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Everything you need to know about Äpfelwein

When Frankfurts local poet Friedrich Stoltze wrote down the words “Un es will mir net in den Kopp enei, wie kann nor a Mensch net von Frankfort sei!” („I just can’t understand, how a person can not be from Frankfurt!“), he should have added “and not know the applewine!”

A real Frankfurter knows his national drink: Applewine. And he loves it more than anything else. And of course he knows all the pubs and bars in and around Frankfurt. He has a favourite pub, where he feels at home, where he has his own regular place, and everybody knows that he can be found there.

Frankfurters have a heart of gold, so people from other places (so called “Eigeplackte”, “Messfremde” and “Zugelaafene”) are always welcome to have a seat at their table. Soon they will have a conversation, because Frankfurters like to talk a lot – or “babble” as they say here.

The discussion starts with “Ei gude wie – wo komme se denn her?” (Hello, where are you from?), you get closer, and after some drinks of applewine, you get to talk to each other, like to an old friend.

Applewine is said to be a refreshing drink, with not too much alcohol, that doesn’t make you tired, and has a positive influence on your vital system. It contains organic fruit acids, minerals, flavour, and at least 5% alcohol, which is the reason, that people like to drink that much of it.

The love for the “Stöffche”:

(That’s how Frankfurters call their applewine) even makes it a panacea for the soul and a regulative for the health. That’s what Emmerich Reeck says: “The Stöffche is good for everything, it cleans the stomach and loosens the mouth.” Former mayor Walter Kolb pointed out another effect of drinking too much, when he spoke from the balcony of the city hall “Römer”: “The applewine of Sachsenhausen is very special: it works its way to the head or to the pants.” Studies of well reputated scientists with 200 patients have shown, that applewine has a widening effect on vessels, improves the cerebral perfusion and decelerates the aging process. Now you know, why there are so many elderly but strong applewine drinkers. They are taking their medicine regularly every day.

In Frankfurt and its surroundings, applewine is known for more than 250 years. Its history, however, is much older. Germanic tribes have been brewing their “Ephiltranc”, greeks and romans cultivated it, and emperor Karl the Great told his subjects to produce it in his “Capitulare de villis”. Applewine was a homemade drink for everyone. The members of the city council and the wealthy citizens of the city used to drink their (grape-)wine, which was grown just outside the city walls. Pubs and inns used to serve (grape-)wine to their guests. Beer and spirits weren’t so important in these days. Only when viniculture decreased due to several wars, changing climate and bad harvests caused by vine pest, applewine gained importance. Now it was served in pubs and inns, and soon became the typical drink for the people of Frankfurt and Hessen. It was first served in semi professional, so called “Heckenwirtschaften”, but soon many concessionary also started serving it. Many gardeners started their own applewine-pubs. The long time homemade drink became a regular beverage with an official licence. Not many things have changed since then. And that’s how people like it. A guaranty for things to stay that way is the “Vereinigung der Äpfelweinwirte”, which was founded in 1919. Just one thing changed: The taste. Today, applewine drinkers prefer it aromatic and tangy, with fine fruit acids – especially since more and more women started to drink applewine. In the old times it was a privilege for men to go to the pubs. Women were only accepted to accompany their husbands on Sundays. But luckily times have changed. Women are going out on their own nowadays. In general you have a rustic meal with your applewine, but you can also have something roasted, grilled and even vegetarian dishes with it.

As a foreigner coming to Frankfurt, you shouldn’t miss to taste the original applewine in an original applewine-pub, which you can tell by the Bembel – the typical applewine-jug – in a chaplet. This is the symbol for the membership of the “Vereinigung der Äpfelweinwirte” (the Association of the innkeepers of applewine-pubs).The first sip might taste a little sour. But after a few more glasses form the “Bembel” you will sing along with the others praising the “Stöffche” in several songs. And if you are lucky, and our applewine-queen welcomes you in person, also you will say: "Frankfort beim Eppelwei, ach was biste so schee!" (Frankfurt and applewine – it’s just brilliant). May the applewine still be the light, inexpensive drink for everybody. Who ever has been drinking it as “Süßer” (must), “Neuer Heller” (new wine) or “Alter” (old wine), will never pass a pub with the bembel in the chaplet, without having a drink there. That’s how it was in the old days, and it will remain forever.

Source: Vereinigung der Äpfelweinwirte Frankfurt am Main und Umgebung e. V.



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