Saturday, September 10, 2011

Part 6: Dortmund

After we left Wöllnitz, we drove across the German countryside to the Dortmund/Düsseldorf/Köln area, stopping in Dortmund for a night's stay before a couple of days in Köln. Dortmund was cute, but nothing too remarkable or notable. We went to the city center for dinner and ended up in "Zum Alten Markt" ("at the old market") that was like a German version of Old Spaghetti Factory. Kitsch everywhere, gigantic portions of mediocre food, and slow service. Its saving grace was the beer, but even then I didn't mind leaving.
Bird cages hanging from the ceiling of Zum Alten Markt.
It was just missing the streetcar in the middle of the restaurant.

We crossed the square to a place called Brinkhoff's and enjoyed a house beer (eh) and a delicious Czech black lager called Krusovice Cerne. Like others we tried in Prague, this one smelled and tasted a bit of plums and dried fruit, but was still light-bodied and easy to drink. There was a touch of roast & coffee in the finish thanks to the dark malt. There aren't a ton of black Czech lagers you can get here, but Bernard Cerne is fantastic - and easily available in KC (at least at Royal, anyway).

Pilsners in this area come in stemmed glasses - not what we know as pilsner glasses - with paper doilies.
I could have sworn I'd read that you could get Dortmunder Export at Zum Alten Markt, but apparently I remembered wrong. Your best bet at getting a Dortmunder Export in the US is going to be via Ayinger's "Jahrhundert" beer, or Great Lakes' Dortmunder Gold (for which you'll have to trade or travel).

Bottom Line - the best beer I had in Dortmund was a Czech beer. I'm sure others have different experiences, but I found most of the local pilsners to be flabby and unremarkable. Pilsner malt graininess, mild hop bitterness, floral hop aroma, and light residual sweetness; nothing outstanding but nothing horrible. Not that I was ungrateful to be there; it just paled in comparison to the other cities we went to. But, the mediocrity was short-lived, as the next day we headed off to Düsseldorf and Köln for some Altbier and Kölsch .

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