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Beer in Berlin: Zum Nussbaum, Nikolaiviertel

November 8, 2012 1 comment

Nikolaiviertel is a small area of Mitte, near Alexanderplatz and Museum Island, which appears older than it actually is.  Like much of Berlin, it was flattened towards the end of the war, but in 1980s was rebuilt by the East German authorities for the city’s 750th anniversary, with Berlin’s “oldest” church, the twin-spired Nikolaikirche at its centre.

Opposite Nikolaikirche, now a museum rather than a working church, is a small pub-restaurant called Zum Nussbaum (Walnut Tree), which was built in 1985-7 based on the plans of a destroyed pub that once stood in another part of Berlin.

It’s a small three-room pub with around forty seats.  We were lucky to get a seat on a Tuesday afternoon, in the dark wood-panelled back room with small prints from the cartoonist and artist Heinrich Zille, who is commemorated with a statue and museum nearby.

The range of beers was limited to those from Berliner Kindl, but we both went for the recommendation in Around Berlin In 80 Beers: Postdamer Rex Pils, a satisfying bitter pilsner.  We had a tasty late lunch of Boulette (a kind of meatball/burger) and Bockwurst with potato salad.

Zum Nussbaum is a pleasant, cosy pub in a nice area.  However it was difficult to forget that this quarter was destroyed in the most tragic period in Berlin’s history and that this seemingly aged pub is seven years younger than me.

Beer in Berlin: Lindenbräu, Sony Centre, Potsdamer Platz

November 6, 2012 1 comment

Potsdamer Platz is one of the many places in Berlin steeped in history and symbolism.  It was the most important traffic intersections in Berlin from German unification in 1871 until the Second World War, hosting department stores, hotels and beer halls.  It was so busy that in 1924 it gained one of the first traffic light systems in continental Europe.

The buildings in the area were almost entirely flattened by the end of the Battle for Berlin.  After the war the border of East and West Berlin ran straight through it, so that the Berlin Wall bisected it from 1961 to 1989.  Potsdamer Platz has since been rebuilt with a number of large buildings, including the Sony Centre, which includes parts of the old Hotel Esplanade amongst a cinema and film museum under a huge and striking roof.

Also in the Sony Centre is Lindenbräu, a three storey brewpub with a brewkit in the middle of the building.  After a morning exploring some of the interesting but thought-provoking historical sights in the area, a drink was welcome.  We sat on the second floor, by the closed roof terrace (it was a cold afternoon) and enjoyed the house Weissbeir.

The beer was refeshingly lemony and tart; very enjoyable for a style of beer that I’m not usually that interested in.  We didn’t stay for food but saw what others had ordered.  The speciality of many of Berlin’s brewpubs seems to be the Schweinshaxe, generous helpings of pork knuckle, and the examples we saw here looked excellent, with some very crispy skin.

Lindenbräu had a limited selection of beers, so I’m not sure it would be worth a special trip, but it’s a good place to refuel when you’re sightseeing around Mitte and the Tiergarten.

Beer in Berlin: Brauhaus Lemke, Hackescher Markt

November 4, 2012 2 comments

Thanks to the book Around Berlin In 80 Beers by Peter Sutcliffe (not that one) we were quickly able to find a few good pubs near our hotel in Mitte for a drink on the first evening of our trip to Berlin.  Brauhaus Lemke turned out to be one of the best and we returned three or four times during the week.

Lemke is a slightly mediaeval looking, moderately large brewpub in railway arches near Hackescher Markt station that sells a small range of its own beers.  Whilst we were there they sold a pilsner, weissbeir, “original” and a special at any time.  The special on the first evening was a Zwickl, evidently a light unfiltered lager, which was pleasant but inoffensive.  On the second visit, and for the rest of our stay, the special a “Stout Doppelbock“, which was a tasty, raisiny stout with a nice dry hoppiness to balance the malt sweetness.

The beer we kept coming back to was the Original, a balanced chestnut brown beer with a fresh light bitterness. Like a lot of the pubs we visited, there was as much focus on food as there was on drinking, and the Original went well with all the dishes Kate and I tried, including Schnitzel, Goumetbratwurst, Nürnberger Würstchen and pork fillets.  There were beef and chicken options too, as well as Flammkuchen, a popular pizza-like flatbread from Alsace.

The food was reasonably priced and generously (although not ridiculously) portioned whilst the staff were helpful and efficient.  I understand that Lemke also has another brewpub in the west of the city and owns a number of other pubs, including Brauhaus Mitte near Alexanderplatz, which we didn’t make it to.

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