The contrasts between East and West are still very evident. Or, more correctly, the contrasts between the manicured center of town with all the landmarks and museums and the residential areas where people work, play and live their lives.
Friedrichshain is ten minutes by taxi or U-bahn from Mitte, but it seems far away. Some of it run down and shabby, sure, but at the same time you feel a relief after all the marble, steel and glass. A note for tickers – some of the small stores here with signs for Lebensmittel or groceries seemed to have a fine range of beers. I did not have any time to investigate.
The small streets resemble a labyrinth, but with the aid of both a map and a phone with GPS, we found our way to Hops & Barley just as the doors were opened.
Many other bars in Berlin open for lunch, but this on does not open until 17.00 – useful to know.
The brewpub is located in an old butcher’s shop, and the brewery has a capacity of 470 liters per batch. Don’t be fooled by the small equipment in the front room, this is used for brewing courses (and probably for test batches?). This is also a new place, it opened three years ago.
Quite similar to an English local, laid back atmosphere, including a resident dog. Johnny Cash in the background, friendly conversations. Not any extensive food menu, but some hot snacks, including sausages, meaning you don’t have to interrupt a serious drinking session to go out for food.. There is even an apartment sleeping six persons above the bar with very decent rates.
The beers? The best of the weekend. There are three regulars. No points for guessing. A wheat beer, a light and a dark. In addition there is a beer of the week, a constantly changing offer. When we were there it was a Vienna lager, perhaps not the most exiting among beer styles, but it was a very decent brew.
While the range was fairly standard, their Dunkel was the best beer we encountered in Berlin. Deep red. Liquorice and smoke, but in just the right subtle amounts. More dry than sweet. Cocoa and cereals. This was a beer one could happily sip the whole evening.
But we did not have the whole evening. We had various airports to go to. Reluctantly we asked them to call us a taxi. But this is the one spot I’m sure I’ll return to.