Webster Brauhaus, Duisburg
A great brauhaus in the heart of Duisburg, they brew their own beer – blond (Pils) and braun (Alt) – on the premises, which go well with the amazing food on offer from the varied menu (I recommend the Holstein schnitzel). The original copper brew kettles are in the middle of the bar, and the newer, modern vats are available to see downstairs. There is a lovely atmosphere within the bar, great staff, superb food and beer that is as unique as this brauhaus. You can also buy the beer bottled to take home with you.
Meierei Brauhaus, Potsdam
This beer hall and garden on Lake Jungfernsee is in a former dairy. The owner, Jurgen, will show you around the brewery before you settle in for the main attraction: enjoying the refreshing, fruity, light beers. Can you taste the difference between Dairy Summer Beer and Dairy Hell? Or try something usual: Radler with Fanta or Diesel with Coke. The beer garden, overlooking the lake, provides spectacular views and a hearty portion of German sausage with sauerkraut and mash will prevent hangovers. Oh, and don’t forget to buy some beers for the next day.
WINNING TIP: Strandperle beach bar, Hamburg
A pearl on the beach! That’s Strandperle, a beach bar in the wonderful port city of Hamburg. Set on the banks of the river Elbe, it’s a fantastic place to sit back in a deckchair and watch huge cruise liners and container ships pass by. It’s where the locals hang out and you can easily spend the whole day relaxing … or even propose, as I once did! Part of the fun is the journey to the bar. Go the Landungsbrucken in the harbour and take the 62 ferry to Ovelgonne and then walk along the sandy shores of the Elbe. Strandperle offers a good range of cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks such as FritzCola (made in Hamburg) or Bionade. The locals will probably be drinking a cool Astra beer from a special Standperle glass. Food ranges from light snacks to full meals at reasonable prices (about €15). I’d recommend currywurst or fish rolls.
BRLO Brwhouse, Berlin
Opened at the start of June 2016, this new beer garden, formed from a series of sea containers, is an extension to the BRLO brewery which is also on site. It serves their four types of craft beers on draught and also a selection of freshly cooked food. It is in one of Berlin’s newer parks and is only a 10-minute walk from Potsdamer Platz. For families with young kids there’s plenty to keep them busy while you enjoy a cold beer.
Hotel Adlon Kempinski Bar, Berlin
When you’ve tired of the trendier drinking options in Berlin, settle yourself down in comfort in the bar of the famous Hotel Adlon Kempinski. Yes, drinks are on the pricey side, but waiters are welcoming and efficient, even if you are staying elsewhere, and the view of the Brandenburg Gate is wonderful, particularly in the evening when it is beautifully lit. Relax and think about some of the hotel’s famous visitors: Tsar Nicholas II, Josephine Baker, Marlene Dietrich, Albert Einstein and, notoriously, Michael Jackson.
Möbel Olfe, Berlin
This bar, near Kottbusser Tor in Kreuzberg, is a crazy experience, starting with the furniture stuck to the ceiling (the premises used to be a furniture store) and the fact it’s slap bang in the middle of a housing estate. Although gay, and at the scruffier/bearier end of the gay spectrum, it’s open to all. The floor-to-ceiling windows make it great for people watching even from outside, although it gets so busy you may end up squashed against them. The bar’s irreverence is contagious – when the smoking ban came in, they hosted a smoker’s party in a tent outside, before people soon went back to smoking inside anyway.
We spent a drizzly afternoon visiting the traditional pubs and brewhouses of this world heritage town in Bavaria. If you only have time to visit one, make it Schlenkerla, in Dominikanerstrasse. Authentic rauchbier (made from smoked malt tapped straight from the wooden barrel) is served in this atmospheric 17th-century building in the shadow of Bamberg’s Romanesque cathedral. Drink it with a traditional Bavarian breakfast of weisswurst (white pudding), pretzels and sweet mustard or an afternoon snack of the strangely-named kaese mit musik. The soused onions served with the cheese explains the music that is produced later.
Weinstube Kachelofen, Stuttgart
If you have ever wondered what the German concept gemütlichkeit means, the Weinstube Kachelofen in Stuttgart’s centre will sum it up for you. The interior is welcoming and cosy, you feel relaxed as soon as you enter. The traditional glazed stove (kachelofen) is the main feature of the room. The Weinstube is furnished in gingerbread-house style, with carved wooden chairs and lace tablecloths, but there is nothing kitsch about the breezy service and the delicious food and drink. Try a schwarzbier (black beer) or red trollinger wine with maultaschensuppe (a soup with ravioli-type pasta) for €5 or käesespätzle (Swabian noodles with cheese) for €10.
Papa Joe’s Jazz Bar, Cologne
In the old part of Cologne is an intimate and friendly bar, very atmospheric, playing live traditional jazz most nights. Sometimes the crowd spills out into the street in front due to its small size, but that just adds to the fun. Wood panelled inside, with lots of artifacts hanging on the walls and ceiling, such as trumpets, posters, pictures and dummies. Old game machines and automatic musical instruments from the 1920s are dotted around. Great beer, good food. Service also very good, waitresses serving drinks from traditional wooden trays strapped round their neck. It’s in the Buttermarkt, one street from the river.
Capri Bar, Bremen
Better known for its brewery and Grimm Brother’s Town Musicians than its bar scene, Bremen still has pockets of nightlife to offer the young bar-goer. Tucked a few streets behind the main drag of the trendy Steintor quarter, hides an unassuming patch of unusual watering-holes. Begin at the Capri Bar, with its cavernous walls and eye-wateringly cheap happy hour. While sipping cocktails inside a cave may be a bit kitsch for some, the sociable beer garden out the front offers the chance to hone your German or simply soak up the northern sun. Then just as the night seems all but over, venture a few doors down to the tiny (yet lively) Heartbreak Hotel. Inside the graffiti-laden walls is a DJ who will be playing even after the keenest of night owls has gone home.