On this day in 1990, cranes began to dismantle one of history’s most shameful divides; The Berlin Wall. A year and two months later, I stood alongside a portion of what was left.
Finding the pre-packaged bus tours a bore, I feigned illness the next couple of group outings and hit the streets on my own. Ratskeller Export Bier at the KaDeWe Building, Berliner Weisse off the Kurfürstendamm, K-Bap sandwiches (pretty much a gyro) and Currywurst from sketchy food stalls and getting lost every day took up my schedule.
Then there was the East Side Gallery, almost all that was left of The Wall. This large remnant of the 140+ kilometer symbol of political and societal mistrust was turned into a gallery where international artists depicted various events, moods and ruminations from 29 years of subjugation. I was able to stand in what used to be the no-man’s land between walls. How many had shed their blood in this kill zone, just for a faint chance at freedom?
Later that night came the announcement that the capitol of Germany was moving back to Berlin. The joy and excitement down on the Ku’damm could barely fit in my words, but I imagine that it was probably only half of what Berliners experienced when The Wall came down; perhaps less.
When it was all said and done, our trip to Berlin was fun and very rewarding. However, that afternoon in East Berlin stayed with me; the German ancestry in me was sad and nostalgic for something I’d never understand.
Speaking of nostalgia, one of my favorite memories was that cool night in the Bier Garten with that Berliner Weisse. Unfortunately, I don’t currently have any that hasn’t already been reviewed in this column. About as close as I’ll be able to get to the notorious sour beer of Berlin is another German style not often found State-side; Gose.
Pronounced “go-suh,” this is stylistically more challenging than most sours. Brewed with salt and coriander, the tartness and salinity can be too intense. So, to combat those qualities, there are brewers who temper the flavors with fruit, same as with Berliner Weisse.
I just acquired a German by way of America with Victory Brewing Kirsch Gose. This cherry-accented ale is Brach’s orange hard candy in color with a pink-tinged head. Raw sourbread dough starts the scents with underlying notes of cherry, kirschwasser liqueur and Braeburn apple. Faint salt on the palate with dusty hops, tart cherry and lemon while semi-sweet cereal malt finally fades through at the finish.
Here’s to the end of restriction, the celebration of freedom and the courage to discover the new.