Tartiflette is actually a French dish, but it’s also a staple at the Christmas market, that under normal circumstances, would have been right in front of my door for the past month. Chêne, a Belgian dubbel by Brussels brewery La Source, fits nicely with the nuttiness of the reblochon cheese, and with the the caramelisation of the bacon.
For dessert I went with oliebollen, a typical Dutch New Year’s Eve delicacy. Unlike the Belgian deep fried dough balls smoutebollen, these have raisins and currants in them, which I off course soaked in beer first!
With this sugar and fat overload, I had to choose a beer with enough character to withstand this sensory overload, so I picked OverWorks‘ Hocus Pocus, a 10.1% sour stout with raspberries and cocoa nibs, aged in Speyside whisky barrels. It was like having a raspberry-chocolate sauce on the side!
No hours spent on trains and buses on Christmas Day this year, the Corona restrictions and common sense made it impossible to travel to the Netherlands to spend Christmas with my family… Instead, I just made the best of it alone at home, trying to recreate a family Christmas as much as possible.
In a few blog posts I’ve already mentioned I’m a BrewDog Equity Punk. This means I’ve invested a couple of pounds in BrewDog, and own some equity shares in the Scottish craft beer brewer and bar operator. Since they’ve just launched another round of Equity for Punks, and it’s announced to be the very last, I thought I’d share a thing or two about it, and maybe entice you to seize this final opportunity to become an Equity Punk yourself!
Of course, I’m not being entirely selfless here: if you invest using the button below this post, there might be a couple of beers and goodies in it for me…
After a good night’s sleep in my own bed, while enjoying a lovely hearty breakfast atFrank.—something that was really hard to find near my hotel in Berlin—I’m reflecting on the last couple of days.
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 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!
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?
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!
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.
After those breweries and taprooms, and before visiting some more, I needed some sustenance, and that came in the form of this delicious Kalbsleber Berliner Art, at GaststätteDeichgraf.
I then proceeded to the next brewery, Eschenbräu, but their beer garden was full, and there was already a line of people waiting for a seat, so I decided to immediately move on to the next stop.
Luckily, there was still plenty of space inside at Vagabund Brauerei, so I enjoyed a couple of beers there. Afterward I went looking for their new Kesselhaus which was supposed to be not too far from the taproom, but somehow I couldn’t find it… As it turned out, I was mere meters from spotting it, but I’ll have to check it out next time.
The last to-visit place was the Schneeeule Salon für Berliner Bierkultur, the perfect place to drink some Berliner Weiße in the company of the brewer herself! I wasn’t even aware that this place existed before my trip—understandably, since they didn’t even have their official opening yet—but I was very happy to be able to end my evening here!
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, andBräugier, and there are some more to come after dinner!
I felt like chicken tonight—not the sauce popular in the nineties—so I went to Die Henne, where they basically serve one dish: half a crispy fried chicken. Just add some Kartoffelsalat, and that’s a meal!
Tonight’s bars were HOME Bar, and the best place to end the night—at least that’s what I’ve been told—Protokoll. There I met up with friends I already knew, and friends I had just met, and I stayed there until half past three…
I started the day with coffee and an almond croissant at Bonanza Coffee. I visited their roastery café before, on a very rainy last day during a previous trip, but their espresso bars are even nicer to visit.
Since I had already visited most regular museums in Berlin, I decided to go underground this time, and went on a Berliner Unterwelten tour. The theme of the tour was Dark Worlds, giving us an insight in the life of the average Berlin citizen during the WWII air raids that destroyed up to 80% of the city centre. Unfortunately, taking photos was not allowed, so you’ll have to take the tour yourself, if you want to see how it was…
Originally I planned to have lunch at Mogg, since I had heard good things about this place, but apparently they only accept cash, and I didn’t have any. So I went for dessert straight away, at Samy’s Berliner Pfannkuchen Cafe, for a Pfannkuchen, the doughnut-like pastry typical for the city. Although my salted caramel version was slightly less typical…
From then on, I slowly moved onto craft beer territory again, but since Kaschk is both an espresso bar and a craft beer bar—how cool is that?—I started my afternoon with another espresso macchiato.
The remainder of the afternoon I visited Lager Lager and the Biererei. The first one is actually a beer shop, but luckily they also serve serve beers—draught as well—to drink at the terrace!
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.
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 BrewDogBeer Visaagain—at BrewDog Budapestand BrewDog St. Pauli—but this time the first stamp in my Mikkeller Passportas 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!
On the first day of August, Misery Beer Co. opened. It’s a bit hard to get to by public transport, as a lot of places in the Ardennes tend to be, so it was very convenient there was a special bus going from Brussels to the manor of Misery.
Due to the ever changing COVID-19 regulations, the opening party was a bit smaller than envisioned, and spread over two days. Once there, all necessary measures were taken to let us see the brewery and enjoy their beers in safety. And enjoy them, I did!