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An alternative Oktoberfest

The end of September signals more than just leaves falling off trees: it's Oktoberfest! Can't make it to Munich? Enjoy a decidedly Berlin experience (Sep 24-27) on the Spree at Hänsel & Brezel. And come on, everyone loves beer and pretzels!

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Photo by Maciej Lenartowicz

We Berliners love to turn our (pierced) noses up at Munich, but sometimes, especially in autumn, we can’t help but get a hankering for some rosy-cheeked Bavarian biergarten vibes. Have it both ways at Hänsel & Brezel: the beer-centric weekday incarnation of beloved Spree-side open-air haunt Else, itself an offshoot of Salon – Zur wilden Renate.

Since July, the same people who’ve brought you your summer Sunday dance wind-downs have also been serving cold pils on tap (€4), pretzels with homemade Obazda (Bavarian cream cheese, €5), even Weißwurst. Go in a big group so you can split a 10-litre oak cask of Bavarian Helles (€60) from the 400-year old brewery Hofbräuhaus Traunstein.

As you might expect, the crowd’s more leather-jacket than lederhosen and there’s not a blue-checked tablecloth in sight as you sit in the shadow of fuchsia and turquoise freight craters, or over the water on a makeshift spiderweb net. But maybe someone will break out a dirndl for the big Oktoberfest bash (Sep 24-27), complete with horseshoe tossing, arm wrestling and a “Mr. and Mrs. Oktoberfest” contest.