Beer in Berlin: Dicke Wirtin, Charlottenburg and Berliner Kindl Weisse
We spent very little time in what used to be West Berlin during our holiday, but did take the S-Bahn to Zoo station to see the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche, an iconic church mostly destroyed by air raids but whose surviving broken spire and entrance hall, containing some incredible mosaics, stands beside a modern functionalist church built between 1959 and 1963. After a brief walk down the shopping street Kurfürstendamm, we turned up to Savignyplatz to find a beer.
Around Berlin In 80 Beers guided us towards Dicke Wirtin (the “Thick Landlady”, Google translate tells me, which seems to refer to a revered, Corrie-esque former landlady immortalised in photos and unflattering charicatures), a traditional wood panelled pub with lots of kitsch character. The front room was full of mirrors and high tables and a bar with large glass flasks of homemade fruit brandy above it.
The back room appeared to be a dining room, with a mannequin dressed as a Soviet officer guarding a corridor back to the kitchen and toilets. Off the front room was a smoking room, which still made the bar smell a bit of smoke, which is difficult to ignore following the blanket implementation of the smoking ban in the UK.
Kate ordered a König Pilsener, as suggested by the book, which was a pleasant pilsner if not as bitter as it had apparently once been renowned for. I decided that I couldn’t leave Berlin without trying a Berliner Kindl Weisse with grün, a woodruff syrup. I was informed that Kindl Weisse on its own tastes a bit like a watered down lambic and that almost everyone has it with either green or red (raspberry) syrup.
It didn’t bode well that the green beer came with a straw. It tasted very sweet, like a jelly sweet, with a fairly artificial taste. If the original beer had much of an underlying taste, it couldn’t be identified. I managed to drink it quickly before moving on to a small glass of pilsner.
I should note that Dicke Wirtin had soft rock ballads playing in the background including, inevitably, Wind Of Change by the Scorpions. I don’t think I’ve ever visited a city in continental Europe – Prague, Rome, Madrid, Florence, Bruges – without hearing the bloody thing, usually from a busker. However, at least it seems apposite in Berlin, if no less clichéd and cloying. The perfect song for a Berliner Weisse with a woodruff shot, in fact.