Bierbar Alkopole ran out and out as my favourite bar in Berlin. The nearest thing I found to an English pub. Was it real Berlin? Or was it a gimmicky tourist trap underneath the Alexandeplatz Bahnhof? It’s hard to tell in a city which over the last hundred years has been devastated from within and without, and had more faces than Europe’s biggest Town hall clock
Looking at the same, changing, faces who were in there day in day out, speaking Berlin and drinking the local tipple, I reckon this was a little part of real Berlin. In case you’re wondering, roughly half (0.3L) of beer and a near double (40ml) Nordhäuser Doppelkorn, a traditional distilled German grain spirit, that isn’t Vodka, €5.50. The Doppelkorn is 38% ABV.
I think you could choose which beer you wanted on the pint and chaser deal, they had six on draught; Radeberger Pilsener, Märkischer Landmann, Gessner Dunkles Bock, Allgäuer Büble Edelweißbier, Berliner Kindl Jubiläums Pilsner and Duckstein. Prices were either €4.5 50 or €5 per 0.5L. For those still buying petrol in gallons that’s a little bit more than a pint. Everything came in brand appropriate glassware too.
I could have drank the Radeberger Pislner all day and for ever. The crisp taste, balanced malt and subtle dry bitterness did it for me. Almost addictive. And yes! You can drink all day, opening hours, dependant on day of the week from 1000 till 0100hrs.
Par for the Berlin course, standing up to drink was not an option, you sat at the bar or you sat at a table and they served you. The lovely staff wouldn’t even pass a drink over the heads of those at the bar and professionally delivered it to your table. Not that there were many tables, like half a dozen at most. Not that you could have stood up without obstructing everyone else neither. I reckon they could only seat 30 inside, at best, and every inch of the bar counter had been engineered to maximise the number of people seated around it, even down to seats in the corner where someone had to get up to let you out.
Beyond the smart embroidered shirts formally proclaiming you were being served by Mrs ‘So and so’, I’ve no idea what the servers were called and they hadn’t a clue what my name was. Thing was, every time you popped in they knew instantly who you were and you knew them. They knew everyone else too, especially their regulars who never even asked, their drink just got placed in front of them.
I’d been dying to try a Berlinner Weise in Berlin. The esteemed Michael Jackson reckoned it was the eponymous dogs’, stating Woodruff (sweet scented bedstraw) was the syrup of choice to mix with this low ABV, sourish Wheatbeer. Although the staff, being more mature, were not as fluent in English as in the trendier places, we were strictly warned off the Waldmeister with a grimace and shake of the head. Black Currant is the preferred option these days it seems, closely followed by Elderflower. The Berliner Kindl bottled beer comes in it’s own chalice with a glass stirrer cum drinking straw.
You knew you were in a local place for local people with all the ‘quirky’ bits, hackneyed comments on the beer menu and the images on the bog doors, and above the urinals. Which door would you go through, Ladies and Gents?
The spotless toilets had a twist before you even got there. You could enter the bar, which is essentially in a German railway arch (actually a useful cuboid space), from the very busy Alexanderplatz Bahnhof (Regional & local trains, U & S-Bahn) side or from the street outside (tram interchange) so to prevent casual use there was a fancy locked wrought iron gate leading downstairs to the toilets.
At first it seems locked and then it opens by magic. Three Radebergers in, you don’t realise someone’s pressing a button behind the bar. After a while one of the locals, recognising a fellow drinker, points to the lowly positioned latch and nods. Hey Presto! Privileged access. Only non-drinker I saw let through was a lady with a little kiddie, who politely asked first.
I’ve no idea what Alkopole means, but there’s lots of words that sum this place up; warm, welcoming, cosy, intimate, friendly, characterful, unpretentious, decent German beer. I liked it, I liked it a lot. Radeberger bitte, nicely bitter. Sie finden uns direkt im Bahnhof Alexanderplatz.