The Alt is for Old

DUSSELDORF. Name the brewery that still uses a coolship, baudelot-style chiller, open fermentation, and serves their beer from wooden casks at the brewery. The answer is of course Uerige, a gorgeous, labyrinthine little brewery in Dusseldorf's altstadt (old town). Even the brewery's layout, which is entwined with nooks and crannies of the pub, feels old. (The coolest decorations are wreaths of dried hops.)

Thumbnail on the process: the beer starts out normally, through to the end of the boil. Then the wort goes up to the coolship (kuhlschiff) on the top floor where it spends 90 minutes going from just less than boiling down to 110 degrees. Then it goes over the chiller, a stack of pipes running with cold water, until it drops down to pitching temperature of about 68 degrees. Three hours is a long time to be exposed to the air, but for Uerige there is no worry of wild inoculation (amazingly).

I've always understood this to be a traditional, alt (old) style of beer. But I was shocked to see how traditional. Amazing. As a bonus, I got to zwickel a glass of dry-hopped doppelsticke, a wonderfully creamy, floral, and robust (8.5%) beer.