Local brews - the chance to taste the best
There’s nothing better than grabbing a drink in one of Berlin’s many biergartens. This German tradition has a quirky edge in Berlin, ranging from riverside picnic tables to sand pits attempting to inspire that seaside feeling. We attribute the obsession with such outdoor spaces to the long and cold Berlin winters. When the sun finally shines no one wants to abandon it, even if a blanket provided by the establishment is necessary to ward off a chilly breeze! The only potential difficulty is understanding all the choices on the drinks menu.
Here is our breakdown...
Alsterwasser or Radler: in Australia or Britain this is known as shandy. A mix of pilsner and lemonade, it’s refreshing, gets your sugar levels back in order, and doesn’t make your speech slur as quickly after several consumed in the sunshine.
Pils or Pilsener: the champagne of beers, crisp and clean, light in color, made from an early fermentation of hops, it’s bitter in taste and rich in aroma. The proper draft however should take 7 minutes, so don’t get impatient with your waiter if it takes a moment.
Weizenbier: a local favorite of which there are two varieties: Kristallweizen or "clear wheat"– refreshing, wheaty-tasting beer served with lemon, and Hefeweizen or "yeast wheat"– of which you can order either a helles – light, or dunkeles – dark, depending on the amount of sediment and fullness of flavor you prefer.
Berliner Weisse: unique to Berlin, this drink was introduced by the Hugenots who migrated here from France in the late 17th century. Finding the local brew a tad bitter, they added syrup to sweeten things up. Today it comes in two flavors: “Himbeer” or raspberry (red), or “Waldmeister”, which is woodruff (green). Served with a straw, it’s pleasantly sweet and quenches the thirst.
Weissweinschorle: white wine topped with a bit of sparkling mineral water - refreshing!
Rotkäppchen Sekt: this is not just an example of Germany’s Method Champagnoise – it’s the socialist version! Rotkäppchen (i.e. Little Red Riding Hood) was the former GDR’s state bubbly. People don’t only drink it to reminisce – it's actually rather good! Zum Wohl, Kamarad! (Cheers, Comrade!)
Afri Cola: this is Germany’s very own cola; in fact the company was founded in 1864 – possibly making it the mother of all colas. What sets it apart from the others is that it’s jam packed with caffeine. Made from the cola nut, this refreshing jet-black soda is tasty stuff.
Apfelschorle: apple juice served with sparkling mineral water makes for a great summer thirst quencher.
Club Mate: this German drink is a Berlin essential for those on the go (whether work- or party-related). The caffeinated, carbonated mate-tea concoction is an acquired taste but definitely worth a try.
Bionade: this fermented drink is native to Germany and although inspired by beer it is strictly non-alcoholic. Made from 100% natural ingredients and bringing together interesting flavor combinations such as ginger and orange, this is a delicious low-sugar thirst quencher.
Old-School Berlin Beers
Berliner Pilsner, Berliner Kindl, Schultheiss and Berliner Bürgerbräu are the remaining local brews in a city that was once full of breweries due to the (still) excellent water quality. These four brands are now all brewed at one complex, which you can visit if you make a reservation - if you want to brush up on your German, that is!
Indira-Gandhi-Str. 66-69, Weißensee
Betriebshof Indira-Gandhi-Straße (Tram 13)
Hops and Barley – Micro-brewery
This little local brewery offers a small selection of high-quality beers, of which we can strongly recommend the Hefeweizen and the season's special. The cozy location has a lot of local flavor so if you're in the east side of the city don't miss the opportunity for a drink here!
Wühlischstr 22/23, Friedrichshain
Ostkreuz (S Bahn)
Prater Biergarten – Berlin's oldest biergarten
It's simply an institution (est. 1837)! Sit under the sprawling chestnut trees, enjoy the setting with a drink and a bretzel or bratwurst. Note: The Prater Restaurant (adjoining) has excellent Wiener Schnitzel and Königsberger Klopse – veal dumplings in white sauce with capers.
Kastanienallee 7-9, Prenzlauer Berg
Eberswalder Straße (U2)
You can't beat the location of this so called 'beach bar'. Lying directly on the river Spree and with a beautiful view of the Bode Museum, the location has plenty to keep you entertained, what with the boats tugging by and the constant flow of people from Museum Island. At night you'll also find a dance floor under the stars hosting cha-cha, swing and tango!
Directly across from the Bode Museum in Monbijou Park, Mitte
Hackescher Markt (S Bahn)
Situated on the edge of Berlin's central park, this biergarten is perfect for a midday stop when visiting sights in the west such as Potsdamer Platz or the Kulturforum. The picnic table-style seating makes for a laid-back atmosphere where dogs are welcome and kids can run about freely.
Müller Breslau Straße, Tiergarten
Tiergarten (S Bahn)
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