Type of Berlin Beer: Berliner Weisse
Every other week we explore one of the many varieties of beer you’re likely to come across in Berlin. We’ll explain its distinctive characteristics and teach you a little brewing history. Soon you’ll be impressing your friends with your ability to work the subject of yeast into just about any conversation. Finally we’ll give you a few suggestions on where you can do some research on your own. That’s right. Homework. Delicious, delicious homework.
The taste: Sweet or tart
The color: Bright red or green
The body: light, effervescent
The Berliner Weisse is a wheat beer usually served with a syrup mixed in that makes it both sweet and colorful. Berliner Weisse is so bright and fizzy that you might forget you are actually drinking beer. At three percent alchohol this is the perfect summer companion. Although other varities exist, the two most popular types are ordered simply by their color, red or green. The most popular brand you’ll find in Berlin is the Berliner Kindle Weiss.
Historically this is Berlin’s most popular drink. Even Napolean gave it a try when he sacked Prussia in the early 19th century. He called it the “champagne of the north.” Theories abound about where it was first brewed but surely brewers from Hamburg made it quite popular in the 1500s. Perhaps the immigration of French Huegenauts into Berlin after the Thirty Years War helped boost sales as well. They would have been familiar with these fruit forward style mixes after passing through Belgium. Berliner Weisse also makes for a passable alternative to wine.
Rarely do you order a Berliner Weisse without syrup. Your server will likely try to talk you out of it if you try. So that leaves you with a choice. Red or green? The red one is mixed with a raspberry syrup and is right up there with most sodas on the sweetness scale. The green syrup is made from a forest herb called waldermeister. It tastes like, well, waldermeister. Although difficult to describe it is often compared to candies like green Jolly Ranchers or green gummy bears.
Since Berliner Weisse is a summer drink best enjoyed in the open air, here are some outdoor spots in and around Berlin to explore.
Berlin certainly has a lot of beach bars for a landlocked city famous for its dreary winters and frequent rain. When the sun does shine, you’ll find the city’s residents taking advantage of the weather and flocking to any stretch of water they can find. Plenty of crafty bar owners will double their capacity by surrounding their premise with beach chairs and some even truck in loads of sand as well. The most popular summertime destination by far is the Badeschiff, a former shipping container turned swimming pool floating in the Spree river. If you’re not in the mood for a swim then you can grab a Berliner Weisse at the bar here and relax on the sandy shoreline.
Location: Eichenstraße 4
If you need a break from traffic and graffiti, take a trip to nearby Potsdam. When you’re finished taking in the palaces and gardens go for a swim in the one of the many beautiful lakes or grab a beer in the historical downtown. At the Alter Stadtwächer beer garden you’ll find one full page of the menu dedicated to Berliner Weisse and all its many colorful cousins. Some adventurous varities include peach, blackberry and rhubarb.
Location: Schopenhauerstraße 33
Linking the most popular nightlife areas of Berlin, Kreuzberg and Freidrichshain, the Oberbaum Brucke makes the perfect place to get your night started. Thanks to Berlin’s relaxed view on drinking on the streets, you can pop into a nearby cornerstore, or spätkauf, and head up the bridge for gorgeous sunset views over the Spree river. You’ll likely hear some bands playing as well as more and more buskers take advantage of all the foot traffic. If you’re planning a big night out a sugary Berliner Weisse and a sunset is a great way to start.
Location: between Oberbaumstrasse and Warschauer Strasse along the Spree river