Vagabund Brauerei Craft beer paradiso

Pilsner is no doubt a good German beer, but they say you can have too much of good thing. Or so thought three American expats after one too many frustrated years supping on the most bland and ubiquitous of beers in Berlin. As you do, they resolved to open a nano brewery in Wedding and make something with a bit more flavor. To fund it they looked to the powers of the internet and quickly raised the money to become the proud Daddies of Europe’s first crowd-funded brewery.

The names of those initial backers are carved into the doorway of their bar room and the sense of community that got Vagabund started is still palpable today. In fact, it’s usually so rammed that you can’t help but get up close and personal with your drinking neighbors. (There are regular open mics and live radio shows that actively court your participation too). Bonhomie aside though, what about the drink? As delicious as it is varied, this is craft beer heaven. We haven’t the space nor the desire to list all the beers you might encounter and they change weekly at any rate, just know that there are saisons and stouts, smoked ales, and IPA’s—some but not all of which are SMaSHs. And if that doesn’t mean anything to you, well, welcome to Real Beer 101.

Neue Heimat Let there be light featured

Whether you’re familiar with the RAW complex from supplying your guiltiest weekend whimsies or as a faux alternative tourist pit, chances are that the deepest corners of this concrete-filled playground weren’t part of the experience. For your own safety, they shouldn’t be. So thought many people, and dark things continued to linger in the shadows of RAW.

Then came superheroes Sebastian Baier, Danny Faber, and Andreas Söcknick, the miracle builders of Bar 25 and Chalet. Since putting aside their turntables, their surging levels of serotonin have been devoted to Neue Heimat, the newly minted night market in town. As of August 2014, the three took over the spacious east end of Revaler Str. 99, illuminated it with dangling lightbulbs, an unmissable sign, and successfully scared the Boogieman away.

Every Sunday it’s a village market flooded with local food vendors (who also partake in Street Food Thursday, Bite Club, etc.), musicians, artists, and a good load of people, who look as though grocery stores not opening on Sunday was and never will be an issue. If you’re lucky, the massage therapist from Michelberger Hotel might even be there to loosen those knots.

Neue Heimat won’t be just another Markthalle Neun though. At the moment visitors only see at most two-thirds of the property, but the founders are cooking up some amazing ideas for additions to the space. These will be actualized in the near future, with the dream of creating a village community out of graffitied shambles.

Twinpigs Chinny chin chin

Given the noughties hype surrounding the testicle of the West (aka Berlin), who hasn’t thought of cashing in with an oh-so Berlin bar in say “up-and-coming” Neukölln? Every fool within 1,000km of the TV tower that’s who. Unlike is not about half-arsed replicas with half-arsed drinks, however. And neither is Twinpigs.

Searching out a quiet corner away from the hordes, Twinpigs was not conceived to be popular, it was conceived to be good. Or as the owners put it: “No warm gin and tonics and Pilsner Urquell.” The drinks card here is head and shoulders above their local counterparts: strong classic drinks, some fresh new mixes, and a fine selection of beers. Heidenpeters from Markthalle 9 supplies them with a different delicious brew every week.

With a Swedish filmmaker and a Chilean architect behind this venture, the aesthetics were clearly no afterthought. Raw and refined in equal measure, they wanted a beautiful bar that could also transform and be used for supper clubs, film screenings and aerobic sessions—all of which take place here alongside your bread-and-butter weekend DJ sessions. And in case you were wondering about the meaning of ‘Twinpigs’—wonder no more—it’s a deliberate Lynchian headfuck.

Kater Blau Into the wild blue yonder

First things first, let’s not compare Kater Blau to Bar 25. Quite simply because it can’t and doesn’t. Once you stop reminiscing about mythical Berlin clubs, however, this newbie becomes a pretty exciting proposition. Spree-side gymnastics officially over, the Kater Holzig crew are back on the sunny side of the river again—this time with planning permission and money on their side.

The hotpotch Holzmarkt complex containing gardens, markets, bars, cinemas and God-knows-what other projects, rolls out towards the east, with Kater Blau as the only defiantly family-unfriendly section hugging the western corner. Classic weapons in their party arsenal—the photo booth, a wood burning fire and of course confetti—make a reappearance but now they’ve added a massive moored boat for extra firepower. Out on deck, there’s a ton of extremely lounge-worthy spots while inside, given the super-dooper new soundproofing, DJs can really do some damage.

For the most part, it’s an eclectic, fun-loving, top hat-wearing crowd—you’ll be fine so long as you don’t stay too late into the day after tomorrow when all manner of degenerates come out of the woodwork. It’s early days still but there are indications of good times ahead, albeit on a smaller scale than the club’s two previous incarnations. Alas, even ravers get old and have to take it easy.

KW Institute for Contemporary Art Full-frontal Kunst featured

Kunst-Werke (KW) is one of Berlin’s most consistently impressive contemporary art institutions. They excel in presenting the kind of exhibitions that those who take their art more seriously than a little eye candy will drool over. Art for the artists, if you will. Divergent enough from the mainstream to retain its sex appeal, yet of sufficient conceptual depth to continue sparking a few neurons off during the U-Bahn ride home.

KW is a million miles away from being a museum; that means no dust-gathering permanent collection, allowing innovation and curatorial creativity to run wild across five floors of malleable space, occasionally even spilling out into the large courtyard. A spicily mixed crowd — comprised of studious art fanatics, clutches of backpack-toting tourists who stumbled in off of Auguststraße, and a seasoning of bespectacled bohemian intellectuals — wander the interconnected series of spaces.

From mixed media retrospectives to overblown installations, festivals and sound performances, it’s fair game to expect the unexpected, assured in the knowledge that it’s going to be high-quality stuff. Past exhibitions have included the freaky-as-hell films that made up the cinema of transgression, the biting political satire of Christoph Schlingensief, and the talk-of-the-town beer pyramid from Cyprien Gaillard (pictured).

It was their initiative that kick-started the Berlin Biennale, and now as a collaborator of PS1/MoMA in New York, the Venice Biennale and Documenta X, Kunst-Werke is putting the city on the international art map as a heavyweight epicenter that’s here to stay.

Wald Seeing the wood and the trees

The story of this shop is very much the story of two Mädels. So, once upon a time, a young model started interning for a young stylist, and they hit it off, big time. And what else are a couple of twenty-something fashion darlings to do but run their own boutique? Fast forward a few years… Joyce and Dana have established Wald as a heavyweight player on the feisty Mitte style circuit.

In a rather humble dwelling, albeit right at the Münzstraße/Alte Schönhauser trend-apex of the city, you can find all sorts of lady goodness here, from street and sporty, to sexy and sleek. Sibilance aside though, the offering isn’t confined by one look and is therefore quite unique; hand picked by the globetrotting girlies themselves.

To name check a few labels, there’s Vera Meat, Surface to Air and Sophie Hulme as well as a liberal smattering of Scandinavian designers. All of which are cocooned in the intimate tree-lined surrounds of the store and peddled by the ever-friendly sales assistants. Also, keep your peepers peeled for their bi-annual magazine and Fashion Week shindigs.

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