Traditional Beer and Food in Cologne

Thinking about what food you’re going to eat in Cologne, Germany? You’re in luck, there are some pretty delicious dishes to try out!

One can eat pretty well in most traditional-style Kölsch restaurants, and as a visitor, you should try some of the local food in Cologne, which is quite rustic, but tasty, hearty fare.

The brewery taps (Früh, Sion, Pfaffen, Malzmühle etc. in the old town south of the Dom) are worth taking note of to that respect, although they tend to be expensive for what you get (but still worth the experience).

See also: Off The Beaten Track Tip: Belgian Quarter Cologne

Restaurants in Cologne

When looking for restaurants in Cologne, places out of the way such as Schreckenskammer and Max Stark (north of the train station, the former being within crawling distance of the Station Backpackers Hostel), Päffgen (Friesenstrasse) and both of Cologne’s independent brewpubs (Hellers Brauhaus on Roonstrasse and Braustelle in Ehrenfeld) offer cheaper and better food than the old town tourist traps. Besides, most of these places have tons of atmosphere, which doesn’t hurt!

You may also experience the deadly dry wit of the Köbes (traditional name of the blue-clad waiters) in most of those places. If it happens to you, don’t get upset, just enter the game, send the Köbes packing with a dig and a smile and you’ll be all right. You’ll mostly find typical Rheinland dishes in those traditional Kneipen.

Local food in Cologne, Germany
Where to get local food in Cologne, Germany – depositphotos.com

Traditional food in Cologne that you have to try

Here are a few local foods in Cologne to try out:

  • Halver Hahn: a nice big slab of dutch gouda with a rye roll (Röggelchen)
  • Himmel und Äd mit Flönz: fried black pudding with mashed potatoes (“earth”), apple sauce (“heaven”) and fried onions. 
  • Soorbrode /Sauerbraten: a joint marinated in vinegar with raisins, usually served with red cabbage and a kloss (potato dumpling). The joint may be beef or horsemeat, so you may want to ask first…
  • Dicke Bunne mit Speck: boiled white beans with hefty boiled bacon slices on top. 

& my favorites

  • Schweinshaxe aka Hämchen: pig’s leg, usually a bit of a monster (ranges from 600 to 1400 grms, including the bone)
  • Rievekoochen / Reibekuchen: flat fried potato cakes usually on offer once a week, and served with a variety of sweet or savoury toppings, which may include apple sauce, Rübenkraut (the beet-sourced equivalent to black treacle) or smoked salmon with horseradish cream.

Cologne is famous for its Kölsch (beer)

When in Cologne, you have to try the beer!

Typical Cologne beer is called “Kölsch” and served in bars around town in small glasses, called “Stangen”, of 0.2l. That way the beer is always fresh and cold.

Don’t worry, waiters will quickly bring you a new one once your old one is (almost) finished. In more traditional bars and especially the breweries, the waiter (called “Köbes” in local language) will even hand you a fresh Kölsch without being asked, so it is easy to lose track of how much you drank. He will put a pencil line on your coaster for each beer that you drink, this will be the basis for your bill, so do not lose it!

To stop the beer from coming, put the coaster on top of your empty glass. You may also experience the deadly dry wit of the Köbes (traditional name of the blue-clad waiters) in most of those places.

If you buy bottled Kölsch, take either “Reissdorf”, “Früh”, “Gaffel” or “Mühlen”, which are rated highest by Cologne citizens (there are about 30 more brands). There are so many bars and pubs to choose from that you could spend most of the night going from one bar to the next.

Beer in Cologne, Germany
Beer in Cologne, Germany – depositphotos.com

Where to get beer in Cologne

For traditional breweries, head to the Altstadt around the Dom, where the “Früh Kölsch” brewery is the most authentic place, famous both with visitors and locals.

A few of the restaurants that we mentioned above are also great for beer.

You will find a younger crowd at “Hellers Brauhaus” on Roonstraße, near metro station Zülpicher Platz or “Brauhaus Pütz” on Engelbertstraße close to Rudolfplatz.

Furthermore the “Päffgen“, on the all-bar street Friesenstraße close to the Friesenplatz, and the “Mühlen” near Heumarkt are traditional brewery pubs but less touristy than the “Früh“.

Früh brewery in cologne
Früh – Famous Brewery and pub in Cologne. Depositphotos.com

Also recommended is Sion, which is a lesser known brand, but hailed to be very good, although some beer enthusiasts have found it lacking character from 2007 onwards.

Most Altstadt pubs are somewhat scorned as “tourist traps” by locals, however: prices here are usually higher on Zülpicher Straße. The breweries also serve you great meals from the typical local cuisine, and they are famous for its large portions.

DO NOT order another beer than Kölsch in a brewery (especially not Alt beer from Düsseldorf)! It’s very unfriendly and it might happen that you get kicked out in a brewery! Ok, if you don’t speak German, I guess you might be lucky…but if you are German…you will be kicked out! It’s because of the rivalry between both cities.

Also, if you order a glass of milk, it might take more than 30 minutes till you get it. Your friends will have a few glasses of Kölsch in that time already.

There are a lot of modern bars and lounges all around town. More mainstream ones are on Zülpicher Straße. For something more independent and funky on this street, try Umbruch (funky) or Stiefel (punky). The Low Budget on Aachener Straße next to Moltkestraße metro is a nice, unassuming, punky bar which features a fine selection of drinks and often hosts concerts, poetry or cabaret sessions.

A lot of stylish places are in the so-called Belgian quarter between Aachener Straße and the Ring, e.g. famous M20 or the Hallmackenreuther.


Enjoy a Relaxing Beer Spa Experience in the Czech Republic

If you happen to be travelling to the Czech Republic, you have to try the beer spa experience

Did you say beer and Spa in the same sentence you ask? Surely you mean enjoying a relaxing beer whilst at a spa? 

After all, this is the Czech Republic we’re talking about here. 

In the Czech Republic, it’s possible to enjoy a relaxing bath in a tub full of beer

I kid you not; this is not an urban myth, if you visit the Czech Republic you can also enjoy this rather oddly relaxing experience of bathing in a whole tub of beer. 

After all the Czechs have plenty of beer to go around with a whopping 400 breweries on offer across the country. 

I’ve often seen beer cheaper than popular soft drinks in supermarkets, making it a refreshing beverage of choice to enjoy amongst the locals.

Fun Fact

The Czech Republic holds the title of being the most prominent beer-drinking nation in the world drinking a massive 191.8 litres per capita per year in 2018. That’s a whopping 2,033 million litres total.

After all, the Czech Republic is the birthplace of many styles of beer such as Budweiser and Pilsner and is home to countless breweries throughout the country. 

One thing is for sure, the Czechs know how to craft an incredible beer and the Czech Republic, in my opinion, serves the best beer in Europe for the price.

Being a big fan of beer, I’ve been on many beer trips to the Czech Republic. I love to enjoy the incredible craft of Czech Beer and the beer tourism scene. 

So, when it comes to enjoying a beer spa, simply put, where do I sign up? 

If any nation on the planet were serious about bathing in beer, it would be the Czechs for sure.

Beer Spa Experience

The whole process of a beer spa is rather bizarre from start to finish. 

You can book yourself a Beer Spa Experience pretty much across all of the Czech Republic; it’s a popular experience amongst locals and visitors to the country. 

However, the price will differ depending on where you go. I’ve seen prices in Prague for around the €120 for two people sharing and around €30 for one person where I was, in the Liberec region. 

For my beer spa experience, I went to the region of Liberec, surrounded by the Jizera Mountains, commonly called and nicknamed the Manchester of Bohemia. 

Here you can find the town of Harrachov which has a local brewery offering a beer spa experience. 

Sadly the beer itself in the tub isn’t drinkable, but I’m not sure you would want to drink a tub full of beer that you’ve been bathing in any way. 

It’s more the mash and ingredients that you would find in a beer. 

So yes, you can make beer with it, but it’s not as if you’re bathing in sticky carbonated liquid. 

It’s all the healthy ingredients that make beer to form some soothing bath mixture that’s good for your health. 

The beer bath procedure is prepared in a rehabilitative tub filled with natural, untreated mountain water (36°C) mixed with 5 litres of light and 5 litres of dark unfiltered non-pasteurised yeast beer, combined with crushed hops.

Of course, every beer spa experience wouldn’t be complete without an actual glass of refreshing beer to complete the ambience. 

Most packages will include a glass or two of beer and some even provide a beer tap next to your tub, so you can drink away to your heart’s content. 

Conclusion

I found the whole experience rather relaxing and enjoyed the entire concept a lot. 

It was like chilling in a hot tub full of beer, and I could feel the positive benefits of the beer ingredients working its magic on my skin, I can see the effect it can have on your health. 

However, I did smell of beer for the rest of the remaining day and did get a few funny looks. 

It’s something unique to try and enjoy in the Czech Republic and would highly recommend it if you have an opportunity.

Give it a go!

I’m looking forward to hopefully visiting the Czech Republic next year again and enjoy a refreshing Czech beer in a relaxing beer spa on my next trip.