What defines an enjoyable time in Cologne? According to locals, it's all about "Drei Ahle un 'ne Kölsch," which translates to "Three old friends and a Kölsch."
So if you want to know the best breweries where you can taste freshly-made Kölsch, I've crafted an insider's guide on the best Cologne Brewery tours, sparing you the research. This guide draws from my personal experiences and insights gathered from fellow locals, all passionate about our favorite "brauhaus" or brewery.
Get ready; there’s no better way to experience Kölsch culture than with this handy guide!
Top Brauhaus Tour Koln
#1 TOP PICK
Brewery Tour with Three "Kölsch" Tastings
Guided Brewhouse Walking Tour in Cologne
Brewery Tour with Beer Tasting and Halven Hahn
1. Brewery Tour with Three "Kölsch" Tastings
Earning top spot on our list, we love this brewery tour for how authentic it is. Don't expect a formal, structured trip. A bit like a pub crawl, they will take you to the best brewhouses and, just like a local, you'll have to find your own seats and order your Kölsch!
Thanks to our hilarious guide, we learned the quirky ways to ordering and drinking Kölsch in Köln, as well as brewing traditions that make Kölsch a national gem.
Another highlight is the chance to visit both traditional and new breweries. For example, we went to Brauhaus Sion, which has been around for a long time, and also checked out newer places like Früh am Dom.
The pricing is very affordable for a wholesome two-hour guided tour peppered generously with anecdotes and fun facts.
And it isn't solely about indulging in three different varieties of Kölsch beers. It's also about having front-row seats to Cologne's charming brauhaus traditions and rituals!
For example, are you aware that Kölsch will keep coming to your table until you either cover your glass with a coaster, or find yourself under the table?
Whether you're a laid-back tourist or a passionate beer enthusiast, this tour in Cologne promises an exciting evening for all!
- Glimpse into Kölsch beer & brewhouse culture unique to the region
- Drinking Kölsch!
- Free cancellation up to 24 hours in advance for a full refund
- Reserve now & pay later: Keep your travel plans flexible
- Live tour guide available in German, English
- Limited availability, may be difficult to secure a spot on the tour
- Does not actually include a tour of the beer-making process, which according to reviewers is a disappointment
- Peak hours may make it challenging to get a seat at the brewery
2. Guided Brewhouse Walking Tour in Cologne
If you're short on time during your visit to Cologne and have just one evening to explore four of the city's finest Kölsch breweries, all highly recommended by locals, then this tour is tailor-made for you.
You'll get to experience both traditional breweries (that have been around for centuries) and newer breweries. It's a great way to enjoy the history and culture of Cologne while savoring delicious Kölsch beer. Mind you, these pubs brew their own Kölsch beer, and we could taste the difference!
We had some standout moments during the tour, including our visits to Brauerei zur Malzmühle, a charming 150-year-old family brewery with a nostalgic atmosphere. And Brauhaus Sünner im Walfisch, set within a historic 1600s beer hall, offering an authentic Brauhaus experience.
However, the true high point at each brewery was learning about the unique drinking customs here. We were captivated by the guide's infectious enthusiasm for Cologne's beer culture, and could see why many locals refuse to drink anything other than Kölsch beer!
"We as a family had a great time! Highly recommend. The 2 hours went by fast. We hung around and had more beers afterwards."
- Robert (see more reviews)
Note that there’s only room for 15 participants per group which ensures personalized attention from the guide—an added bonus.
So if you’re headed to Germany soon—or even if you live there—I wholeheartedly recommend the Guided Brewhouse Walking Tour in Cologne!
- Explore 4 top-rated breweries in Cologne and taste each of their beers!
- Highly-raved for guides who are well-versed in Cologne history, brewing traditions and Kölsch culture.
- The tour is available in German, English, Spanish, ensuring that all visitors can fully enjoy the experience.
- The meeting point is centrally located and easily accessible by public transportation.
- Limited variety of beer styles, as the tour focuses exclusively on kölsch
- Potential for overcrowding and difficulty in finding seating at each brewhouse
- Visiting four breweries within 2 hours may leave less time for each stop, not suited for those who prefer a more relaxed experience
3. Brewery Tour with Beer Tasting and Halven Hahn
For a true blue Kölsch tasting experience, a Halve Hahn is a must! This classic Cologne pub snack consists of a slice of rye bread (usually a Roggenbrötchen) that's topped with Gouda cheese, and seasoned with a onions, butter, mustard, and paprika.
The flavors of cheese and butter complement the crisp taste of Kölsch - making them a popular pairing!
That's why "Brewery Tour with Beer Tasting and Halven Hahn" is third on our list. You'll visit four breweries and taste their fresh Kölsch beer, and sample a traditional Halve Hahn – completing your authentic Kölsch tasting tour!
But what really entertained us most on this tour was our guide, a cheeky and funny fellow. He delighted all of us with captivating tales about the breweries, Cologne lifestyle, and amusing anecdotes about the different "versions" of Kölsch. Time really flew by thanks to him!
And the price for this is a steal. Unlike many brewery tours that require you to pay for your own food and drinks, your tour price includes the cost of all four glasses of Kölsch and Halven Hahn. Super value for money!
"Harry led us through the old town with wit and charm and inspired us with all sorts of insider knowledge about Cologne's Kölsch culture. We couldn't have spent our afternoon better. Thank you!"
- Aylin (see more reviews)
- Visit 4 different breweries
- Tour price includes 1 Kölsch (or soft drink) per brewery
- Learn interesting anecdotes about Cologne's history in a lighthearted and humorous manner
- Indulge in the delicious traditional "Halve Hahn" sandwich at one of the breweries
- Tour is only available in German.
- Visiting four breweries within 2 hours may leave less time for each stop, not suited for those who prefer a more relaxed experience
- Limited availability of tour dates and times
4. Guided Walking Tour to 3 Old Town Breweries
If you want to combine a brewery tour with an exploration of the city, look no further. This combined city tour takes you around Cologne's picturesque Old Town, while indulging in the famous Kölsch beer at three traditional breweries.
If you're lucky, you'll get our tour guide Markus! He's not only entertaining but also incredibly knowledgeable and enthusiastic about Cologne.
Thanks to him, our tour of the city and its breweries became an unforgettable experience. It was clear the brewery owners were familiar with him, and they gave us a warm welcome.
"Very good, a great, competent, funny tour guide Markus. A lot of interesting things given for the best!!!!! Would book him again, I can only recommend."
- Ute (see more reviews)
For the price, I'd say this is one of the most value-for-money options. The tour price includes the cost of the tour guide plus three glasses of Kölsch beer - super affordable if you consider that most brewery tours require you to pay for your own beer.
Note that party goers are not allowed; ensuring a peaceful atmosphere where every participant can truly enjoy their time on this guided walking tour.
Not surprisingly, this is a highly popular option (rated 4.9/5 stars) and often sold out. So book early - free cancellation is available up to 24 hours ahead!
- Learn about authentic brewing traditions and Cologne's beer culture
- Visit 3 historic breweries and taste their famous Kölsch beer
- Highly rated tour (4.9 out of 5 stars)
- Explore the charming Old Town of Cologne and see iconic landmarks along the way
- Highly popular and spots are easily sold out.
- Only available in German
- Potential for crowded and busy tour, especially during peak tourist season
5. Belgian Quarter and Kiosk Tour with 2 Kölsch
Germans have a deep affection for their kiosks, affectionately known as 'Büdchen', which are small, neighborhood convenience stores that have become cultural treasures. And there are several located in the quirky Belgian Quarter, which is where this eclectic tour takes place.
This enclave is known for its vibrant street art, fashion stores, vintage shops, and quirky stores selling everything from antiques to vinyl records.
Throughout our two-hour guided walking tour, we stopped at a few iconic Büdchen corner kiosks. As we savored traditional Kölsch beer, our guide described the the importance of these unassuming kiosks to everyday German life.
We also saw the iconic 13th century Hahnentor, wandered into shops along Brüsseler Platz, and admired the street art on Aachener Street. Unlike some city tours, we didn't feel rushed during the tour, and had sufficient time for photos and chatting with our guide and locals.
Overall, if you're looking for an alternative tour that combines art, culture, Kölsch beer, and community, this is the one for you!
- Off-beat guided tour of Cologne's Belgian Quarter is something different from the usual tours
- Experience the joy of 'kiosk hopping' and discovering the subtle differences in their offerings.
- Enjoy 2 Kölsch beers, a traditional beer of Cologne, included in the tour price
- Chance to sample local snacks, from traditional German snacks to Cologne specialties.
- Efficient tour duration of 2 hours is just right
- Tour is only available in German
- There's no pick-up or drop-off service
6. Old Town Walking Tour with Brewery and Kölsch Beer
This two-hour tour is perfect for history buffs interested in Cologne's rich past, including a taste of the city's signature Kölsch beer at a traditional brewery!
Our guide was fantastically engaging, providing historical insights about Cologne while showing us around the beautiful corners of the Old Town. Filled with shops, cafes, and breweries — this part of the town gives a true glimpse into local life.
The highlight of the trip is visiting one of Cologne's traditional breweries where you'll get to savor Kölsch beer - a real local specialty!
Here, you'll meet the infamous 'Köbes' - servers known for their traditional brusque and cheeky demeanor. You'll soon realize that their gruffness is all part of the Köln charm!
This walking tour offers great value for money considering it includes an expert guide and 1 Kölsch beer, as well as access to some truly unique locations within Cologne's old town.
Do remember comfortable shoes though because the cobblestone alleys take no prisoners!
- Exploration of Old Town's charming alleyways and establishments
- Includes a visit to a brewery and a taste of kölsch beer.
- Free cancellation up to 24 hours in advance for a full refund.
- Reserve now & pay later option available.
- Inclusions: Old Town walking tour, guide, one kölsch, food.
- Limited accessibility for wheelchair users
- Only available in German language
- Requires participants to have comfortable shoes
7. Pub Crawl Cologne Including Admission Fee for Bars and Shots
Now, this isn't technically a brewery tour but a bar crawl. However, we included it because it's still a part of Cologne's night scene, and their clubs are legendary!
On this tour, participants enjoy up to four free shots, and complimentary admission to some of the most popular bars and pubs in Cologne.
In fact, you're guaranteed a night filled with fun, dancing, and delightful company!
If you're new to Cologne, it's also an excellent opportunity to socialize with folks from all parts of the world.
One exciting feature about this pub crawl is it brings you to unique underground locations unknown even to locals.
To add more sweetness to the deal, you don't pay if it's your birthday!
Definitely recommended for anyone looking for an authentic taste or should I say 'shot' -of Cologne's bar scene!
- Free admission to top bars and pubs
- Up to four complimentary shots (one at each "stop")
- Fun opportunity to meet and connect with people from around the world!
- Discover hidden local clubs and bars
- Led by an entertaining guide who speaks either English, German or both
- Central meeting point: The starting point at Club Goldfinger on Friesenstrasse provides easy access for participants.
- Experience might be a hit or miss depending on participants that day (chemistry is everything!)
- May not suit individuals who prefer a more low-key or quiet evening
What to Expect on a Brewery Tour
On a brewery tour, you'll get the opportunity to participate in beer tasting, an experience that will take your appreciation for this beverage to another level.
You can savor varied samples of Kölsch beers, each having its distinct character and flavor profile.
There's even a chance to try all three beer samples on one tour! Here at the Brewery Tour with Three "Kölsch" Tastings, beer tastings are conducted professionally with each sip delivering loads of information about the city's rich beer brewing history.
You might discover unusual flavors you love or learn how subtle changes in ingredients or brewing process can dramatically alter a brew’s taste.
My personal favorite is the Guided Brewhouse Walking Tour in Cologne - it offers an exceptional blend of tasting and learning experiences that leave no stone unturned for any craft-beer enthusiasts visiting Cologne!
Brewery history and process
Cologne proudly boasts a brewing heritage that dates back centuries. The city had a thriving brewery scene as early as the 1300s, with at least six monastery breweries in operation. 
Fast forward to 1396 and we see the Guild of Brewers shaping up, standing as the oldest trade organization in this vibrant city. 
Your guide will shed light on how Kölsch brewing techniques vary from one brewery to another within the city. Each brewer may have their own twist on tradition, resulting in subtle differences in flavor and character.
You'll learn what makes Kölsch distinct in the world of beer - from the unique process of how this beer is crafted, to the choice of ingredients.
Local food pairings
As part of your brewery tour in Cologne, you may have the chance to enjoy delicious local food pairings.
Kölsch beer is often served with traditional German foods like bratwurst and Halve Hahn with nutty cheeses.
Some breweries even offer lighter desserts such as apricot cake as a pairing option for Kölsch beer.
Unique beer tasting experiences
During your brewery tour in Cologne, you can look forward to tasting a variety of beers. That's because there's about 25 different types, produced by over a dozen breweries scattered across the city!
Your tour will usually offer you the chance to sample different Kölsch beer styles, so you can compare the flavors and appreciate the craft behind them.
Each brewery puts its own twist on Kölsch, resulting in subtle but intriguing differences in taste.
Some may lean towards a crisper and more refreshing profile, while others might offer a slightly maltier or hoppier character.
Exploring these nuances can be lots of fun, especially for those who enjoy the art of beer tasting!
Tips for a Successful Brewery Tour
Make reservations in advance
As there are only 13 breweries in Cologne, demand for tour slots often exceed supply.
So it's important to make reservations in advance. By pre-booking your spot, you can guarantee availability and sometimes even secure a better deal!
Whether it's through prior reservation or making arrangements beforehand, confirming your spot ahead of time is essential.
This way, you won't have to worry about missing out on the experience and can focus on enjoying the unique beer tastings and learning about brewery history and processes.
So don't forget to reserve your spot early and get ready for an unforgettable brewery tour in Cologne.
For a successful brewery tour, it's important to dress comfortably. Brewery visits are generally laid-back and casual, so you'll want to wear clothes that allow you to move freely and enjoy the experience.
Choose casual dressing, like jeans or shorts, paired with a comfortable top.
Closed-toe shoes are recommended, as some breweries have safety guidelines that require them. For women, skip the heels and choose booties instead - they're trendy and still provide comfort while exploring the brewery.
Remember, the key is to be relaxed and ready to sip some delicious brews!
During a brewery tour in Cologne, it's important to pace yourself. With so many delicious beers to try and interesting facts to learn about, it can be easy to get carried away.
Be aware of how much alcohol you're drinking. Even though the individual servings may be small, and Kölsch tends to taste light, they can add up, especially if you're trying multiple varieties.
Anyway, by taking your time and enjoying each tasting, you'll be able to fully appreciate the flavors and experience of the different brews.
So take small sips, engage in conversations with fellow beer enthusiasts, and soak up the atmosphere of each brewery stop along the way.
Bring a designated driver or use public transportation
If you're planning to go on a brewery tour in Cologne, it's important to think about how you'll get around safely.
If you have a car, it's best to bring a designated driver who can abstain from drinking and ensure everyone gets home safely.
Another option is to use public transportation, which is convenient and reliable in Cologne. Plus, if you get the KolnCard, public transportation is free in Cologne!
So whether you have a friend willing to be the designated driver or you rely on the city's efficient public transport system, make sure you have a plan in place so that everyone can fully enjoy the experience without worrying about getting home safely afterwards.
Why Cologne is Known for its Breweries
Cologne has a long and proud tradition of brewing beer, dating back centuries. The city's history of brewing can be traced to the Middle Ages when monasteries and local breweries produced beer for both local consumption and trade.
And it's particularly famous for a unique beer style called Kölsch.
This is a top-fermented, pale, and clear beer with a crisp, clean taste. It's served in small, cylindrical glasses and is known for its refreshing quality.
Locals are fiercely proud about their Kölsch. It has a protected status, which means that only beer brewed in and around Cologne can be called Kölsch.
This is partly why traditional breweries, known as "Brauhäuser" or brewpubs, play a significant role. These breweries often serve as gathering places for locals and tourists alike, offering not only beer but also traditional Cologne cuisine.
Brewing is not just a business in Cologne; it's part of the city's cultural identity and plays an important role in its heritage.
Conclusion: Top Cologne Brewery Tours
So, don't miss out on exploring the breweries in Cologne during your visit! Not only can you enjoy a range of beers, you'll also be taking part in a vibrant brewing culture that has been cherished for centuries.
You might also like: 11 Best Tours in Cologne, Germany
1. How long does a Cologne brewery tour typically last?
A Cologne brewery tour usually lasts around 1.5 - 2 hours, depending on the specific tour package and the number of breweries visited.
2. Can I sample different beers during a Cologne brewery tour?
Yes, most Cologne brewery tours include beer tastings where you can sample a variety of local brews produced by the breweries visited.
3. Are children allowed on Cologne brewery tours?
The policy regarding children on Cologne brewery tours may vary depending on the specific tour operator. It's best to check with them beforehand to see if they allow minors to participate.
4. Do I need to book in advance for a Cologne brewery tour?
It is highly recommended to book your spot in advance for a Cologne brewery tour as they can be popular and fill up quickly, especially during peak tourist seasons.
5. Are there any age restrictions for participating in a Cologne brewery tour?
In Germany, the legal drinking age for purchasing and consuming alcoholic beverages, including beer, is 16 for beer and wine, and 18 for spirits and liqueurs.
However, age restrictions can vary depending on the specific brewery and tour provider. Some brewery tours may only admit participants who are 18 years or older to ensure that all participants can legally sample alcoholic beverages.
It's essential to check the age restrictions and requirements of the specific brewery tour you plan to attend, as they may have their own policies in place. You should also be prepared to show identification, such as a passport or ID card, to verify your age if requested by the tour organizers.
1: Cologne & Düsseldorf: Kölsch & Altbiers - All About Beer, retrieved from https://allaboutbeer.net/article/cologne-dusseldorf-kolsch-altbiers/
2: Cologne Cathedral - UNESCO World Heritage Centre, retrieved from https://beerandbrewing.com/dictionary/M7s1M6ZdST/