Is it just me, or does the S at the end of the sign outside Bierhaus look wonky? Not that it really matters for pulling in the punters. I think it’s one of those places that you have to know it’s there and actively make an effort to get there. It’s stuck down a side street next to The Hexagon that most people don’t casually pass and pop in on a whim, so by the time you get there, it’s too late to change your mind just because of a wonky S.
I’ve been trying to find a good excuse to go to Bierhaus for ages, so when my good friend Katie The Dog Lover casually dropped into a chat that she was debating whether to go to Bierhaus or to have an early night, I persuaded her to go and invited myself to gatecrash her evening with Millenial Tom and Possibly-A-Spy Helen, thus forcing her to miss her early night. As anyone who knows Katie will realise, that didn’t particularly take much persuasion.
I’m still not fully decided if Bierhaus is a bar or a restaurant, and I guess that’s very much in line with its German origins, where it’s hard to find a bar that won’t also sell you a schnitzel or a bratwurst. As you enter, you walk into the bar area, which is small, with only has a few high tables and a massive TV showing sport. The majority of the establishment is then upstairs on a mezzanine level with dining tables. That can be off-putting if you just fancy a pint, and don’t want to just wander in to what might be the restaurant area, but don’t worry because in true continental style they are occupied by plenty of people just drinking beer.
The bar has a good selection of German and other continental beers – Spaten, Lowenbrau, Dortmunder Union Pils, Krombacher, Leffe Blond, Fruli Strawberry Beer, Bacchus Kriek, Erdinger Weisbeer, and Hoegaarden. All are available in half, pint or Stein. It’s a veritable collection of the most stereotypical continental beer. If that doesn’t suit you, you’re probably drinking in the wrong place. But if compelled to drink beer of a more British style, they have what seems like the concessionary bottles of Doombar and Punk IPA for those who insist (along with a massive selection of other continental beers in bottles too).
I started off with a Leffe Blonde – only a pint, not a Stein because I’d had a big night the night before. Plus, if I’d had a massive litre of beer each time, it’s harder to have variety. It tasted perfect – exactly as it would on the continent. These lagers always seem to travel well (or perhaps half of them are brewed in London now, but if that’s the case they have done a good job of replicating the original taste). The second pint I had was something more special though – the Bacchus Kriek. A cherry beer that Katie The Dog Lover described as a Belgian alcopop. That might be true, but when it’s £6 a pint and has a fancy foreign name, you can pretend it’s sophisticated and not a flashback to your teens.
The atmosphere was a bit tame for a Friday night. No dancing on the beer hall tables. The no dancing was helped by the bland power ballad music playing, which was mildly disappointing – I had been hoping for an oompah band for maximum stereotyping. There were a few groups in there and a few couples, mostly having a bit of food and plenty of beer to wash it down. The food is all very German (Schnitzel, Sauerkraut, Bratwurst), and comes with curried ketchup for authenticity. As Possibly-A-Spy Helen noted, it’s all just a delivery mechanism for German lard. There’s very little on the menu that isn’t fried meat with extra fat added, served with a lot of potatoes. And somehow the German’s life expectancy is longer than ours footnote 1.
The decor is really random. The walls are brown and decorated with the sort of tin signs that you buy in a gift shop when you really can’t think what to buy someone – but not enough of them to look like a heavily styled theme restaurant. The wipe-clean plastic tablecloths also had the same style pictures on them, so at least there was consistency. But the crowning glory was the PVC animal print seatback. We spent a good 15 minutes on google image search to see what animal it might have been, before conceding that perhaps the designers hadn’t felt compelled to stick to something that actually occurs in nature.
In summer you can sit at the outside tables (or in winter if you are Millenial Tom and can’t last long without a vape). If you can ignore the fact that your view is of the Hexagon and the student accommodation tower block, you can almost pretend that you are having a nice city break in Berlin. Whether you want that every weekend, I don’t know. But it’s definitely worth a trip every now and then.
|Beer Quality||Tasted perfect|
|Beer Selection||It’s all very continental. No bitter or IPA here|
|Drink vs Food||It’s like a continental bar – you can sit at a dining table but just drink beer, and no-one will bat an eyelid|
|Music||Soft European rock|
|Snacks||Some packets of unrecognisable snacks|
|Atmosphere||Friendly, but slightly confusing for a Brit more used to a pub|
|Price||£5 to £6 a pint|
|Space||It’s not gigantic – about a dozen tables perhaps. Plenty of free space though|