Berlin: Lemke Brewery

Hop flower painted in the Lemke Brewery, Mitte Berlin.
Lemke Brewery in Berlin, off of Hackescher Markt, has a modern, sophisticated decor.

Our adventure in Germany had two days, three nights in Berlin, Mitte Berlin to be specific.  We entered by train in the dark, so our compasses were a bit off kilter as we left our hotel in quest of some dinner.  Assured that there were eateries within a few blocks we headed in the direction stated.  It didn’t take long to find the Lemke Brewery Restaurant on the far side of the railroad tracks.  It is a popular place with long communal tables packed tight, the high ceilings amplifying the voices of revelers into a cacophony of happy noise.  We sat ourselves down at one end of a huge table, with another couple at the opposite end already eating their meal. Friends from our group joined us after about 10 minutes, making us a four top together and a vast middle of the table empty to the other couple.  Having been guided and coddled for the earlier part of the week we were left to our own devises in this foreign land for the first time, what could go wrong? Right?

Our server, thankfully speaking English, shot down my first two choices of dinner, both were no longer available that night.  I was back to the menu and quite hungry.  We ordered a flight of beers.  When they arrived the server took the drink orders of our friends and began taking our meal choices.  There must have been some misunderstanding when I ordered my meal and two glasses of the remaining two beers listed on the board.  I was asked if I spoke English?  Surprised, as I have never been accused of misusing my native tongue,  I simply said yes.  My friend repeated my order in English and he wrote it down this time.  Was I confused or him?  As he returned to the bar we burst out laughing as the thought of us not speaking English was too funny to ignore.  Not the speediest service, we began to wonder if I had been too demanding without realizing it, when our meals and the remaining two beers arrived.  For a few minute we silently tucked in with gusto as we were very hungry.  Our server came up on side of the table and apologized to me, I am sure I was the only one who could hear him.  Heck, I had dismissed the situation before my first bite, but I appreciated it. My bratwurst, red cabbage and fried potato dinner, with a salad before hand, was excellent.  Typical German fare with nicely flavored, smooth and well balanced beers.

The flight of six encompassed their portfolio with the Original, a Vienna lager, and Hopfen Weisse, a Weizenbock, ordered separately.

Lagers and ales comprise the Lemke Brewery's flight of deliciously smooth, well balanced and flavorful beers.
Lagers and ales comprise the Lemke Brewery’s flight of deliciously smooth, well balanced and flavorful beers.

The Flight of Beers

  • Bohemian Pilsner – 5% ABV, 35 IBU Bold herbal and floral aromas were quite surprising and lovely.  The nutty tasting malts were perfectly balanced with the herbal finish of the hops.
  • 030 Pale Ale – 5% ABV 30 IBU Here we are in Germany with an American style beer, go figure. Citrus and sweet floral aromas give way to a lovely combination of toast and grapefruit finishing cleanly with no lasting grapefruit pith bitterness.
  • Weizen – 5.5% ABV, 15 IBU Ideal for the Autumn season, the nose was a spicy Fall fruit compote with a bit of vanilla.  Banana, in texture and flavor opens the palate with a lovely mouth full of cinnamon toast.
  • India Pale Ale – 6.5% ABV, 60 IBU Tropical fruit aroma, pine hops greets the palate followed by pastry-like malts and more fruit before finishing with the pine bitters in a lingering, pleasant finish.
  • Imperial IPA – 10% ABV, 75 IBU Complex malt and hop aromas introduce this powerfully built beer seemingly large in flavor, mouthfeel and finish with tropical fruit, honeysuckle and nuts vying for your attention; it packs a punch too at 10% ABV.
  • Imperial Stout – 11% ABV, 70 IBU This thick, dark beer with a light, cream colored lace head smells of vanilla and spice with toast and ripe fruit at the front and middle of the palate.  Herbal notes compliment throughout tying the toast and peppercorn finish to the whole.

The ‘Extra’ Beers

  • Hopfen Weisse – 7% ABV, 35 IBU Weizenbock style with intense orange and lemon/lime aroma and palate in this pale malt beer.  Not as complex as the other beers, but good.
  • Original – 5.4% ABV, 26 IBU (Vienna lager style) Dark malts with chocolate and pumpernickel flavors dominate the palate with mild, fruity hops mingling throughout the medium bodied palate and gently lingering finish.  This is my favorite of their beers.

We walked back to the hotel without a problem; Hackescher Markt is truly right around the corner and across the railroad tracks.

There is a small park next to our hotel on Rosen Strasse on the opposite side of our hotel from the shops and restaurants.  We discovered it by strolling around after dinner the second night.  I noticed some objects inside the fence that resembled people and odd walls.  When I found the entrance to the park I walked in, using the flashlight on my phone to better view the statues.  Prior to World War II this neighborhood was a Jewish community, the ‘Old’ Synagogue stood there.  In early 1943 Jewish men married to non-Jewish women were rounded up to be deported.  The wives and children staged a peaceful protest over a few months leading to all of the men being released to their families; this is known as the ‘Block of Women‘.  By the time the war ended that building was destroyed.  The statues are representative of that trauma and the law disallowing Jews to sit on benches during the war.  The surrounding trees were literally full of pigeons roosting for the night. My intrusion caused quite the stirring and cooing amongst them, kind of eerie actually.

Day two in Berlin we had lunch at the other Lemke location, the menu didn’t have the meal I wanted to try the first night, so still no luck, but I enjoyed a half-pint of Original with my lunch before touring Charlottenburg Palace with new friends from Idaho and my darling Hubby.

That night for dinner our entire group went back to the original Lemke location, so close to our hotel.  We ate on the back patio under a tent, with heaters and smaller tables.  Dinner was pigs knuckles for each of us; it was delicious!  Again, I enjoyed my half-pint of Original with my meal.  Nearly everyone around me had full pints.  Our server from the first night was busy and didn’t notice us, but when we left I made sure to thank him, in German: ‘Danke schon, Caio’ and saw a big smile for my effort.  A fitting end to our week long Ag-based tour.

All my life I have heard that German beers are served ‘room temperature’ or ‘warm’.  These beers are on tap, they have to be cold enough to pull.  They arrived at our table at a temperature suitable to drink and actually taste them.  Bottled beer is also in coolers.  I believe our US culture serves beer so cold it can’t be tasted; which could be why our mass-produced beers and light beers are so popular despite their lack of flavor.

Definitely worth a visit if you find yourself in Berlin.  Cheers!

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