of something that tasted a lot like cold medicine - it was awful!  By this time everyone was the very best of friends!
The final stop of the evening was Haxenhaus zum Rheingarten, where the Kölsch was served by the meter, rather than by the crown.
(Couldn't get it all in one photo...)
That's better!
Then it was time to get back on the bus to head for the ship.  I guarantee that if we hadn't been setting off in the early hours of the morning, several of the guests on our tour would have spent the night out on the town!  Instead, we ran into them cracking open bottles of wine on the top deck while we took in views of Cologne at night.  (Lots of the people we were on the tour with looked pretty rough the next morning!!)
The Cologne Pub Crawl was such a fun night out, and I would definitely recommend the extra splurge if you ever take Viking's Romantic Rhine cruise!

Sorry about the photo quality - it was dark, and I had a lot of Kölsch!

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