Saturday, 20 August 2016

Nate Dawg in Berlin: Day One

About a month ago I sporadically decided to book a quick solo break in Berlin. It's somewhere I've always wanted to go so I said "fuck it" and did it.

I had an early flight on Wednesday morning which was delayed by about an hour; not ideal when you've only got 48 hours. Finally landed and was in need of a beer so thankfully there was an Augustiner biergarten just outside the terminal! That first pint of Augustiner Helles was gone in no time at all so it was time to be on my way.

I was going down to Brauhaus Lemke to meet a friend. I finally got there no thanks to a delayed train, and was interested to see that it was in a railway arch. It wasn't rustic and industrial like a Bermonsey arch, it was clean and nice. Only the onsite brewed Lemke beers are available here so I decided to check out the 030 Pale an American style pale ale, that was loaded with juicy, grassy hops. The Hopfenweisse came next and it was everything I want in the style... those yeasty esters with juicy hops whispering over them. I decided, quite sensibly, to finish my visit with a massive Imperial IPA; certainly not in the top DIPAs I've had but fairly respectable nonetheless.

We then popped into Marcusbrau, a tiny brewpub that also appeared to sell Asian influenced food although I didn't look at a menu. The small brewkit proudly sits behind the bar alongside two 5bbl conical fermenters, whereas to the left is a growler filling machine that they use to fill massive 1L swingtop bottles. The Unfiltered Pils was pleasant although maybe a tad yeastier than I like.

David and I departed to check into our respective hotels, vowing to meet up later but that didn't happen as I think I tried to go meet him at the wrong side of Alexanderplatz station.

Along the short walk back to the hotel, I decided to pop into Hofbrauhaus as we didn't make it to the one in Munich back in February. It was an absolutely massive, stereotypical German beer hall like you see on T.V. and it wasn't that busy. I decided to sit outside so I could smoke reasonably priced cigarettes since the weather was nice. I obviously had to go for an entire litre of their delicious Helles, because #YOLO and it was every bit as nice as I remember drinking in the English Gardens in Munich.

I did the boring yet necessary thing of checking into my hotel next, a clean and simple Ibis Budget that only cost me £30 for a night. Next I popped to Kaisers supermarket to check out the beer and snack selection as I knew that once I got back to the hotel later in the evening, I'd fancy a beer.

After a can of something in the hotel, I wandered down to Kaschk which is the epitome of hipster. Even if you've spent as much time around Shoreditch as I have, you've not seen hipster. It opens at 8am to serve coffee and is open until 2am for beers. They've got 15 draught lines, most of which were To Ol beers from Denmark as they appeared to be having a tap takeover at the time. I wasn't in Germany to drink Danish beers, however, so I opted for a half litre of Brlo Pale which was as good as, if not better than, any American Pale Ale I've had in this country. I could have drunk this all day but I figured it was time to move on.

My next stop was Alexanderplatz where I was meant to meet David again, but obviously that didn't happen so I just decided to have a wander and stumbled upon the Berlin Street Theatre Festival which was lively and interactive (although obviously I didn't get involved). There were loads of food and beers stalls around though so I figured it would be rude not to indulge in a large plate of Currywurst and a half litre of Berliner Pilsner which was crisp and refreshing on a hot day.

Moving on, back to the more craft side of Berlin, I went up to Hopfenreich which is a dive bar looking craft beer bar. It was absolutely empty when I went in, so I managed to have a nice chat with the bartender in English (after I ordered in German). I had the Bierfabrik Berlin Wedding Pale Ale which again was fresh, juicy and delicious. The Red Oat Ale by Spent Brewers Collective was interestingly deep, chewy caramel with a hefty wedge of orange and a lovely thick body. My last beer was Backbone Splitter, an IPA from Hanscraft Brewery and it was definitely the best IPA I'd had over my time in Berlin.

It was at this point when I got talking to an American guy called Scott who was on a solo pub crawl in Berlin whilst his wife was with their friends that they were staying with. We decided we'd go have a wander together and get a couple of beers and see the sights. We wandered through a large chunk of Berlin from Hopfenreich, seeing the blend of new and old architecture as well as some parts of the wall. We stopped in a bar and had a beer, then figured we'd pop into the supermarket and grab a beer for the road which happened to be Stone Berlin Arrogant Bastard Ale, a large 500ml can and probably the most expensive beer you'll find in any German supermarket! Arrogant Bastard is a beer I know well, and by god it was tasting fresh. Loved it. We then stopped for a kebab which was the best kebab I have ever had in my life.

We wandered some more and departed. It's one thing I love about travelling; meeting new people. It's great.

After that I went back to Alexanderplatz and popped in a couple of random places, had a couple street beers at the street theatre festival then I decided to do the predictable thing and visit Augustiner because Augustiner is clearly the best German brewery and you can disagree. I took a perch outside and admired the old architecture whilst waiting to have my order taken. Here I decided it was a wise idea to do my usual ordering of a large, but forgetting it's Bavarian style I ended up with a litre of delicious Helles. And that wasn't enough so I ordered another half litre. Then another half litre.

And I somehow made it back to my hotel, watched some German TV, ate some paprika crisps, had a couple of beers and passed out!

I'd fallen in love with Berlin already at this point, and couldn't wait to wake up with an inevitable hangover for the next day...

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