Michael (38) is the founder of The Kölsch Crew. Here he introduces himself 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 13 after an odyssey through the Eifel mountains and Brandenburg. Later I lived in different places in Germany, France and Canada, but for me it was always clear that Cologne is my home!
How did you come to do beer tours in Cologne?
During my studies, I ended up at another agency rather by chance and started leading beer tours there. That’s when I quickly realized that I have a hell of a lot of fun meeting great people all the time and guiding them through my favorite beer halls in Cologne and telling them about the culture that surrounds Kölsch. Since I’ve always traveled a lot and it really gave me a lot to meet cool people from all over the world, I thought it was a real shame that there was practically no English-language offer for beer tours in Cologne. That was the reason for me to start The Kölsch Crew.
Why do you like guiding people through Cologne beer halls so much?
I love traveling and getting to know different people from all over the world. Unfortunately, you can’t always travel, so every time I lead a tour it’s like a little vacation for me, where I get to meet really great people and spend an afternoon or evening with them. As a Cologne resident, I naturally love to tell people about our city, which is so multifaceted that I’ve been able to surprise every one of my guests so far. And of course I am a very 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 anyone from an apprentice to a millionaire at the bar in the pub around the corner and also strike up a conversation pretty quickly. But I also find the sometimes self-deprecatingly exaggerated love for the city totally fascinating. This can be seen, for example, in the local music culture, which does not exist anywhere else in this dimension. Anyone who has ever experienced singing along to “Et jitt kei Wood” by Cat Ballou in a pub in Cologne knows what feeling I’m talking about.
Where can people meet you for a private Kölsch?
Gladly in all kinds of pubs, but also while walking through the city with a beer for the road! Here is a small selection of my favorite pubs in the city center sorted by neighborhoods:
- Old town: Kunstkaschämm and Jeck (in the Jeck there is only good Cologne music)
- Belgian Quarter: Joode Lade and Kölschbar
- Kwartier Latäng (Zülpicher Viertel): Kwartier, Black Sheep Pub (very cool mix of Cologne pub and Irish pub) and Piranha.
- Eigelstein: Lapidarium and Durst (if you’re into cool, really stripped-down pubs).
There are also some great pubs to discover in the other neighborhoods of Cologne. I’ll try to make some more posts about this.
Where should you definitely have eaten in Cologne?
Clearly, one must have eaten a Kotlett at the Lommerzheim in Deutz. Schnitzel at Oma Kleinmann’s is a must. My personal tip are the crêpes at Engelbät and Lisbät. The beer halls I take you to in the old town all have really good food, too, and I like to eat there privately, too.
What is a must-see in Cologne (besides the cathedral)?
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 McDonalds on the corner, and KölnTourismus. I promise you, you will not be disappointed!