I don’t get many opportunities to get out of the office in the course of my job as Laboratory Manager for a company which manufactures dental products, and when I do it’s usually to attend a course or visit one of our critical suppliers. I was therefore quite pleased the week before last when the boss called me into his office and asked if I would like to go to Cologne, to help man our exhibition stand at the world’s largest dental show.
IDS, or the International Dental Show, takes place every two years, and occupies a number of exhibition halls in Cologne’s massive showground, on the east bank of the River Rhine. My company has exhibited there over the course of the past two decades, and I attended three shows, back in my early days with the company. The policy over the years has been to rotate staff, so that all managers and supervisors get to experience this massive trade show, and to learn what’s new in the world of dentistry.
Obviously there is a core number of essential staff from sales and research & development who attend every show, but a couple of weeks ago, our R&D manager handed in his notice; having found himself a more lucrative role closer to home. Looking for an experienced member of staff to step into the breach, the boss turned to me, and asked if I could cover the whole week.
I of course said yes, and whilst it can get a little tedious being on the stand from 9am to 6pm, there is plenty of opportunity for socialising in the evenings. Our parent company, who are based in Japan, will be sending a contingent over, and we will also be meeting with colleagues from the group’s European sales division, who are based just outside nearby Düsseldorf.
There will also be ample opportunity to enjoy a few “Stanges”; the 20cl glasses which local beer-style, Kölsch is normally served in. Strangely enough I wrote about an English take on Kölsch in my last post, about Truman’s RAW; the company’s new “tank beer”.
Now I’m a little rusty on my Kölsches, particularly as a number of the better known brands are all produced by a group called the Kölner Verbund Bauereien. This group is in turn owned by the Oetker Group; an organisation which started out making baking products, but has now branched into branded food products (pizza anyone?), and also brewing under the auspices of the Radeberger Brewing Group.
If time allows I would like to re-visit Päffgen, who are Cologne’s smallest Kölsch brewery, supplying their beer to just two outlets; one of which is the pub in front of the brewery. I last visited Päffgen in 2009, and before that in 1975 when I stopped over in the city during my Interrail trip, which I wrote about recently.
Päffgen is a very traditional brewery, and the beer is still supplied in and served out of wooden casks. It is also hoppier than many of the more mainstream Kölsches. The pub is also pretty basic, and doesn’t seem to have changed much over the past three decades.
It would be good to re-visit Päffgen, but as I said above, only if time allows, and looking at our itinerary, we have a pretty packed schedule of meetings both during the show, and in a couple of the evenings. However, I won’t be too disappointed if I don’t make it to this historic brew-pub, as I will be back in Cologne, albeit briefly, in May, when my son and I will be joining a group of CAMRA members from Maidstone, on a four day excursion to Düsseldorf. Our stay in the Rhineland area includes a day in Cologne, and I’m pretty certain the group will want to visit Päffgen.
Unlike previous visits to IDS, when people either drove, or flew to Cologne, this year we will be travelling by train; taking advantage of the fast cross-border trains which link Brussels to Cologne. With fast Eurostar connections from Ebbsfleet to the Belgian capital, this should be a more relaxing way to travel.
I will let you know whether or not this is the case when I get back, and will also report on any bars or beers of interest I come across.