Zürich’s beer scene welcomes a new player: Grain. Over the past few years, the beer scene in Zürich has started to develop – though it is far from mature.
Original beer locales include the Brasserie Federal in Zürich’s Main Station, serving a broad range of traditional Swiss beers (mainly lagers). There is Andorra in the Niederdorf, offering many Belgian beers served in glassware from the breweries.
Then there is Eldorado with its selection of 101 different beers for which you will get a certificate once you have tried them all. And last but not least, Kaiser Franz in Zürich’s Kreis 4 which changes kegs every so often and is plastered with beer labels.
Near Sihlcity, we have Fork & Bottle, a comfortable American style restaurant that brought the idea of craft beer to Zürich. In 2014, the International Beer Bar opened in Kreis 5 with eight taps and a selection of some of Europe’s best craft beers. Shortly after in February 2015, the Erzbierschof opened his doors with over 20 taps and a great selection of beers from Switzerland and abroad.
So if you like beer, there are places to get it in Zürich. Apart from the Brasserie Federal and Fork & Bottle, though, none of these establishments are restaurants where you can get a meal. Welcome Grain to the scene.
Breaking fresh ground
Grain is located at Kirche Fluntern, signaling the end of tram line 5. Right in the middle of the tram turnaround, this is an ideal location in a part of town that does not already have a beer scene. With public transport so close, it is also ideally situated for anyone wanting to enjoy a few pints and then take the tram or bus home.
I was recently invited to try Grain and did not know what to expect. My only connection to the location was not from eating there, but from thinking: “Who would ever go here?”
These Canadians make for a perfect team.
I enter the restaurant with my friend Jochen, and we are immediately astonished at how spacious the place is. Grain has three distinct areas that have been nicely decorated to give them a comfortable and cozy feel while retaining the craft beer bar vibes.
After a welcome beer cocktail made with a Belgian Lambic style peach beer, the owners, Josh and David, show us their newly opened establishment. (I have never had anything like this beer cocktail, and it was good!)
Both Josh and David have Canadian roots and have been in Switzerland for over ten years. The two happened upon each other like most expats do: At a local pub. Josh is a trained chef and David is a beer sommelier. With their backgrounds, they make for a perfect team to run Grain.
Grain is setting new standards.
The huge kitchen is equipped with the most modern equipment for preparing haute cuisine. That’s because Grain is not your typical burger and sausage beer bar/restaurant. Instead, Josh and David’s vision is to elevate beer in Zürich to the status that people have given to wine.
By excellently pairing beers and dishes created with beer, and by bringing out the best in both, Grain has set itself apart from other beer establishments in Zürich.
The new establishment has managed to get Patrick Leuenberger, formerly of the Hotel Florhof in Zürich, onto their team. Together, they have created an incredible selection of seasonal offerings using fresh and local ingredients.
Each dish also comes with a beer recommendation. After our welcome drink, we sit down to a feast starting with an amuse-bouche followed by a fish course: A wonderfully cut slice of local smoked trout with beer pickled vegetables and a pickled char with hazelnuts, horseradish and black salsify.
The meat course is pork belly and the Grain’s specialty coq au biere. The accompanying ales from Bachweg Brewing paired brilliantly. For dessert, we indulge in Grain’s signature beeramisu and a baked chocolate tart.
For anyone who does not think that you can drink beer with dessert, you will need to talk to David and be convinced otherwise. (Trust me, the pairing works.)
After this meal, I find it safe to conclude that some beers and dishes pair together as well or better than wine and food. If you are looking for a new culinary experience, try the three-course beer dinner at Grain.
There’s a surprise in the basement.
Almost rolling out of our seats after the delicious meal, David decides to show us the downstairs of Grain. Lo and behold, guess what they have? A bowling alley (Kegelbahn) that they hope will find fans.
We also get to look into the beer cellar, a perfectly cooled, large beer storage room filled with kegs and direct lines to the taps above. Back upstairs, we taste our way through a selection of other beers in the bar. David tells us that they have live music sessions on Tuesdays. Live music is something that Zürich has been in need of for a long time – and it pairs perfectly with beer and food. The patio also looks like it will be a winner when summer returns…
A beer for any taste.
The Grain’s twelve taps rotate through a variety of different beers. About six taps have a selection of beers from larger established breweries, and the other six feature beers from Bachweg Brewing in Edlibach as well as other smaller craft breweries like Vieri Bräu from Zürich’s Kreis 4.
From sours to IPAs and over to stouts – the beer selection at Grain really has something to please everyone. We greatly enjoyed our evening at Grain, and I believe that they will be successful. So, hop on a tram and plan your next lunch or dinner at Kirche Fluntern!