I've been in Wiesbaden a number of times over the past several years on short vacations visiting in-laws, so when I was there this August after visiting Adeptus in Münster I decided it was high time I put forward an article for the ICB travel section. Especially since some of you may have heard of Wiesbaden recently with the Irish soccer team playing Georgia in the neighbouring city of Mainz.
Wiesbaden is a Spa town, or rather a city, with a population of over 300,000 people. Wiesbaden is the capital of the federal state of Hesse. The city sits on the northern banks of the River Rhine 30km west of Frankfurt International Airport and is in the heart of the Rheingau (Rhine district) which is famous for Rhinegau wines. Wiesbaden is a very nice place to visit if you are in the Frankfurt area or if you want a good base from which to explore the Rheingau valley that stretches from Wiesbaden to the town of Rüdesheim. The city of Wiesbaden has been famous for its thermal springs and spas since Roman times so if you are a bit worse for wear from too much beer or wine then you will have plenty of options for rest and recuperation.
Places to visit for good Beer:
Wiesbaden is no mecca for beer by any means but a fair selection of German beers can be had if you go to the right places and most of the bars and restaurants in the city will serve pils and wiessbier of some description.
The König von Bayern Ratskeller under the City hall in the Schloßplatz (palace square) in the center of Wiesbaden is a great place for a good selection of beer from the König Ludwig range and good food from the Bavarian region.
Among the beers available here are;
- König Ludwig Dunkel
- König Ludwig Weissbier
- König Ludwig Weissbier Dunkel
- Kaltenberg Ritterbock
- Kaltenberg Hellssbier
- Kaltenberg Pils
My personal favourite among these is the König Ludwig Dunkel. It’s an easy drinking dark beer ideal for a few pints on a summer afternoon or a session in the evening. If you do get to the Ratskeller in Wiesbaden, or you can get it elsewhere, you must try the Kaltenberg Ritterbock. This is a strong dark bock beer weighing in at 9% with a syrupy rich roasted taste like treacle.
The Ratskeller is only accessible via a separate side entrance to the city hall and during the summer months they have tables and chairs outside in the Schloßplatz where you can enjoy a beer and food in the sun too. The Schloßplatz is also host to a farmers' market which has a nice busy atmosphere on a Saturday.
Another place worth a stop is Beck's am Bäckerbrunnen. This is a small bar in the Altstadt (old town) on Grabenstrasse beside the Bakers fountain. The Altstadt is mostly pedestrianised and is made up of narrow cobbled streets with shops, bars and restaurants. This popular bar is dark and cosy inside and also has nice tables and chairs outside around the Bakers fountain. The bar has a small selection of beer with a large menu of typical German pub grub. Among the beers available are Diebals Alt and Gaffel Kölsch. The Kölsch is a pretty standard pale, crisp beer with a light hop finish while the Diebals Alt is a light brown colour with malty, roasty and caramel flavours.
Venturing further, about twenty minutes walk from the town centre is Neroberg. The Neroberg is a hillside estate which overlooks the whole of Wiesbaden. This area is a popular place to come and get a good view of the city, explore the woodlands, test yourself on the forest climbing course or go to the open-air baths. Neroberg is reached by boarding a funicular railway at the base of the hill which is at the top of the Nerotal park. The railway takes only five minutes to climb the hill and runs along side the small Nerotal Vineyard.
The Neroberg Tower
The Neroberg Tower is part of the cafe on the edge of the woods on the top of Neroburg hills. Most of the cafe is outside with a large seating area beside an open-air amphitheatre and the Neroberg temple. This unlikely location for good beer actually has a fairly decent range available. I've been here a good few times and very nice if the weather's good. Among the beers available here are the following:
- Henninger Radler
- Binding Römer Pilsener
- Schöfferhofer Hefe-Weizen
- Schöfferhofer Kristall-Weizen
- Schöfferhofer Grapefruit
- Clausthaler Extra Herb
- Jever lime
You'll notice from this list that the Schöfferhofer brand is a recurring theme. Well it’s no coincidence either that Römer Pilsener or the Clausthaler Extra Herb are on the same list too, as they are all made by the Binding brewery based in Frankfurt and all the beers on the list are owned by the Radeberger Gruppe. Binding beers are fairly common in the region and the brewery sponsors some of the stalls at the summer festivals in Wiesbaden and in the small towns along the Rhine. The Schöfferhofer Grapefruit is a new one for me and I tried it for the first time this year. I have to say I was surprised how nice it was. It’s a mix of hefe-weizen and grapefruit juice giving a rather refreshing shandy style drink with 2% ABV. The Germans are very fond of their ‘mix’ style drinks, there’s the ever popular weizen and cola and a myriad of other mixes available in the supermarket shelves.
Here ends my review I leave the rest for you to explore.
Don't worry if you don't speak any German as Wiesbaden has a large US Army base so most of the population are used to English speakers, and bars and restaurants usually have english menus if you ask for one.
If you or your significant other is interested in shopping then Wiesbaden has plenty to offer on that front too. The shopping zone is fully pedestrianised and consists of all the usual high street shops and German Department stores. For more up market tastes Wilhelmstrasse has a lot of expensive designer boutiques.