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It’s hard to describe Birgit und Bier. Walking in is like stepping into a fantastical new world; a maze-like magical playground, full of old fairground rides, retro arcades, discarded carnival oddities, ping pong tables, graffiti, dance floors, beer tanks and funky furniture. It is a new kind of biergarten, the type that can only be found in Berlin.
It’s in Kreuzberg, once enclosed on three sides by the Berlin Wall, but now one of the coolest and most colourful districts of Berlin. Just back from the River Spree, and alongside the Landwehr Canal, Birgit, as its friends know it, forms the centrepiece of a kind of mini counterculture island.
It was opened in May 2015 by Robert Kreissel, when he was just 30, and named after lyrics from the song Kaffee und Karin from German rock band Element of Crime. Hard to believe now but it used to be a garage where old taxis got fixed.
Birgit is the bar’s female statue, permanently reaching her arms above her head in joy and celebration. Bier is the seven tanks of fresh Pilsner Urquell beer found across two bars.
“We want people to have an adventure – something they’ve never done before,” says Robert. “Birgit has a unique atmosphere. You can do anything here. During the day families come and it’s like a fun park, chilled out, people eating and drinking and listening to nice music. In the night we never know what is going to happen – we want people have a crazy unexpected night.”
“We have a very open door policy. Everyone is welcome – old people, young people, party people, hipsters, ravers, techno-lovers, tourists, families. Everyone! People can come straight in – there’s no line like other places. I think it’s the most welcoming bar in Berlin.”
“Our friends helped us build this place. Artisans, artists and carpenters. We give them our ideas – or they come to us with theirs – and they make it happen. Things change and evolve every week – it’s a never-ending story. It’s why I like working here – to realise my concepts and see people react and respond to our ideas so well.”
“To be a success in this business, you need good people around you. You can’t do everything on your own. Steph Kiehns is my right hand woman and she’s responsible for most of our concepts.”
“We were one of the first to get tank beer in Berlin and we’re really proud of it. I’ve never heard of anyone not liking Pilsner Urquell. It’s just really good fresh beer.”
“You can’t find another place like it in Berlin.” It's an adventure whenever you're there. Always fun and interesting and always with good, fresh Pilsner Urquell.
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