Germany, well North Germany, is getting an expensive place to drink. On my recent trip to Düsseldorf, the brew pubs in particular, the glorious four of Uerige, Schumacher, Fuchsen and Schlussel all the alt beer hovered around the €1.80 mark for a 25cl glass. That's pretty hefty, especially when you effectively pay €2, as given that when there was a lot of us and the bill was paid jointly, you ended up chipping in two euros for convenience. Even when you paid yourself, it seemed a bit petty to wait for 20c change. I'm guessing too that is pretty standard. Not a great deal for the drinker, but admittedly it was at least nice for the waiter. Twenty five centilitres isn't much either, so you end up with quite a few glasses to pay for.
Germany is wealthy. North Rhine Westphalia is one of the better off places in a better off country. Düsseldorf is one of the better off places in a better off state. You see the picture. The place seems to be booming. The pubs were pretty much full to bursting point. We were refused admission to some, so busy were they. Even with these pubs typically flowering into room after room receding into the distance and deep into the bowels of the earth where even more rooms lurk, it was "house full." There was no room (or very little of it) at the inn. Dining, despite its sameness in that part of the world, edges drinkers out too and a point for those that think smoking bans always affect trade adversely, North Rhine Westphalia has recently extended its ban to all but the smallest of places and that seemed to make no difference to custom at all. Pub going was a thriving affair in every way.
Nor, in most cases, did you have to run a gauntlet of smokers outside. They all seemed just to be getting on with it despite smoking being more or less a national sport. A different world it seems.
There is a degree of confidence, maybe more than that in Germany that you just don't get at home. More to follow.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer writer, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival from 2013 to date. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink. He also judges beer at both the International Beer Challenge and the World Beer Awards.
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