Monday, April 10, 2017

Great Bars of the World - Zum Bitburger

I must share a Kneipe (pub) in Frankfurt, in the state of Hesse, in central Germany - a delightful little slice of heaven known as Zum Bitburger. It is located in downtown Frankfurt on Hochstraße 54 a couple of blocks from the Alte Oper (old Opera house) subway station. As the name implies, the beer of choice here is Bitburger ... definitely a tier-1 German pilsner. What makes this bar great however is how the Bitburger, only in zum Bitburger, is served.

It helps to start with a few snippets of German beer culture. It takes around seven minutes to properly pour a Pils (pilsner) in Germany and what Zum Bitburger has done, brilliantly I may add, is to turn this potential irritant into an honored ritual. The beer drinker however is required to participate to make this all work. Zum Bitburger does two things to set the stage: (1) they have installed refrigerated coils behind the bar where pilsners, going through the seven minute pouring process, may "rest" in a chilled state thus preserving their freshness; and (2) Zum Bitburger offers a range of pilsner glassware sizes all the way down to 0.4L (about 85% of a pint). Definitely go with the small one - 0.4L!

Dipping a second toe into the immense pool that is German beer culture, let's talk about beer glassware style as it also plays a key part in this ritual. In this case, the style of glass offered by Zum Bitburger is the Pokal. All pilsner glasses are relatively tall, cyclindrically shaped affairs; what makes the Pokal unique is that it has a foot. This foot effectively raise the beer above the table and therefore acts to insulate the beer in the glass by minimizing direct contact between cold liquid and a relatively warmer table surface. As for the matter of the size of the glass, you may be wondering how a smaller size is actually better for the beer drinker ... bigger is better right? After all, the stereotypical picture of beer drinking in Germany involves the hefty one liter Oktoberfest Maßkrug. That's more of a Bavarian thing, you're in Hesse now folks and the locals here on definitely onto something good! Smaller in this case is definitely better and I'll explain why.

As said, this is where the beer connoisseur is strongly advised to get involved in order to reach Pils Nirvana. The foundational premise here is that, at an unhurried pace, it takes around seven minutes to drink a 0.4L beer. Figure ten to twelve minutes for a pint, so seven to eight minutes for what is essentially a tad more than eighty percent of a pint is about right. The secret of Zum Bitburger is for the beer drinker to order the next 0.4L Pils, as the current beer is being served, and thus set up what I'll call the VPC (Virtuous Pils Cycle)! By following this regimen, whereby your beer in hand is consumed in the same timeframe that its replacement is being poured; your evening will involve getting a fresh new beer just as you have drained the last delicious sip from your current one! And, only at Zum Bitburger, each of these little goblets of gold, is served fresh and chilled to absolute perfection ... truly, it doesn't get much better than this!

A final word on drinking pace. Seven minutes to drink a well poured Pils may seem a bit of a slow pace for some readers. I encourage you, and you know who you are, to take the long view here. Once started, a well executed VPC can easily run the bar tab well into the double digits in terms of beers consumed. Trust me on this, relax, unclinch and dare yourself to take it easy ... slow life down a bit and enjoy some great beer. With great beer, as in life, it's not the destination, it is the journey my friend!

Oh, and speaking of enjoyable journeys, do yourself a favor and remember to make a reservation here or you'll probably not get a seat. The internet makes this easy, one needs to just click on "Tisch Reservieren" (upper right of web page) at:


the Bier Kaiser

No comments: