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Berlin & Hamburg Trip: Afterthoughts

After a good night’s sleep in my own bed, while enjoying a lovely hearty breakfast at Frank.—something that was really hard to find near my hotel in Berlin—I’m reflecting on the last couple of days.

Berlin

So Berlin started out as just a small part of a bigger trip, as a short stop mainly to attend BrewDog’s—obviously cancelled—second European AGM, but became the main destination of the whole trip. That meant I all of a sudden started to add a lot of places to my must-visit list, probably more than reasonably fitted in the limited time I had, even after adding an extra night to my stay. So the trip has been quite an exhausting and—quite literally—intoxicating experience, and had better been spread out over yet another extra day or so.
That being said, I’m quite happy I eventually got to go on a trip after all, and even managed to visit most of the places I intended to!

It has been nice to see some bars and breweries I hadn’t yet been to, but I was particularly happy to be able to attend two ‘soft openings’, notably those of the Manifest Taproom, and of the Schneeeule Salon. Since I only heard about those places just before or during my trip, they were really squeezed in my schedule, but they definitely both deserve more time next time in Berlin!

Another place I’ll be staying quite a bit longer next time, is Bräugier. These guys make incredible beers, and I would have tasted everything on the tap list, if I had had more time!
Not new for me, but definitely worth staying until the early hours of the morning—I stayed until 3:30 this time—is the already classic Protokoll!

Hamburg

Hamburg definitely deserves more time to discover! Because I was in such good company, I stayed at BrewDog St Pauli quite a bit longer than planned, and didn’t get to visit any other beer bars…
Next time I’ll book at least one night in a hotel, so I can discover a bit of the nightlife as well!

Stamps

So I managed to get a stamp both in my BrewDog Beer Visa—in BrewDog St Pauli—and my Mikkeller Passport—in Mikkeller Bar Berlin. But I actually gave out more stamps than I received: now customer registration is mandatory in bars and restaurants due to COVID-19, my stamp with my name, e-mail address, and phone number saved me a lot of precious time, and got me quite a few looks from staff and other customers!

Speaking of COVID-19: the Berliner people seem to wear their masks better where required—which is only on public transport and inside buildings when not eating or drinking—than the people of Brussels… I guess that is just the same kind of discipline they also display in traffic?

In conclusion…

All by all, even though this was already my third trip to Berlin, it will certainly not be my last! Actually, now I know more and more people over there—of which some I got to meet this time, others will have to wait until my next visit again—I can see this becoming at least a yearly occurrence!

Four Hours in Hamburg

So what do you eat when in Hamburg? #RedHerringAlert Apparently the most typical thing to eat is Fischbrötchen, so that’s what I had once I reached the docks. I first had one with Fischfrikadelle, but although nice, it felt a bit like cheating: it’s just like cold fish fingers with tartare sauce on a bun. So for the next one I picked the real thing: Kräutermatjes, or spiced, soused herring!

My after-lunch coffee was at Playground Coffee. Unfortunately they were only serving in single-use cups—why?—and I wasn’t quick enough to offer them my KeepCup

Then it was finally time to get a new stamp in my Beer Visa, at BrewDog St Pauli! There I also had the pleasure to chat with Paddy, whom I had thus far only seen in a couple of Zoom beer talks, organised by BrewDog during the severest weeks of lockdown… I had scheduled time for just a short visit to Hamburg, so after that pleasant meeting, I had to hurry to the train station again.

Brewery Day!

My last day in Berlin starts with a slightly unconventional brunch: döner kebab! Different location—Hisar Fresh Food this time—but basically the same planning as about a year ago, when BrewDog organised its first European AGM in Berlin.

Although never even officially announced, this exact Saturday the second edition was supposed to take place, and even though this isn’t happening for obvious reasons, I decided to go to the brewery anyway. Still no S-Bahn station in front of the premises, so it was a bit of a walk again.

I had taken a tour the last time I was there, but it was only a short version, and at the time they hadn’t even started brewing their own beers yet. So I decided to take the tour again: the full version this time. The included tasting gave me the opportunity to try some of the beers brewed there, and after that DogTap still had a couple of beers on draught I hadn’t tried yet.

But I wouldn’t have called this post “Brewery Day” just for visiting one brewery: on the opposite side of town—after a coffee at Stück vom Glück— I also visited Two Fellas, and Bräugier, and there are some more to come after dinner!

Back in Berlin

So almost exactly a year after my last visit, I’m back in Berlin! After checking into easyHotel Berlin—same as last year—and dropping off my baggage, it was time to get some food in my belly.

When I visited Berlin the very first time, I already visited Markthalle Neun, At the time, they were already closing, so I didn’t really have the opportunity to check out the market itself. This time round, however, it was Street Food Thursday, meaning the food stalls were open late! Of course, brewery Heidenpeters was still there to provide me with some beer to accompany my dinner…

While I was in the neighbourhood, I paid a quick visit to Hopfenreich, before heading back north of the Spree river again.

The newest kid on the block—only soft opening tonight—is the Manifest taproom. Unfortunately, they only accepted cash their first night, which severely limited my time there. But they had a dog, so that’s a plus at least. And their beer menu, that was impressive too!

The shortened visit to Manifest at least give me the opportunity to visit Message in a Bottle as well.

A bit closer to the hotel, and already familiar, were BrewDog Mitte, and the Mikkeller bar. In the latter I finally had the an opportunity to have my Mikkeller Passport stamped!

Budapest & Berlin Trip

It’s—finally and hopefully—almost time to take another trip!

The recent reinstatement of the direct sleeper train from Brussels to Wien was too good of an opportunity to pass up, and a very convenient—and safe—way to get to Budapest, the main destination of this trip. Of course I will also spend some time in Wien itself, and I’ll be taking the long route back, spending a two more nights in Berlin, and a couple of hours in Hamburg.

Not surprisingly, this trip I’ll be collecting a couple of new stamps in my BrewDog Beer Visa again—at BrewDog Budapest and BrewDog St. Pauli—but this time the first stamp in my Mikkeller Passport as well. Of course, wherever I go, I’ll try to visit some local breweries and beer bars, and enjoy the the local specialities as much as I can!

Rotterdam After the Borders Opened Again

It was already a while ago since I’ve last taken a train, quite possibly it was my trip to Breda, but finally I found myself in one again, albeit quite an empty train, and masked all the time… But the borders are open again, even for tourism, so I decided to go to Rotterdam again, where a new BrewDog bar opened, quite courageously in the middle of the corona crisis.

Fourth day in Berlin

Fourth day in Berlin. Mainly recovering from the third day (breakfast at Cô Cô was helpful, as was our dinner at Altes Europa), but also check off some more bars from our list (Stone Brewing Tap Room & Mikkeller), and say our goodbyes to BrewDog Berlin Mitte.

Second day in Berlin

Our second day in Berlin was all about BrewDog’s first European AGM. You can’t start a day like that without a proper foundation, so we started off with a real Berliner döner kebap at Rüyam Gemüse Kebab!

First day in Berlin

After a broken down ICE train, we arrived in Berlin an hour later than planned. Still, after checking into our easyHotel Berlin, we had time for a quick drink at BrewDog Berlin Mitte, before having a delicious dinner at Chicago Williams BBQ.

Day 6 – Roma II

On the second and last day in Rome, we first visited the Palazzo Massimo Alle Terme to see their nice collection of Roman statues, mosaics, and frescoes.

After some pizza al taglio, we then went to see the Ara Pacis, and the Claudius exhibition in the same museum.

West of the Tiber, we checked out coffee place Pergamino and beer bar Be.Re., that strangely enough seemed to be two parts of the same business…

A last visit to BrewDog Roma to have our beer visas stamped, and we had a couple of beers as well of course.

After a excruciatingly slowly served dinner, we quickly picked up our bag at our B’n’B, and eventually still managed to catch our train to Napoli.

Day 4 – Firenze

Today we left Bologna early in the morning to spend the day in Firenze. Starting with another NannyBag drop off, in a hotel this time, where they even lent us an umbrella for the day when it started pouring down right when we were about to leave.

The tickets for the Galleria dell’Accademia we’re already sold out when I tried to book them two months ago, and the line at the ticket booth went all around the block, so we just had a look at the David in front of the Palazzo Vecchio instead.

After not even being able to sit down for coffee, and having our panino co i’ lampredotto standing up as well, we decided to visit BrewDog Firenze a bit earlier than planned, just to get out of the rain! After a couple of beers and a nice chat with the staff and other beer geeks, it stopped raining, so we could continue our tour of Firenze.

We also visited the Palazzo Pitti, were the lines were remarkably short for a museum with great interior decorations, and paintings from both Flemish and Italian masters.

To conclude the afternoon we went to Archea Brewery, which turned out to be more a nice bar, than an actual brewery.

For dinner we went to Osteria Del Cinghiale Bianco to try two other florentine specialties: papardelle al Cinghiale and bistecca alla Fiorentina. It tasted as good as it looks!

After the exchanging the umbrella for our bag again, we took the Frecciabianca train to Rome.

After arriving at our B’n’B Rhome86, we nipped out again for a nightcap at BrewDog Roma.

Day 3 – Bologna

On our day in Bologna we had our first real Italian breakfast: caffè and some sweet pastry standing at the bar.

After that we headed into town, but we seemed to have forgotten to account for Monday being a closing day for some museums… Still, we enjoyed visiting the Biblioteca Comunale dell’Archiginnasio and it’s Teatro Anatomico and the part of the Museo Civico Archeologico that was still open.

For lunch, we had to have a piadina at La Tua Piadina, and we didn’t regret that decision at all!

After spending some time in the student neighbourhood and the farmers’ market that happened to be there, we went to one of the two Zapap TapRooms.

For dinner we went to Ranzani 13, a name we knew from events at Moeder Lambic and BXLBeerFest. We were quite—positively—surprised to be served something quite different from the pizzas usually served at those events!

In the evening we went to beer bar Il Punto—they surely love Belgian beers there—and BrewDog Bologna again. We didn’t understand much of the stand-up comedians performing, but the atmosphere and beers were great!