Mainz’s brewery scene offers plenty to love

Mainz’s brewery scene offers plenty to love

by: Karen Bradbury | .
Stripes Europe | .
published: October 07, 2018
While Germany’s known for its beer, its states of Rhineland-Palatinate and Hesse aren’t exactly the country’s powerhouses when it comes to pumping out the stuff. That being said, the brewers who are based here aren’t necessarily any worse at their craft. With October in the air and fests on my mind, the time seemed right to explore the breweries close to my doorstep. While I’m no expert in the world of beer, I’m certainly a fan of it, and I found a lot to like at four breweries in and around Mainz I visited over the past few weeks. Since all the places I tried were brewpubs offering food, I’ve given my take on the beer, the meals, and the totality of the experience.
 
Rüsselsheimer Bräu
 
The vibe: A ten-minute walk through shopworn Russelsheim leads to the bank of the Main River, where this brewery makes its home on the ground floor of the designer mk hotel. A spacious terrace offers views of docked cruise ships, cyclists pedaling by, the occasional barge and jets heading in for a landing at nearby Frankfurt Airport. With no major road running past it, it’s a quiet place, save for the hum of distant machinery. Inside, the brewery is a palette of grays, greens and browns, straight lines, wood, metal and three gleaming copper brew kettles. Animal skins on the seats add a cozy touch. Full-length glass windows allow light to filter in even on the gloomy days of winter. An aroma of sweet meadow grasses fills the air.  The brewery’s logo, a simple outline of a man on horseback, is inspired by a statue visible from the terrace.
 
The beer: My four flights included a light, a wheat, a dark and a stout. For me, the light was the standout. The stout was like a mild Guinness and paired nicely with the meal.
 
The food: From the lunch menu I chose Serviettenknoedel, crispy sliced dumplings served in a silky Pfifferlinge mushroom sauce and charred broccoli. At 6.50 euros, it was a gourmet treat and a bargain too.
 
Mainstraße 4-6, 65428, Rüsselsheim am Main, www.ruesselsheimer-braeu.de
 
Brauhaus Castel
 
The vibe: Even looking in on it from the street, the place fairly shouts “Bavaria” with its striped blue and white poles and mural-bedecked façade. The blonde wood and rustic décor of the interior carries on the theme, and by the time you reach the beer garden, a walled-in oasis of folding chairs and wooden benches, colorful potted plants, and sunflowers towering ten feet tall, the Alps feel closer than Mainz’s suburban sprawl.
 
The beer: My three flights of house brews were a light, a dark and a wheat. Perfect pours with two fingers of foamy head, symmetrical and precise, spoke of the barman’s respect for his product. The light had a freshness that made me think of the color green and the dark the caramel notes of grains toasted to perfection. Wheat beer isn’t usually my thing, but this one, with its characteristic banana notes, just the right degree of sweetness, and a slight effervescence of the tip of the tongue, won me over completely.
 
The food: For dinner, I chose one of the daily specials, red cabbage, mashed potatoes and a roasted Handkaesebratwurst, the most juicy and flavorful sausage one could ever hope to eat.
 
Otto-Suhr-Ring 27, 55252 Wiesbaden, www.brauhaus-castel.de
 
Eisgrub
 
The vibe: This brewery hasn’t been around as long as its labyrinth of rooms with vaulted cellars might suggest: it’s been home there only since 1989. Nevertheless, it’s a Mainz institution in its own right. It’s located along a busy street in a neighborhood straddling old and modern parts of the city. A tiny terrace allows a couple dozen patrons to drink and dine outdoors, albeit in the face of traffic. The interior décor, a few framed prints and relics on shelves, gives few hints of a regional identity. Copper brew kettles take up most of the space of one of the two front rooms.   
 
The beer: The process of ordering a brew here is black and white—literally, as the choice here is between either a Helles Märzen or a Schwarzbier. Although I was told that a seasonal or special beer does occasionally make its way onto the menu, on the day of my visit, there were only the two. Although they were both delicious, the dark, with its highly toasted flavor, came out slightly on top to my taste.
 
The food: The lunch menu offered a choice of some ten dishes, all priced at around six euros. The schnitzel I ordered, lacking greens or garnish, looked a little plain and monochromatic, but tasted fine.
 
Weißliliengasse 1A, 55116 Mainz, www.eisgrub.de
 
KUEHN KUNZ ROSEN Brauerei
 
The vibe: This brewery, wedged between train tracks and a busy highway, is in a part of Mainz you’d not stumble upon accidentally. For those in the know, however, it’s only a ten-minute walk from the Old Town. Opened in March of 2018, it’s one of newest additions to the area’s brew scene. Once at the address, a courtyard surrounded by low-lying buildings, it’s not immediately clear where to go. (Head straight and take the metal staircase up into the building with the fancy brickwork trim.)
 
Inside the refurbished factory, there’s an impressive sprawl of brewing equipment to the right and a small seating area to the left. Bench-style seating offers room for around 55 guests, and the kitchen is open to public view. A high ceiling lends the limited area a feeling of space.
 
The beer: Ordering a flight of four beers here meant having to narrow it down from the brewery’s choice of eight beers on tap. My choices were a regular Pils, which tasted like many U.S. craft beers I’ve sampled in my time. Number two, a Kerlig Hell, tasted of lime, grain and an unidentified funkiness. The third, a Belgian white, at first tasted like a German wheat but gradually warmed and opened up to the style’s coriander and orange taste. The fourth, an Oriental wheat, reminded me of a Gueze combined with allspice. I also ordered a stout, slightly milky and with a chalkiness I associated with cocoa baking powder.  
 
Although the restaurant was about 90% full and dinner service was in full swing, two of the four English-speaking staff made it a point to ask me what I thought about every single beer in my flight. I left the premises thinking this particular brewery visit was the closest thing I’ve had to the experience of sampling at craft beer breweries in the U.S.A.
 
Weisenauer Strasse 15, 55131 Mainz, http://kuehnkunzrosen.de
 
Mainz’s world of brewing isn’t big; nevertheless, there’s much to like about it. Brewers that adhere to tradition, those that challenge the status quo, venues oozing coziness and casual style, and ample quantities of tasty fare. 

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Tags: beer, breweries, brewery, Germany, Mainz
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