Posted by: musinganorak | August 12, 2010

East Meets West

Holiday Musings – Day 9

And so on to Berlin, a city neither of us has visited before. Arriving around lunchtime we checked in to the hotel and then decided to head out and make a start on the sights. It turned out that one of the main sights, Checkpoint Charlie, was one street away from the hotel and so, unsurprisingly, we started there. There is currently a lot of development work going on in the immediate vicinity but there was an excellent series of information boards placed on the hoardings giving an overview of not only the history of Berlin since WWII but of East-West relations since WWII as well. This made it easy to place all of the events in to context. Once we got to the actual checkpoint I realised that I’d have to be careful how I took any photos, if you stand on the left hand side of the road the only backdrop you get is of a massive McDonalds, which I guess says a lot in itself. I took my pictures from the right hand side of the road.

From here it was a short walk to the largest remaining stretch of the wall. Not surprisingly in the immediate aftermath of the fall of the regime the majority of the wall was torn down by the population who wished to be rid of it, and to be honest I’m surprised as much of it remains as it does.

It has to be said that Berlin has made an excellent job of making information available to tourists wandering the streets. There are countless information boards explaining what it is you are looking at. The whole city is like a huge outdoor museum, London take note! We ambled off towards the more central areas with the iconic Brandenberg Gate as our next destination. We got there via Potsdamer Platz and the massive new Holocaust Memorial before continuing on to the absolutely huge building that is the Reichstag.

By now we had done an awful lot of walking which meant it must be time to track down our first Berlin brewpub. We still had a fair walk ahead of us but eventually we located Georgbræu and sat beside the river to drink the 2 beers that they brew. The one thing that was noticeable about virtually all of the breweries we visited in Berlin was the fact that didn’t publish the ABV of any of the beers. After finishing here we continued in to the Mitte area of the city where a further 3 brewpubs awaited us. The first of these was Mitte and is situated on the first floor of a shopping mall. We sat on the balcony which gave excellent views of the main rail lines in to Berlin. Heaven! They had 4 beers available and I sampled all of them courtesy of their bierkostprobe, a sampling tray. The four beers were a Pils, a Dunkel, a Hefeweizen and the seasonal, a Zwickel.

From here it was a short walk to the other side of the railway where we located Lemke which is sited in one of the railway arches. This brewpub also owns Mitte but the two operations are supposed to be seperate. The fact that they are both under the same ownership became immediately obvious when my bierkostprobe arrived as the actual tray and glasses were identical. The contents though, weren’t, which reinforces the fact that both pubs brew seperately. Here I had Original, Pilsener, Hefeweizen and their seasonal, Wiener. Although both pubs had a pils and a weizen they both tasted distinctly different. Seperate ticks as far as I’m concerned! The final port of call for this evening was Marcus-Bräu which has a tiny brewing kit situated behind the bar. Two beers were available, a Pils and a Dunkel.

Brew kit at Marcus-Bräu

Back at the hotel I managed to get a bottle of Berliner Kindl Weisse, 3.0%, now produced by Schultheiss. After a bit of confusion with the barman I eventually managed to convince him that I wanted to drink it without any of the syrups that the locals insist on adding. Despite being a mass produced beer from one of the big breweries this was one of the best beers I had on the trip. A wonderfully sour wheat beer despite it’s low ABV.

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