Berlin’s after dark scene is slowly recovering as Covid-19 lockdown measures continue to relax. It’s going to be a while, though, before the city’s legendary clubs – Berghain, Watergate, Sisyphos et al – properly open their doors to revellers again. Alas, yes, but Berlin’s no one trick pony when it comes to nightlife. Now the long summer nights have set in, and that social distancing is the new norm, it’s a great opportunity to explore some of the city’s beer gardens and spacious outdoor drinking spots. From the trendy to the traditional, here’s our pick of the best...
Run by the same crew behind Sisyphos, Klunkerkranich is an off-beat shanty-town of a rooftop bar – perched at the apex of the Neukölln Arkaden’s multi-storey parking lot. Ride the elevator as high as it goes, walk up to the rooftop and immerse yourself in a wilderness of upcycled wood, sprawling plants and dishevelled trendy folk. There’s concerts, DJ sets, and other cultural offerings, and sand pits to deposit your kids in, too, so you, now blissfully childless, can kick back and enjoy the view – it’s a doozy.
A well-documented gem, and, even at over 100 years old, a breath of fresh air in an after dark scene so dominated by electronic music. Clärchens is a survivor: Nazism, allied bombs, and an East German state better known for the tightness of its border controls than the looseness of its hips couldn’t stop this Weimar-era dancehall swinging. Their terrace out front is a lovely spot to while away an afternoon in the close-knit streets of the Scheunenviertel (Berlin’s former Jewish quarter), and they’ve recently revamped their entire menu for their post-covid reopening.
BRLO were already making waves before they opened their brewhouse, crafted out of 38 shipping containers, back in 2016. With a place to call their own they’ve since become one of the central players in Berlin’s exploding craft beer scene. Their huge beer garden, complete with a food truck, sausage grill, ice-cream stand and outdoor games, has swiftly become one of the best in the city. The food is on point, but more importantly so is the beer. Try the pale ale or the Berliner Weisse.
Not so much off the beaten track, this one, as off the radar altogether, and proof that Berlin has a lot to offer those willing to push beyond the big five central districts – in this case, far beyond, to Schmargendorf. The Rheingauer Weinbrunnen’s formula is simple: good, cheap wine, bubbly service, and charming surrounds. Beerhall-esque benches and tables line an elevated patio above picturesque Rudesheimer Platz, all orbiting a central latticed kiosk churning out chilled bottles of grape goodness to a rabid local fanbase. Great for picnics and lazy Sundays.
Birgit & Bier
Tucked away off Schlesische Straße where the Landwehr Canal meets the River Spree in Kreuzberg, Birgit & Bier is a great choice for those who are having a hard time with the club scene’s enforced hiatus. Though their opening hours have been limited, this carnivalesque open-air club/beer garden is still putting on DJ sets throughout the weekend and their ‘adult playground’ outdoor space is as quirky as ever. Come for beers, fresh fruit sodas, pizzas, and a (responsible) boogie.
First opening its gates in 1837, Prater is Berlin’s oldest beer gardens and still one of the city’s best. A true German spot in every sense, it’s simple and to the point: a huge patio; several different styles of home-branded beer; rapid-fire service; and a roaring grill serving up some top-notch Wurst. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
A bustling spot with plenty of atmosphere tucked away at the south of Viktoria Park in Kreuzberg. Split over two levels – a sunken patio garden, and a roof terrace overlooking the drinkers below – Golgatha, like Prater, is old school. Several bars, inside and out, serve up well-priced big brand beers while Biergarten food staples (and a decent selection of salads too) come sizzling from the sizeable grill station. They rig up TVs and big screens for sporting events too.
For those after a slightly less ‘Berlin’ and more traditional Bavarian beer garden vibe, the Zollpackhof ticks the boxes with aplomb. It’s a beautiful spot – overlooking the river Spree near Hauptbahnhof and affording stunning views of the Federal Chancellery building and Berlin’s government quarter opposite – and is well shaded by a regal chestnut tree that provides great respite if the mercury starts heading north in a hurry. There’s Augustiner on tap, and typical south German/Austrian fare – Weißwurst included.
Though it’s technically in Potsdam, we’d be aggrieved not to include the Meierei on this list. The brewery is a beauty – a refurbished pumping station tucked away in the hinterlands of the New Gardens behind Cecilienhof Palace – and has a stunning, sun-drenched patio and beer garden right on the Havel river. In the garden they serve up simple food – sausages (naturally), boulette, fries, pretzels etc. – and delicious house-brewed beer. Grab yourself a Helles (a light lager), head past the benches, and take a spot on the small lawn directly overlooking the water.
Berlin’s after dark scene has been rocked by the enforced closures mandated by Coronavirus lockdown protocols. While restaurants, bars and beer gardens have been allowed to reopen, the city’s clubs will remain closed for the foreseeable future. To try and ride out the crisis, so they might stave of closure and once again welcome partygoers in the (fingers crossed) near future, many of the city’s legendary clubs – About Blank, Renate, Sisyphos, Kater Blau and more – have converted their outdoor areas into great little (and large) beer gardens. Stop in for a drink or several and give them your support.