Dortmund and its beer: a love affair

Kommse vonne Schicht, watt Schönret gibtet nich als wie… Feierahmtbier. This roughly translates as: What could be better when you knock off from your shift than … an after-work beer. Well, things have changed a lot since the mines and steelworks closed down. The men and women of Dortmund certainly don’t take their pay packets straight to the pub with them these days. And yet beer continues to play an important role for the city. As they say: Once a brewery town, always a brewery town, and there’s nothing the people of Dortmund feel so patriotic about as their beer.

If you should wander into one of Dortmund’s traditional old pubs at Alter Markt or Gänsemarkt, you might find some of the customs a little odd. For example, you’re likely to hear someone ordering a “Durch” or a “Stößchen”. Whatever they might be! But Dortmund wouldn’t be a proper brewery town without a museum to prove it.

The Brewery Museum: the history of beer in Dortmund and around the world

A glass wall in the Brauerei Museum.
© DORTMUNDtourismus A glass wall in the Brauerei Museum.

If you would like to find out more about Dortmund’s rich brewing history, the Brewery Museum at Steigerstrasse is well worth a visit. Here, you can learn all you need to know about the history of barley pop and how the Dortmund art of brewing has influenced beer production across the world. And you’ll find out at last what a Stößchen actually is!

Dortmund beer was enjoyed around the world

A glass with the inscription Dortmunder Kronen. In the background, the stadium Rote Erde and the stadium Signal Iduna Park are slightly blurred.
© Stefan Reinke Kronen beer in the Rote Erde stadium

The Brewery Museum recalls a time when tourists didn’t come to Dortmund to drink the beer – the beer was taken to them. The Dortmunder Actien Brewery shipped its amber brew to all corners of the globe. DAB and other beers made Dortmund world famous.

Beer culture is on the up, and Dortmund is well worth a weekend trip for beer enthusiasts. For five days at the beginning of May, Dortmund celebrates its Festival of Dortmund Beer Culture at the foot of the Dortmunder U.

From dozens of breweries only two remain

Around the turn of the millennium, Dortmund’s centuries-old brewing history had reached an all-time low. Where once there had been dozens of breweries dotted around the city, after a series of mergers, acquisitions and insolvencies, only two breweries remained. All but one of the Dortmund beer brands now belong to the Radeberger Group, which itself belongs to Dr. Oetker. All of the Dortmund brands including Ritter, Union, Hansa, DAB, Kronen, Stifts, Thier, Brinkoff’s (and several more) are produced in a single brewery and the old-style Hövels brauhaus in the city centre.

Drop in to the Hövels Hausbrauerei for a glass of amber beer, or book yourself in for a tasting session and get to know all three Hövels specialities with optional sustenance from a menu of traditional Westphalian fare. For the serious beer enthusiast, the tiny brewery offers seminars where you will learn the essentials ofhops and malt, prepare a brew and earn your first brewing diploma. The seminar and beer tasting activities are also available in English.

How the people of Dortmund rediscovered their beer

Two glasses of Bergmann beer in the sunset.
© DORTMUNDtourismus Cheers!

It wasn’t until in 2005, when the Dortmunder Bergmann Bier brand was purchased on a whim and reactivated, that the city once famed for its many breweries finally regained an independent producer. What began as a nostalgic excursion has established itself as a fixture on the local beer scene. In addition to pils and export, Bergmann also brews Schwarzbier, Adam and a beer by the auspicious name of Hopfensünde.

More expensive than its mass-produced rivals, Bergmann is reserved by many people “for best”, while Hövels, which is brewed by the Radeberger Group, enjoys a similar status and is widely considered to be Dortmund’s finest.

Craft beer enjoys a comeback in Dortmund

Tapping into the emerging craft beer scene and the success of Bergmann beer, a number of smaller enterprises have launched their own micro brands with names like Hörder Fackel and Ernst Mit Erfolg. The popular Hövels label has also broadened its range to include Pale Ale and Craft Bock.

For true beer enthusiasts, there is a supermarket in the Dortmund suburb of Höchsten that offers beer tastings with its in-house beer sommelier.


Did you know?

Brasserie L’Auberge dab in Paris
© Stefan Reinke Brasserie L’Auberge dab in Paris

For a long, long time Dortmund basked in its reputation as a thriving brewery town. Of course, there’s “l’Auberge DAB” in Paris, a genteel brasserie that greets its guests with beautiful windows decorated with the brewery’s logo. But beer in Paris is far too expensive. In fact, it has been claimed that there are Parisians who board the Thalys at Gare du Nord, just to get a cheaper beer in Dortmund. Maybe! At least they could if they wanted to!