There are certain things visitors to BallinEurope expect and when a Final Four hits Berlin, one of those is most definitely beer. Here’s Emmet Ryan’s guide to enjoying the nightlife away from the Mercedes-Benz Arena
First off, to state the obvious, this list is in no way endorsed by Euroleague although don’t be surprised if Jordi Bertomeu uses this for advice when he’s out enjoying himself between games this weekend.
As a general rule, if you just want nice simple beer and to keep it easy all weekend, go to a pub and have whatever beer is on tap. The pubs on this list are for people who want to be a bit more adventurous but that approach is also harder on your pocket. A lot of folk in town just want to get merry on a budget so the simple rule is to avoid the obvious tourist traps, which really if you are anywhere other than the area around the Brandenburg Gate is easy to spot. If you are near the Brandenburg Gate here’s how you spot a tourist trap: Everything, absolutely everything.
The simplest bottled beer option is Augistiner Helles. It’s a simple affordable lager that goes down easy and almost everywhere has it.
All of the bars listed here are either in Kreuzberg, which is really near the arena or Neukölln, which isn’t too far but you are probably not walking it. While there are plenty of pubs in Berlin that open essentially all hours, the bulk of the better pubs tend to only really get going around 18.00 local time. Most nights, you will still get served until around midnight or 1am depending on the haunt. On a Friday it’s a whole lot later, on a Saturday…well that’s the only night of the week I’ve never closed a bar in Berlin. That said, Sunday is much trickier with the vast bulk of pubs shutting up shop at midnight. Smoking is legal in Berlin pubs and it’s entirely at the pub’s discretion although most allow it.
And now, to the bars. To make life easier for you all I have included Google Maps links to each bar.
Location: Wrangelstrasse 47, Kreuzberg
Typically opening at 19.00 this is a classy, classy, joint. You will go broke here very fast so my advice is a quiet one here early as either your first or second drink. It’s all cocktails and you have to knock to get let in, yes you are in hipsterville, but the staff here do some filthy good drinks. There’s no menu, you give them a vague idea of what you like and they return with something magical. It’s also not an accident that I put the full street address in here along with the Google Maps link, it’s not the most obvious entrance.
Location: Markthalle Neun, Kreuzberg
Ok, this is a little trickier as you can only go in during the opening hours of Markthalle Neun, at least that was what I found, but these lads are Berlin’s best legitimate craft brewery. It’s in the door, down the back, and to the left.
Location: Eisenbahnstrasse, Kreuzberg
Right across the road from Markthalle Neun this is just about as chill a spot as you are going to find in Berlin. It’s largely candle-lit and while the selection isn’t amazing the prices are really reasonable. It is also well located as a launch-pad or finishing spot for a pub crawl around Kreuzberg, which I’ll get to in a bit…both literally and in this article.
Location: Sorauer Strasse, Kreuzberg
For my money the most reliable bar in terms of selection, this place has a fine range of taps with a mix of loacl and international beers. I asked if they had wifi one time and a barfly turned to me just to say “No, IPA”.
Location: Skalitzer Strasse, Kreuzberg
Local drinkers are definitely divided on this spot but I really can’t see why as it’s got a fine selection of beers and the craft draft on offer, there’s only one, is usually smooth and at a reasonable price. This spot also does cocktails if you are rich/determined to get hammered going poor.
Location: Spreewaldplatz, Kreuzberg
Excuse me for a moment…
Undoubtedly the spiritual home of BallinEurope’s hangover or rather the cause thereof in Berlin, this is just a sweet spot. It’s a bar that does cocktails, many of which are bourbon based, really creative hot dogs, has a good selection of bottled beers including Heiden Peters, and it has the best bartender BiE has ever met in Birute who is one dope as fuck mixologist. This is the bar, above all others, on this list you should try to go to.
Location: Boddinstrasse, Neukölln
Most of the pubs listed so far work best as part of a crawl but could do the job solo for the night. Twinpigs is, for my money, the bar most suited to an all-nighter for anyone looking to set up shop for the night. The set-up is solid, good mix of cocktails and beers, and some rather smart staff. Also, gotta show some local love, there was a barmaid from Offaly in Ireland working here last time and it’s my duty for international diplomacy to check if she still is this time around.
Location: Wesserstrasse, Neukölln
I’d be lying if I said I am wild on this spot but that’s only in comparison to how much I like what everything else on this list offers. Yuma is basically for someone younger than me and it’s fine but the only reason it makes the list here is if you want somewhere to try before Twinpigs in Neukölln you can start here and work you way back via Syndikat which doesn’t get a full entry here as I was too drunk to remember my short stop there last time.
There are a few options. If you are staying in Neukölln for the night I probably would do the Yuma-Syndikat one in each route before heading to Twinpigs although if you have a few in your group just head straight to Twinpigs as the more folk you have along a stretch like that, the more it feels like herding cats.
The far more direct option is the Kreuzberg crawl. The core is the trio of Hopfenreich, John Muir, and Bourbon Dogs. If you are starting after 19.00 go to Schwarze Traube first, then Hopefenreich, John Muir, Bourbon Dogs, and back to Voegelschen in that order. That said, if you are crazy enough to kick off early…go Hopfenreich first then to Schwarze Traube (opens at 19.00 most days), Voegelschen, then hook back out to John Muir and Bourbon Dogs with the last/second last of those interchangeable. I’m more a fan of the former but hey, let’s live a little.
The OTHER bar
Location: Parts unknown
Y’all were never, ever, going to let this slide. For those of you unaware, CSKA Moscow traditionally takes over a bar at every Final Four. In Madrid last year it was really obvious and quite near the arena and, nope, didn’t go in. This year, I have no idea where it is but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t extremely tempted to go in, down one vodka, run away, and tell the tale to my nephews of their brave uncle. Also, international diplomacy. If I find it…we’ll see.