Thursday, 8 October 2015

#292: Berlin

The 6 hour train journey from Amsterdam to Berlin spent most of our day's energy, despite landing us in Germany's formidable capital early enough in the afternoon. As is now a constant on our German visits, it was hot as hell and unforgiving of the walking, suitcase-dragging tourist. As such, after a long rest back at the hotel, the only thing we had the time or energy to do was get the bus to Potsdamer Platz and have a nose around.

Here was the first beer destination of Berlin, Lindenbräu. The replica indoor-but-outdoor beer garden was weird, especially seen for the first time at night when the Sony Centre is a glowing, shapeshifting mass of light. 
One each please, a Märkischer Landmann Dunkel for me, a Zwickl for herself. Mine was a lovely chocolatey, raisiny thing that was tipped off kilter first by a twang of copper at the finish, and then again when it was pointed out to me that it smells just like barbecue beef' Hula Hoops. Hmm. Still, it remained a serviceable dunkel, and  I was glad of it.
Sober Destrier's Zwickl was softer, all lemon and light biscuity malt, but even that was somewhat tainted by an assertive huskiness that damaged its clean quaffer cred.

A couple of days later, back in a now sunny Sony Centre, I decided I'd go for the local curiosity, a Berliner Weisse. Ever the tourist, I went for the classic woodruff version of Berliner Kindl, and boy did I regret it. It comes a cartoon nuclear waste green with an alarming green-tinted white foam. A sad straw marks the disaster area for the eventual arrival of the UN cleanup team. Eugh. I was looking for sour refreshment, but this has way more soft marzipan sweetness than anything that could legitimately be considered sour. I like marzipan, so I took those first couple of sips with a bemused but entertained smile on my face, before I started to wonder when my life had taken such a dark turn. Every sweet swallow was made bitter by observing the rest of the clientèle sink their jugs of delicious pils. Unfortunately, this bitterness was only metaphorical. Of course, this is all my own fault, opting as I did for the syruped version, but nevertheless I found I couldn't quite stomach the whole sugary glass. What you see pictured here is what I left behind. 

If there's any justice in the world, it will still be sitting there on a table in Potsdamer Platz, lonely and choked with the corpses of the summer's wasps and flies, a beacon of warning against all who think syrupy Berliner Weisse is worth a go.

In between those visits to Lindenbräu our non-beery tourism took us close enough to Lemke's place in Hackescher Markt to justify a call in. This is a much more visually appealing place, nestled under a railway with a leafy, cosy beer garden out back. 
A quencher was on order, as ever, so it was Lemke's Hopfenweisse first. This is a low carbonation affair with all the usual banana and soft overripe fruit. There's an whiff of Cascade hopping too but the biggest thing I take from the beer is the surprising and uncharacteristic slick oiliness of the texture. At 7% ABV it's a little bit too strong to be a proper refresher, though it is billed on the menu as a Weizenbock-IPA so perhaps I was looking in the wrong place for something I could sink into.

The house beer is a Vienna lager and, hey! I like Vienna lager! So that was next on my list. Lemke Original is an abhorrent apparition of muddy, murky brown. Thankfully it's not murky to taste, being reasonably clean, standard lager fare that isn't all that good or all that bad. Wet Hobnob-like biscuity grain is about the size of it.

Much prettier is the Imperial IPA, which despite its lack of any head has a lovely, clear orange glow in a teku glass. The aroma is a ridiculously juicy, Tutti Frutti sweets mix of mango, citrus, pineapple and tropical fruit juice. To taste it's a sweet, honeyed tropical fruit dessert that is sweeter than I'd like from a double IPA, no doubt helped by the 10% alcohol, but remaining interesting and tasty enough to be sipped slowly and enjoyably for the remainder of the stay.

On that slow sipper we end this beer log of Berlin. Next up, Prague.


  1. They must have changed the Berliner Kindl Weisse Grün recipe since I drank it seven years ago. Mine was much less lurid.

    I like that Lemke is doing some non-traditional styles but it sounds like they haven't quite got the hang of it.

    1. Lemke is a weird one; despite the look of those beers above, it remains my favourite beer place of the trip. They had bottles of a imperial stout that I wanted to try but it was €11 to take away.

  2. "I like marzipan, so I took those first couple of sips with a bemused but entertained smile on my face, before I started to wonder when my life had taken such a dark turn."