“Die Weltmeisterschaft in Deutschland” is the latest episode of One Pint at a Time.
For two years, we’d been dreaming of watching the world’s greatest sporting event while in Germany. Arriving the last day of group play for both the United States and Germany, we stayed through the quarterfinal stage of the World Cup.
This trip will always hold a special place for us. Watching Germany demolish both England and Argentina, the intensity of the matches, and the joys of the celebrations were all absolutely remarkable. But what we’ll remember most is that we spent these great beer travel moments with friends.
So enjoy our latest beer adventures in Germany…
For all the episodes of One Pint at a Time go to beergeekTV.
We had two more days to explore Berlin which gave us time to venture outside the city center. We called it ‘traveling off the map’ as a number of our brewery destinations weren’t on the free Tourist office maps. Armed with the not-always-reliable Google maps, we hopped on the U-Bahn ready to explore Berlin’s neighborhoods.
We’d already been to Berlin’s smallest brewery. Now, it was time to drink beer at Germany’s smallest brewery. Located a short walk from the Spindersfeld S-Bahn station, Schlossplatzbrauerei Coepenick, as the name suggests, is located in the Schlossplatz in the riverside neighborhood of Köpenick.
The brewery and tiny bar occupies a kiosk type building in the small square. The seats in the beer garden must outnumber the seats at the bar by several hundred. With the sun beaming brightly, we grabbed a seat in their beer garden.
From their tiny brewery, Schlossplatzbrauerei Coepenick produced the standard Helles and Dunkel plus a few seasonal beers. On the day of our visit, only the standards were available, so ‘zwei Helles’ it was.
The relaxing, quiet atmosphere was only interrupted by an occasional tram, car or the old guy hacking up a lung. Schlossplatzbrauerei Coepenick was well worth the three trains we had to ride to get there.
Walking down a residential street in the Neukölln neighborhood, we had the sneaking suspicion that Google maps had lead us wrong again. To our relief, halfway down the tree shaded block, we finally spotted a faded brewery sign. Brauhaus in Rixdorf, was set back from the street in a small compound. The 19th century building was surrounded on two sides by an expansive and varied beer garden that included a koi pond and several big screens for watching the World Cup.
The main building housed the brewery and a bar on each level. Exploring the building, I was amazed by all the small dining rooms and nooks, all elaborately decorated with wall paintings and knick knacks. It took me several minutes of wandering its halls to discover them all. The other interesting thing about the building, it was completely empty. Everyone was out in the beer garden.
Over a very pleasant lunch of Nürnberger sausages, Merideth and I enjoyed the range of their house beers. We each started with a Weizenbiere and then I moved on to try the Helles and Dunkel. Brauhaus in Rixdorf also had a “Saisonbiere’, their Summer beer, but we passed on that.
We are not experts on Berlin neighborhoods, but we do know from watching House Hunters International that Brauhaus Südstern is located in one of Berlin’s hip up and coming addresses: Kreuzberg. Exiting the Südstern U-Bahn station, the brewpub was just a short walk down the street. There are two beer gardens to chose from, one in the front on the street, the other out back, quiet and peaceful.
Sitting in the street side beer garden, we arrived just in time to watch some of the first knockout match of the World Cup, Uruguay v. South Korea. We spent the first half trying the four house beers, Helles, Pils, Weizen and Dunkel (surprise!). The Helles and Pils were the two stars.
We knew nothing of the Fredrichshain neighborhood as we stepped off the S-Bahn at Frankfurter Allee. As we walked the short three blocks to the Schalander Hausbraueri, we fell in love with the neighborhood. We could see ourselves living in one of the flats above the tree-lined avenues. And we could see ourselves walking to our local brewery, Schalander.
Fantasy over, we grabbed one of the tables out front. After a long morning walk, lunch and a few beers was what Merideth and I needed. Merideth’s Flammenhkuchen with ham and onions and my house-made sausages and potato salad went perfectly with the house-made Helles beer. Schalander was one of those places we could have stayed all day, enjoying the beer, sunshine and playing scrabble. But we had other places to be and with great reluctance, we pushed on.
Located north of the Tiergarten, Brewbaker, like Brahaus Lemke was under an elevated railroad track. We stopped by Brewbaker after the German’s huge victory over the English in the World Cup so the crowd was boisterous and festive. With our friends Paul and Eilís, our foursome grabbed a table in the compact beer garden in the back.
Brewbaker was probably the most unique German brewery that we have ever been to. Besides the fine Pils, Brewbaker also had a Summer Stout and Amber Ale. The Summer Stout rivaled any low ABV stout I have ever had in the UK. The roasted malt and chocolate flavors melded perfectly with the light body. As Merideth said, “This truly is a summer stout.” Amber beers are the Rodney Dangerfield of the brewing world. But if more were like the Brewbaker version, maybe they would get more respect. Brilliantly hoppy, the Amber Ale was another great summer beer.
In our three days in Berlin, we made it to nine of the ten breweries on our target list. In reaching the breweries, we traveled to Berlin’s numerous and varied neighborhoods. In doing so, I think we gained a new found respect for the German capital. We might not go as far as to say we love Berlin, but it is definitely growing on us.
We last visited Berlin on our first trip to Germany in 2001. Earlier on that journey, we visited Munich and completely fell in love with the Bavarian capital. During our stay in Berlin, all we could think was that it wasn’t Munich. The warm and cozy feel we got in Munich was not present in the sprawling construction zone that was Berlin. Now, we return to Berlin nine years later to give it another chance.
In 2010, Berlin still feels like a huge construction zone. While not like 2001, cranes still dominate parts of the skyline. But this is not the Berlin of 2001. We were introduced to the new Berlin on the walk to our first brewery stop of the day, Lindenbräu in the Sony Center at Potsdamer Platz. The Wall ran right through Potsdamer Platz and back in 2001, the Sony Center was the only building in a sea of construction sites. Walking from our hotel to the Sony Center, we were amazed by how little we recognized the area. A new city has sprouted up around the Sony Center.
We arrived at Lindenbräu right at opening time and grabbed one of the numerous outside tables. The brewpub is some sort of collaboration with Hofbräuhaus Traunstein with the Bavarian brewery supervising the brewing of the one house beer, Hofbräu-Weiße. Each of us quickly had one in hand. It was the perfect beer for an already warm day.
I vaguely remember drinking Berliner Weiße back in 2001. And I vaguely remember not caring for it. Berliner Weiße is a wheat beer that has syrup added when served. Traditionally there are two flavors of syrup, Himbeer (raspberry) or Waldmeister (woodruff). With its low alcohol content, Berliner Weiße is touted as the perfect summer beer.
We knew we wanted to try Berliner Weiße again. Seeing the Berliner Kindl version on Lindenbräu’s menu, I ordered one of each, a red and a green. My order elicited two responses from our waitress: “Only tourists order that…” and “Do you know what it is?”
Assuring our waitress that we understood what we were getting ourselves into, we soon had two glasses of neon colored liquid in front of us. Both syrups give the Berliner Weiße a sickly sweet flavor with the green being the milder of the two. The red was just like drinking soda pop. In either case, we couldn’t tell the base component was beer. With my memories from 2001 validated, it was time to move on.
If Berlin has a brewing center, it would be the area around Alexander Platz. In close proximity of the train station are three breweries with a fourth a short walk away.
Walking down from the Brandenburg Gate along Unter den Linden, the first of these brewpubs we reached was Brahaus Mitte. Located in a unassuming shopping mall, Brahaus Mitte is situated on the second level overlooking the action out on Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse. Avoiding the inside seating inundated with tour groups, we grabbed a seat on the flower-covered balcony.
Brauhaus Mitte had three of the standard German brews: Pils, Hefeweizen and Dunkel. I started with the Pils while Merideth, turning over a new leaf, chose the Hefe. Merideth has learned to appreciate German-style wheat beers more and more. Brauhaus Mitte’s Weizen was neither too clove-y nor banana-y, just the way she likes it. As the day warmed up to be a bit hot and humid, the Weizen was perfect.
Our next stop, Brauhaus Lemke, should have been a short walk around the corner from Brauhaus Mitte. Unfortunately, we relied on the Google map that I had printed out for directions. The dot on the sheet was on the opposite side of the Alexander Platz train station from its actual location. After wandering around for about a half an hour, I finally said to Merideth. “it should be here according to my Google map.” Then a flash of brilliance: look at the street numbers. We found Brahaus Lemke shortly thereafter.
Brauhaus Lemke is located in an archway underneath the elevated railway tracks. The arched ceiling gives the brewpub a cool cave, cellar-like feel. Passing through the building, we situated ourselves in the peaceful beer garden out back. There were a couple of cozy chairs, but we chose one of the tables in the garden-like setting. The only noise that disturbed the tranquility was the occasional train passing overhead.
A rarity in Germany, Brauhaus Lemke had a taster set of their four beers. Along with the standard Pils and Weizen, the taster set was rounded out by a Zwickelbier and “Original”, a malty, deep amber-colored brew. After our taster set, we both ordered a half liter of the Zwickelbier, an unfiltered lager.
The last brewery in the Alexander Platz neighborhood, Marcus Bräu, was a short, two-minute walk from Lemke. Billed as Berlin’s smallest brewery, Marcus Bräu, was located in a small corner pub on a busy shopping street. Having just opened for the day, Merideth and I were their first customers.
Marcus Bräu had two beers, a Pils and a Dark. Both were very nice with the Pils being the preferred choice for the weather.
We ended the first day’s brewery tour at GeorgBräu, a brewpub that we visited back in 2001. The brewpub’s pleasant riverside setting was one of the strong memories we had of our first trip to Berlin. Located along the Spree River, GeorgBräu, was a ten minute walk from Alexander Platz.
With our brewery goals for the day reached, we finally had some time to relax and enjoy the Berlin evening.