The former secret police – Stasi – headquarters in East Berlin covers a sizeable area. Some of it seems to be used for health services, some buildings are covered in scaffolding, but if you look closely, you find that one of the houses contains the temporary exhibition of the Stasi museum. This grim part of fairly recent German and European history certainly deserves a museum, but the displays fit well with the furniture from the Stasi offices – there is a strong feeling of 1970 about it. By that I mean the way museums were set up in 1970 – documents, photos and physical objects in glass display cases. The Checkpoint Charlie museum we visited the day before was similar – stuck in a time warp. I was there in 1987, and it was just the same. Time for the German authorities to consider how they present their recent history, particularly as there are some important messages to be taught to new generations of Germans.
Enough about the DDR, we found ourselves on the main boulevard of East Berlin. What next? A brewpub within walking distance, of course. Tucked away in a residential area, the Schalander Wirtshausbrauerei is a rather modest place. Three regular house beers plus the occasional seasonal beer, a short menu plus the dish of the day on a blackboard. The place looks rather small, but there is a smoking area at the back we did not investigate further. A new place, this, established 2009, according to the sign by the door, but the interior is rather timeless, down to the cuckoo clock on the wall.
We had started the day with a substantial breakfast, but the menu offered Alsatian Flammekuche pies, so we ordered two to share. One was the classic with bacon and onions, the other with blue cheese, spinach and walnuts. Both were very nice.
The beer list was very similar to our other stops – a Weizen, a Helles and a Dunkel.
The Weizen had the soft mouth feel of wheat malt, a hint of apricots and some lemon in the aftertaste. The pils was a good version of the style, crisp, light and with a generous dose of dry hops. The Dunkel, however, was the highlight of the weekend, at least so far. A glowing amber beer. Carmale, prunes. Pleasant sourness and a dry finish. Well hopped, well-balanced, reminded me of an Altbier.
The pretty waitress spoke excellent English, so we did not get to practice our German at this stop. She recommended another brewpub in the same area and pointed it out for us on the map. We really didn’t have any choice.