Thursday 16th January 2014
This is a strange pub in many ways. It is not the kind of establishment you would think had a brewery. Its main function appears to be as an entertainment venue. Even in the winter period it was hosting bands and artistes consecutively on Wednesday to Saturday nights every week, all of which are pay to enter events.
Additionally, in summer there are Swiss Folklore evenings with traditional food and entertainment which include alphorns, cowbells, flag-waving and yodelling. I'm glad I went when I did! In fact, there were only two other customers.
It was around midday when I took a seat at one of the few tables allocated for drinking opposite the bar. I thought the decor was very weird, with the pub resembling a jungle scene with a "wild life" theme. The walls were covered with green plastic sheeting and the columns were wrapped in brown plastic to resemble tree trunks. Plastic "leaves" dangled from the ceiling and the whole ensemble was extremely unconvincing.
Yet I had missed the point, as the carnival season was just about to start. It culminates at the end of February when the Stadtkeller hosts several all-nighters. I suppose this covering actually protects the interior from some of the excesses that occur at these times. I presume the end of Lent was earlier in 2014.
There were two beers offered and these were as follows. Stadtkeller Hell 2011 (4.8%) is named after the year that their first home beer was served. It is made with German malt from Bavaria and the hops are also from Germany being Tettnang from southern Baden-Württemburg.
The other beer was very interesting as it was 5-Korn Bier Fortissimo (5.2%). This is made with five different grains: Barley, Wheat, Spelt, Rye and Oats. I thought both were really good, the Hell possessed good bitterness and the 5-Korn was beautifully complex.
There is a reason that they are of such high quality and that is because they share the same brewer as the Brauerei Rathaus, Reinhard Knispel. He has been the Braumeister at Rathaus since 1998.
I had looked around the Stadtkeller and couldn't see a brewery, although it is a large building.
The answer to this conundrum is that the beer is brewed down on the bank the River Reuss and the non-alcoholic wort is pumped through an underground pipe to the Stadtkeller where it undergoes primary and secondary fermentation of four weeks.
There is a full dining menu available and this pub is recommended, if only for its excellent beer, assuming you are able to visit at one of its quieter moments.
Stadtkeller, Sternenplatz 3, Luzern. CH-6004. Tel: 041 (0) 41 410 4733
Open Summer: Monday-Sunday 08.00-00.30
Open Winter: Wednesday-Sunday 08.00-00.30. Monday-Tuesday Closed
The Stadtkeller is around ten minutes from Luzern HB, the main station.
Descend from the concourse to the lower level, walk through the shopping arcade to Seebrücke, and go up the escalator. Cross over the Seebrücke and pass Rathausquai along the river bank. Continue and then turn left into Kapellgasse. You will see St Peters Church on the left in Kapellplatz. At this point turn tight into Hans-Holbein-Gasse. After a very short distance you will be in Sternenplatz and the Stadtkeller is on the left.