Saturday 26th November 2011
Situated in a city in the centre of Germany, between Frankfurt in the south and Kassel in the north, the Alt Giessen is actually many things. As well as from being a brew pub and a restaurant, it is also a hotel. I think it would be an interesting place to stay as, if one over indulged, it wouldn't be far to get to your bed.
From a distance the place looked very welcoming on a chilly evening. It's on a ring road that encircles the old city centre at Westanlage 32-34, and is just over ten minutes walk from Giessen railway station.
As soon as I was in the door I couldn't help noticing the bizarre sculpture cum fountain which actually hides the brewery from view. It's located on a slightly higher level and the green tiles that encase the vessels can be seen on the left of the photo, shown below.
On entering I took a place at the bar, it wasn't very busy. I ordered a Dunkles beer and liked it a lot. There was a choice of four. The regulars were Helles (Light) (4. 8%), Dunkles (Dark) (5.0%) and Weizen (Wheat) (5.3%). They also have seasonal beers. At this time of year it was Weihnachtsbock (Christmas Bock) (6.3%). I passed on this, too strong! I thought the two beers I had, Helles and Dunkles, were both very good.
There is a trend in German brew pubs whereby they move the beer just after the brewing stage to a vessel where it ferments for about a week and is then served directly to the glass with all the associated cloudiness. The poor consumers are told that this is "healthy" drinking. Possibly, but it is certainly a cheap process, with maximum profits.
Here, I believe, things are done differently, as they make a point of mentioning the cellar. I think they mature the beer for a reasonable time and then transfer it to another vessel for serving. I noticed that, although the beers were advertised as being unfiltered, they were fairly clear in appearance, a plus point.
The pub has many rooms, including a Sky Sports bar. Of course, like most brew pubs, it majors on food, even describing its menu as being gastronomic. The service was good and was delivered by traditional restaurant dressed waiters and waitresses who were polite and efficient.
However a low point was reached by the "Manager", who was dressed as if he had just returned from a football game, in a garish shirt outside of his jeans. Now, I couldn't care a less about dress as long as service is good, but this guy stood out, ordering the staff about. But it was more than that. Twice he irritatingly moved the menu from where I was seated to an upright position on the bar. Of course, when he did it, I put it flat again, just to annoy him.
Him apart, the pub comes highly commended.
Alt Giessen, Westenlage 30, 35390 Giessen. Tel: 0641 962610
Open: Sun to Thurs 11.30-01.00; Fri & Sat 11.30-02.00.
About ten minutes walk from Giessen station.