Monday 20th January 2014
This brewery claims it has brewed to the same recipe since its inception in 1873. However it has been brewed in three different places since it started and people say the beer is not as good as it used to be. You hear this sort of thing quite a lot, yet sometimes there is some substance in what is said. To appreciate this you have to look at the history of Frankenheim over the last 25 years.
When the brewery was established it was on this site and it continued to serve the good folk of Düsseldorf without great fanfare for a very long time.
In 1991 it outgrew this Wielandstrasse site and a new brewery was created in Neuss-Holzheim. Neuss is on the other side of the River Rhine.
Although I drank Frankenheim prior to 1991 I always associated it with Neuss, blissfully unaware that for most of its life it was brewed in Düsseldorf.
Because this was a first-time visit I hadn't made the obvious connection through previously drinking here. That is of great personal regret because this is a great pub in the traditional Düsseldorf style. Anyway, back to recent times; in 2005 Warsteiner took a 60% controlling interest and although they are a private brewery they acted like a multi-national.
In March 2009 they closed the Neuss brewery, making 20 staff redundant, and transferred brewing of Frankenhein Alt to their own brewery in Soest. The premises at Neuss remain as a distribution depot. It is from this time that I think the comments on the taste made by the regular drinkers begin. One thing that is obvious is that Warsteiner have heavily promoted the beer as it is to be seen in bars all over the city, or are they heavily discounting? Even in my recent memory it was quite hard to find, now you can't avoid it!
Despite the comments above, I thought the beer at the Stammhaus to be quite good, but I don't drink Altbier every day. One thing I do know is that it is essential it is dispensed from a wooden barrel or the poly version; ersatz-holzfass or imitation wooden cask. There is one of these on the bar in this pub.
As said before this a traditional pub and it contains five separate rooms but I stayed close to the barrel. I was served by a waitress in the tradition blue garb of the Kobes. This is the traditional server, and this pub appears to be the only house where women perform this function, along with men.
I looked around and could see that it is very comfortable, with scrubbed wood tables and lots of varnished wood panelling, some full height and also some at head height. There are many pictures and portraits, some which are of the former owning family, I guess. Each room is separated from the others by divisions. The bar area is crowned by a magnificent upturned former brewing copper. There is also a fantastic boar's head, an absolutely essential item in all traditional pubs!
Reflecting the current ownership, there is Warsteiner Pils offered on keg, but the real deal is Frankenheim Alt (4.9%) served from a cask on the bar. This is a great pub that possesses the traditional Düsseldorf atmosphere and is well worth the five minute tram ride from the Altstadt.
Frankenheim-Brauereiausschank, Wielandstrasse 14-16, Düsseldorf. Tel: 0211 351447
Open: Monday-Saturday 10.30-01.00; Sunday 10.00-24.00
The pub is easily reached. The station/stop that serves the Altstadt (Old Town) is Heinrich-Heine-Strasse and it is just a five minute tram ride to Pempelforterstrasse. The trams are 703, 712 and 713. From this stop walk in the same direction and after about 200 metres you will find the pub on the left.
Should you be coming from the Hauptbahnhof (Main station) catch the S-Bahn (Suburban Railway) to Düsseldorf-Wehrhahn. The lines are S1, S6 and S11. Leave the station at the exit in the direction of travel and at street level use the crossing to the other side of the road. On the other side, turn left and cross the major intersection, keep walking in the same direction and you will find the pub on the right.