Michael (37) is the founder of The Kölsch Crew. Here he introduces himself to you and reveals a few of his insider tips for your stay in Cologne.
Where are you from?
I always say that I come from Cologne and I feel that from the bottom of my heart. But the truth is that my parents moved out of Cologne shortly before I was born and I only came to Cologne at the age of 13 after an odyssey through the Eifel mountains and Brandenburg. Later I lived in different places in Germany, France and Canada, but it was always clear to me that Cologne was my home!
How did you get into doing brewhouse tours in Cologne?
During my studies, I ended up at another agency by chance and started to guide brewhouse tours there. I quickly noticed that I have a lot of fun getting to know great people again and again and taking them to my favorite brewhouses in Cologne and telling them about the culture that surrounds Kölsch. Since I've always traveled a lot and it has given me a lot to get to know cool people from all over the world, I thought it was a real shame that there was practically no English-language offer for brewhouse tours in Cologne. That was the reason for me to start The Kölsch Crew.
Why do you like to show people around Cologne's brewhouses?
I love to travel and I like to get to know very different people from all over the world. Unfortunately, I can't always travel and that's why every time I guide a tour, it's like a little vacation for me, where I get to know really great people and spend an afternoon or evening with them. As a Cologne resident, I naturally love to talk about our city, which is so multifaceted that I have been able to surprise every one of my guests so far. And of course I'm a big fan of Kölsch!
What makes Cologne special for you?
First of all, the people! The people of Cologne are open-hearted, tolerant people who care for one another. This can be seen, for example, in the fact that you can meet everyone from apprentices to millionaires at the bar in a local corner pub and start a conversation pretty quickly. But I also find the love for the city, sometimes self-ironically exaggerated, totally fascinating. This can be seen, for example, in the local music culture, which cannot be found anywhere else in this dimension. Anyone who has ever seen the song "Et jitt kei Wood" by Cat Ballou, being sung along by the people in a pub in Cologne knows what feeling I'm talking about.
Where can you be met for a private Kölsch?
In all different kinds of pubs, but also while strolling through the city with a bottled beer! Here is a small selection of my favorite pubs in the city center sorted by district:
Old town: Kunstkaschämm and Jeck (only good Cologne music is played in Jeck)
Belgian quarter: Joode Lade and Kölschbar
Kwartier Latäng (student area): Kwartier, Black Sheep Pub (very cool mix of Cologne pub and Irish pub) and Piranha
Eigelstein: Lapidarium and Durst (if you are into cool, really run-down dive bars)
There are also great bars to discover in the other districts of Cologne. I'll try to make a post about them in the future.
What are your must-eats in Cologne?
A pork chop at Lommerzheim in Deutz for sure! Schnitzel at Oma Kleinmanns are a must as well. My personal insider tip are the crêpes at Engelbät and Lisbät. The brewhouses that I take you to in the old town also all have really good food and I like to eat there privately.
What do you have to see (apart from the cathedral) in Cologne?
Clearly the parking garage in front of the cathedral! Sounds strange, but go in there through the entrance between the main portal of the cathedral, the McDonald's on the corner, and the tourist office. I promise you won't be disappointed!