Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ich Bin Berliner

Germany

After the sweaty streets of Madrid, Berlin felt positively arctic at "only" 28 degrees. It was good to be in beer country once again, and one of our first stops was the Georgen Brauhaus on the banks of the Spree near Alexanderplatz. This is a relative newcomer, only brewing since 1992. Their beers get something of a hammering in some bits of the blogoshire, but I like their helles. I'd enjoyed it at a couple of UK beer festivals and was keen to try it from the fountainhead, so to speak. Here it was lemony, zesty and refreshing. Just the ticket after all that Cruzcampo, Mahou and Estrella Damm.

We hadn't planned it, but we were in town at the same time as the International Berliner Bierfestival, which claims to be the "longest beer garden worldwide" stretching as it does almost the entire length of Karl Marx Allee. We got there on our last day in Berlin, but couldn't indulge too much. I am without doubt the clumsiest man alive even when I haven't been on the pop, and I didn't fancy drunkenly riding my hire bike under a tram. I slaked the thirst acquired cycling from Friedichstrasse with a (very decent) L├╝bzer Pils and picked up a few bottles of other beers for later. As miracles happen on holiday I thought there might be a chance that one of the bottle shops could have a Westvleteren under the counter, but no. As it happens, there wasn't that much out of the ordinary to try, but it's worth a visit and would make a quieter alternative to the overrated Oktoberfest down south. The endless row of beer stalls was broken up with music stages. At each one a tiny audience was watching a be-mulleted and enthusiastic guitarist. Bless the Germans - no matter how hard they rock, they always end up looking a bit camp.

The Brits were represented by Greene King, Newcastle Brown and er, Strongbow. I suspect these were stalls run by local agents rather than an expeditionary force by the parent companies. But still - must try harder. Vietnam had a bigger presence than the UK.

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