Saturday 28th September 2013
There are several components to this complex located in a former meat market known as Schanzen-Höfen. I approached from the south and admired the beautiful old building before entering. Yet I had not walked into the pub, as I was expecting to. I was in an extensive beer shop in which, seemingly every beer in the world, was on sale. Resisting this temptation I walked through to a large courtyard.
The brewery was observed on the right behind a glass wall. The atmosphere in the yard was more Oktoberfest than patio as there was a band playing, and English at that! Every bench and table was occupied and there were waiters and waitresses scurrying around all over the place. I continued around the throng into the Alte Mädchen pub. Like the courtyard outside, the interior was very expansive yet thankfully, nowhere near as busy. It was possible to walk all around the bar, although on one side, there was the kitchen area and a display of freshly-baked bread.
I took a stool at the bar and perused the menu. I immediately noticed that there was a very good choice of draught beers. The full choice was as follows:
Ratsherrn Pils (4.9%);
Ratsherrn Rotbier (red beer) (5.2%);
Ratsherrn Pale Ale (5.6%);
Ratsherrn Zwickel (5.6%);
Ratsherrn Hamburger Weissbier (5.4%).
There were also two other wheat beers from classic Bavarian breweries:
Hopf Weissbier Brauerei (Miesbach) Hefe Weizen (5.3%) Schneider Weisse Tap 6 – Unserer Aventius (8.2%!).
I tried three beers from Ratsherrn Brauerei and my notes are as follows. I started with the Zwickl which had the typical taste of the style yet with a goodly bitterness, which I liked a lot. Then it was Pils which was really nice and I thought it was more in the North German mode as there was a fairly strong hoppiness. Finally there was Pale Ale; I knew I would like this the most and I wasn't disappointed. It uses US hops: Amarillo, Chinook and Cascade and would be identical to a beer served in a West Coast brew pub.
Although the Ratsherrn Brauerei is next door, the pub is under different management. By the way, the seemingly strange title "Alte Mädchen" meaning old girl, has its origins in a song by German singer Freddy Quinn, and is a reference to a colloquial name for the city of Hamburg.
Despite it only being established on this site in 2012 the brewery has a bit of history. In 1951 the newly rebuilt Elbschloss Brauerei introduced Ratsherrn Pils. A Ratsherrn is a city councillor or alderman. The beer proved to be very popular and I remember drinking it several times. However it was to succumb like so many others when the brewery closed in 1995.
However, it bounced back in 2006 when it was brewed again as "cuckoo" beer; that is under contract at another brewery.
It finally found a home in 2012 with the creation of the Ratsherrn Brauerei. It is best described as a regional brewery as it is capable of producing 50,000 hectolitres per annum. A lot of the beer is distributed in bottles and can be found in shops and pubs all over the region.
All of the ingredients are of high quality with the malt mostly coming from Northern Germany and Denmark with that for the more specialist beers originating from the Weyermann maltings of Bamberg. The waste malt produced by the process is used in the baking of beer bread in the pub's bakery. Another interesting aspect of Ratsherrn is that they also have a microbrewery on the premises that often brews small-run specials.
Should you ever be in Hamburg, you could do no worse than divert to this excellent pub for a few hours. It is right next to the Exhibition grounds (Messe) and would make an excellent alternative to their bland beer bars.
Alte Mädchen/Ratsherrn Brauerei, Lagerstrasse 28b, Hamburg-Sternschanze 20357
Tel: 040 8000 77750
Open: Monday-Saturday 12.00-24.00; Sunday 10.00-24.00
The pub and brewery are less than 5 minutes away from Sternschanze station which is served by both the S-Bahn (suburban railway) and U-Bahn (underground railway) on lines S11, S21, S31 and U3. The S lines run from east to west and v.v. via the city centre and connect all the three major railway stations. The U line does a circuit throughout the centre and connects most other places of interest.
Leave the station by the southern exit (Messe) and turn to the right and the pub building will be in sight.