Apple wine - a speciality of Frankfurt

The 2018 Apfelweinfest, Frankfurt

The 2018 Apfelweinfest is being hosted on Roßmarkt, in Frankfurt, until August 19th. If you are coming to Frankfurt then you should definitely try a glass or two of this beverage famed as the local drink of Hessen and commonly called Äppler. The name however is misleading being more like a cider than a wine with an average alcohol content of 4%. Also be aware it has a sour flavour which is why you often see the locals ordering a bottle of sparkling water, along side their bembel (jug) of apple wine, which they use to top up the drink and soften the sourness.

How to order your apple wine

When ordering by the glass,  apple wine 'pur' means it is pure apple wine. If you want your glass topped with a little water, then order an apple wine 'sauer' and if you need a little sweetness, then order an apple wine 'suss', in this case the glass is topped with a little lemonade.

Bembels (jugs) of apple wine always come 'pur' and you order by the number of glasses. E.g if you are with a group of 6 friends you might order a '6er' bembel which holds six glasses of apple wine. Don't forget to order a bottle of sparkling water for those in your group who want to soften down the flavour. Better still go to Kelterei Heil, a known and respected brand in Frankfurt, and they'll include a bottle of water with your bembel.

Kelterei Heil offering a 6er Bembel and bottle of water for 12€

Kelterei Heil offering a 6er Bembel and bottle of water for 12€

One joy of the Apfelweinfest is trying apple wine from a variety of producers. Each brand has it's own flavour. Some producers offer unfilterred apple wine which is cloudy and labelled 'naturtrüb' whilst the more regular applewine is clear. Two producers offering naturtrüb at this years festival are Hofmann's and Trageser. My favourite regular apple wines offering a fresh taste are by Nöll, Walther and Stier This year Nöll, Walther and Stier have their stalls side by side, so not too far to wander to sample from all three!  Rosé apple wine is another variety worth a try and has a less sour taste. Nöll offer an Apfel-Secco which is milder and naturally sweet. 
 

Apple wine is always served in a 'gerippte' glass. The pretty diamond shape etching serves a practical purpose - it's to stop the glass from slipping through your greasy fingers, which is a very likely peril after a bratwurst or two. This year the Apfelweinfest is hosting a variety of foods, including vegetarian and vegan, fish and chips, traditional green sauce and the ever present Schwenkgrill (swinging grill over an open fire) for the meat eaters. 

If you've missed the festival but still want to try apple wine, try visiting one of the famous apple wine taverns in Sachsenhausen - a few of my favourites are on my web page, click on the link and scroll down to Applewine taverns in Sachsenhausen to see a list.

A traditional 'Gerippte' glass containing a sample of Hofmann's naturtrüb Äppler - Zum Wohl!

A traditional 'Gerippte' glass containing a sample of Hofmann's naturtrüb Äppler - Zum Wohl!

Walking around old Sachsenhausen (Alt Sachsenhausen)

Old Sachsenhausen, south of the river, is a unique part of Frankfurt. Today the area comes alive at night, crammed as it is with bars, clubs and apple wine taverns but take a closer look and you will notice traditional cobbled streets, gas lamps and old medieval houses.

Große Rittergasse, Sachsenhausen in Frankfurt

Große Rittergasse, Sachsenhausen in Frankfurt

First mentioned in a document back in the 12th century, old Sachsenhausen became the place where the fishermen, weavers, and the other poorer classes lived. The area survived the devastation of the second war and today offers a glimpse into the Frankfurt of old.

The easiest way to get to old Sachsenhausen is to walk cross the Alte Brücke (notes on other routes are at the bottom of this page). Once on the south side of the river, look in the direction of 10 o'clock and you'll see a side street (Große Rittergasse) running behind the youth hostel. Follow the side street and you'll suddenly find yourself standing next to the Kuhhirtenturm,  the cowherds tower. Today it serves as a museum dedicated to the composer Hindemith, who converted the tower into accommodation and whose family lived here from 1923 until 1943. Only open on Sundays, it a great little museum offering information in English and German. The link above offers more details. 

Kuhhirtenturm, now a museum to the composer Hindemith, open on Sundays.

Kuhhirtenturm, now a museum to the composer Hindemith, open on Sundays.

Wander along Große Rittergasse. Many of the bars and building you see are old timber frame houses but the facades were covered over in a post war attempt to modernise the rickety old buildings. At the junction of Frankensteiner Straße stands one of many traditional water fountains you can find around old Sachsenhausen. These pink sandstone pillars, decorated on top with statues of people, animals and, in one case, even an artichoke were meticulously restored by Georg Krämer in the 1950/60s. Every year since 1490 the local folk of Sachsenhausen host a fest (during the 3rd weekend in August) to celebrate the fountains and their vital source of water.

If you are in the mood for a coffee stop by the Libertine cafe which offers home-made cakes in the afternoon. It also offers breakfast and in the evening the cafe becomes a trendy bar!

Next, wander up the cobbled lane of Kleine Rittergasse. If you're here in the evening stop by the street lamps and take a close look. Many of these old lamps are still lit by gas, if you're not sure whether it's a genuine old lamp or not, have a listen and you'll hear the gentle hiss of gas. Near the top of Kleine Rittergasse, turn left into what looks like a dead end. Ahead of you is the back entrance to "Lorsbacher Thal" one of the traditional apple wine taverns, with a good reputation too. An idea place to stop and enjoy traditional fare such as Handkäse, grüne Söße and of course, apple wine.

Never heard of apple wine? More information is available on my apple wine blog post, but back the business of old Sachsenhausen...

From the back entrance of the Lorsbach Thal, you can turn the corner and head left onto Klappergasse. More old houses and gas lamps, but this lane is particularly famous for it's statue dedicated to Frau Rauscher, who spits water at unsuspecting passers-by. She was a local character, known for drinking a little too much apple wine and even has a poem dedicated to her antics, this English version isn't a direct translation but works well as a rhyme: Mrs Rauscher’s been found with a bump on her head. Whether from apple wine or her old man, at least she ain’t dead.

Next to the statue stands the Frau Rauscher Apfelweinlokal, which is another good place to stop and have a traditional meal if you're hungry. A little further down the street is an unassuming door at number 3, but it's a great little jazz club, Summa Summarum.  Once you walk through the door you descend the stairs into a deep cellar dating back to at least the 17th century. The club isn't always open so check the link to see if any acts are playing during your visit.

Summa Summarum, a great little live band venue and jazz club deep in the cellar of this old 17th century building

Summa Summarum, a great little live band venue and jazz club deep in the cellar of this old 17th century building

Wander back on yourself up Klappergasse and keep your eyes open for brass apples in the cobble stones which are a nod to the apple wine heritage of the area. At the end of the street join Kleine Rittergasse and walk towards Paradiesgasse. Turn left and in 30 metres turn left again for more apple wine taverns including,  Dauth Schneider, with it's tree growing through the roof, and Klaane Sachsenhäuser with it's lovely courtyard. Alternatively, turn right and cross over the road into Wallstraße for the opportunity to explore more of Sachsenhausen as detailed in my other blog post, Konstablerwache to Sachsenhausen.

Brass apple depicting the trail through old sachsenhausen

Brass apple depicting the trail through old sachsenhausen

Map and directions

Old Sachsenhausen - Google My Maps.png

Alt Sachsenhausen

A larger map detailing highlights of this blog is linked here. To get to old Sachsenhausen using public transport, take tram number 14 or 18 and alight at Frankensteiner Platz, or take the S-bahn or U-bahn to Südbahnhof and exit via Diesterwegplatz.

If you are in the area, don't forget the flea market, held every fortnight on a Saturday along the Museumsufer. Click on this link and scroll down to Weekly markets entry for up to date information.

The Museumsufer, which runs along the south bank of the river Main, offers plenty of museums to visit. This museums link will tell you more.

Frankfurt day trips - Lohrberg by bus or bike

Lohrberg is 7km north east from Frankfurt city centre and is accessible by bus, car or bike (travel details are at the end of this post). It offers one of the best views of the Frankfurt skyline but that's not it's only attraction, Lohrberg is also renown for it's vineyard and orchard. With two cafes offering local food and refreshment lots of Frankfurters head up to Lohrberg to enjoy a relaxing day and be at one with nature. It's free to wander around the orchard which is maintained and cultivated in harmony with the local wildlife. While you wander around you are certain to stumble across chickens, bee-hives and small garden plots offering information about how different habitats benefit different animal species.

View of Frankfurt skyline from Lohrberg (Photo copyright © by Anne Noble)

View of Frankfurt skyline from Lohrberg (Photo copyright © by Anne Noble)

Having enjoyed the orchard, take time to relax with other visitors (many arriving on their bikes) at MainÄppelHaus, a small cafe selling apple juice produced from the orchard's apples. This Sunday, 18th September 2016, the MainÄppelHaus is hosting an Äpplerfest offering fun for all ages. If you have more of an appetite, head over to the Lohrberg-Schänke for a plate of traditional Frankfurt food and take in the skyline view while you eat.

Orchard at the MainÄppelHaus, Lohrberg (Photo copyright © by Anne Noble)

Orchard at the MainÄppelHaus, Lohrberg (Photo copyright © by Anne Noble)

After Lohrberg head into Bad Vilbel, a town renown for it's mineral water. It's local Hassia brand appears on many a restaurant table across Germany. The Kurpark has lots of interesting features to explore and has a map to download listing the key sites to visit. In addition there is the Milano ice-cream parlour, to be found at Niddapl. 1, 61118 Bad Vilbel

Only a couple of kilometres further on from Bad Vilbel is Dottenfelderhof, a small organic farm open from Monday to Saturday. At the farm you can visit cows, pigs and chickens and afterwards relax for coffee and home-made cake at their cafe. On-site is a small shop, full of organic produce and, depending on the time of year, you might be lucky to "pick-your-own" flowers from one of the nearby meadows.

Piglets at the Dottenfelderhof, near Frankfurt (Photo copyright © by Anne Noble)

Piglets at the Dottenfelderhof, near Frankfurt (Photo copyright © by Anne Noble)

Getting there

Cyclists from Frankfurt can enjoy a lovely cycle heading out to Lohrberg and Bad Vibel by following the Nidda river from Frankfurt in an easterly direction. The river meanders through gentle country side and a special highlight on the way is the Tower Cafe at the old Bonames airfield.

By public transport, take bus 30 to the bus stop Heiligenstock, or bus 43 to the bus stop Budge-Heim and a short walk will bring you to Lohrberg. Both journeys are included in the Frankfurt travel zone. Be aware however, that Bad Vilbel is out the travel zone and a supplement will need to be paid. 

There is a car park at Lohrberg with plenty of spaces on Friedrich-Heyer Weg.