I spent a few days in the Rhineland last week, going round pubs, Christmas markets and cathedrals in Düsseldorf and Cologne, which I've made half a dozen or so trips to in the past decade. I also went to Aachen for the first time.
I kicked off at Brauerei Schumacher on Ostrasse, partly because it's only a short walk from Düsseldorf Hauptbahnhof, but also because it's got a special place in my beer memories: in 2009, it was the first pub in which I drank Altbier.
When I last went to Düsseldorf a couple of years ago, I wrote that Uerige Alt was "fast approaching Füchschen as my favourite Alt". I reckon it's now finally made it to top spot: it seems far darker, heavier and hoppier than when I first drank it six years ago.
Zum Uerige is easily my favourite pub in Düsseldorf. The first time I went, it was summer and I sat at the tables opposite, drinking Alt and eating sausages from the pub's own butchery under the shade of a canopy, but the real magic is inside the pub itself. I love wandering along its narrow corridors discovering different rooms, each with their own distinct atmosphere, from the long-tabled Neweaan dining room to the large, standing Brauhof at the back. My favourite though is Der Uerige, the taproom at the front, not just for the theatre of wooden barrels being hoisted up from the cellar and lifted onto the bar by the waiters, before being swiftly emptied, but also because sharing the small tables with the mostly sociable regulars means it's easy to strike up conversations with your fellow drinkers, albeit thereby inflicting my no more than passable German on them.