Situated on the wonderfully named Hot Dog Sausage Gate, The Castle is surrounded by the equally impressive wedding cake book ends of Karl Marx Allee. You can sit in the window and admire the twin towers either side of Frankfurter Tor, watch the traffic and the people going by. The old GDR didn’t get much right, ending up having to build a wall to keep their own folk from leaving, but this is seriously impressive city planning on a grand scale.
The Castle doesn’t quite live up to it’s surroundings actually. It feels more like a converted Top Shop with it’s floor to ceiling windows and mezzannine floor. If you took the bar away and replaced it with hamburger servers it could easily be Maccy D’s. And this followed a theme with quite a few of the bars I visited in Berlin; with their international flavour, they really could have been anywhere.
I counted 49 taps in use, which is pretty impressive and on a par with Vocation’s Underground Assembly in my home town. The adverts all say there’s fifty, maybe one had run off when I went. There’s a live beer menu on the website, powered by BeerMenus, and although it was focussed on well known brewers, if you couldn’t find something to suit you then you don’t like beer. If you really don’t like beer then you can have coffee, and if you want food you bring your own, or buy some Pringles out of a Pringle vending machine.
The staff were friendly and helpful, the place was pleasantly decorated, the toilets were clean and well appointed and the beer was good. I tried Einbar Rise Up, a Black 6.5% IPA that was rather nice in a liquoricey sort of way at €4.8 for 0.4L. The 5.1% House Pils was much cheaper at €3.5 for half a litre; very nice, just nothing you couldn’t get anywhere in Berlin, but it wouldn’t suit a British Lager Boy with a taste like that.
Only thing was, despite the many positives, it just wasn’t doing it for me, probably because it felt more like drinking in a night club than a pub.
As well as The Castle at Frankfurter Tor in Friedrichshain, there’s also another branch in Mitte, Berlin.