Time for a beer!

Lurking on most most Berlin bar menus, waiting to surprise the uninitiated, is the Berliner Weiße:


A glass of Berliner Weisse


This is a wheat beer unique to Berlin which undergoes a lactic fermentation to produce its characteristically sour taste. As a result, it's almost always served with a shot (Schuß - 20ml in a 330ml serving of beer) of syrup to sweeten it - either raspberry (Himbeer) or woodruff (Waldmeister). Often you'll see them referred to just as 'rot' (red - raspberry) and 'grün' (green - woodruff). Napoleon's troops apparently called it the champagne of the north; whether they put raspberry and woodruff syrup in their champagne too wasn't recorded. Actually (more seriously), I once overheard a tour guide saying that the practise of putting syrup in Berliner Weiße comes from the Huguenots who came to Berlin in the late 1600s, though I suspect this isn't true and that it's actually a more modern practise (it seems by the 19th century they were drinking it with a shot of Schnaps or Kümmel, a caraway spirit; I'd guess the sweet syrup idea may not have become common until the early 20th century, but that really is just an educated guess), which neither the Huguenots nor Napoleon's troops would have heard of.
Berliner Weiße is low in alcohol (about 2.8%) and many find it a refreshing summer drink...or a refreshing winter drink, I suppose.

From Bavaria, in the south of Germany, comes the Hefeweizen:


König Ludwig Hefeweizen


This is also a wheat beer - Weizen being wheat, Hefe being yeast, which is what gives the beer its cloudy appearance. Its flavour is slightly fruity, with hints of bananas, though there's no actual fruit flavouring in it like the fruit syrup in Berliner Weiße. It's a more robust kind of beer, with more alcohol - usually around 5.5%. You'll also often see a Dunkelweizen (a dark version) and Kristallweizen (a filtered version, sometimes served with a slice of lemon).

There are of course many other kinds of beer commonly served in Berlin, both brewed here and elsewhere - you may find this post becomes the first in a series...

Comments

Here are some places I like very much, that brew their own, usually with seasonal specialties!
Brewbaker http://www.brewbaker.de/, under the arches a few steps from S-Bahn Bellevue is my favourite both in terms of beer and friendly atmosphere - as a woman going alone, I feel very comfortable here. It's also not a tourist hot spot. (You can also eat very well here.) As well as the usual pilsner-type, there's always a darker beer, often changing with the seasons, and sometimes a stout!.

At Südstern, http://www.brauhaus-suedstern.de/, I once had a fabulous cherry beer. Not at all impregnated with cherry syrup or any such nonsense! - a very subtle and fruity summer variety. Take your beer here out the back to the small seating area backing onto the pathway into the park at Hasenheide - where the African drug dealers hang-out, harmlessly enough! - in the bushes!

In Friedrichshain I recommend Hops and Barley, http://www.hopsandbarley-berlin.de/ on Wühlischstrasse in the now hip Boxhagener platz area, but it's not infected by that. The place is done out in tiles like a butcher's shop- I must ask sometime whether it was one. Seating on the street is on very basic benches , and I like to watch the trams go by.

Those are my 3 recommendations to you for your next visit to Berlin , as a thankyou for your very interesting site and great pictures. I'm from London but have been living here now for 4 years, and I really appreciate your approach and research.
Helen

Thanks Helen, those all sound great! I keep planning on writing something that goes a bit deeper into the world of beer in Berlin, so your suggestions are the perfect incentive to finally make a start on that. It's certainly always fun to have something new to explore, which is probably why my list of things to do keeps on growing!

Nice to hear that you've been enjoying the site, it makes it all the more worthwhile. Thanks again for the suggestions, I'll have to buy you a beer sometime!

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