We will write about basketball soon but Emmet Ryan found a noble cause while roaming through Kreuzberg on Wednesday night
The business begins on Thursday. That’s when we register, that’s when those of us in Berlin begin to act like basketball journalists. Tonight however was about the city. It’s long been a home for defiant types and I met one this evening in a pub that we, the lovers of basketball, are going to make Berlin appreciate.
There’s a point in Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World where Russell Crowe is talking to his sailors on the HMS Surprise in the Pacific and tells them “This ship is England.” Well this week and next, as long as I have the lust to enjoy a drink or two my goal is to make it so that Bourbon Dogs is EuroBasket. I haven’t hid my demons on this site before, they sit there in the back but I have become the confident beer loving dude you tolerate today because of overcoming them. I found this pub in Kreuzberg as part of my trawl into the foetal craft beer scene in this city. For all of Germany’s history in beer, the craft sector is only beginning to grow. There are great spots, like Hopfenreich, but even these are barely a year old. Bourbon Dogs is only on the go a month, they only added the dogs a couple of nights ago, and right now not a lot of people care about it. Well, I got a reason to care tonight.
For the guts of 3 hours I was literally the only person in this bar save the barmaid. She’s lived a fascinating life, getting forced into music before she was four before finding the part of it she loved in conducting and eventually presenting a command performance to the president of Lithuania. Normally in these beer columns I don’t hold back but it would be wrong for me to detail the downside here. This barmaid has lived a long life in a short span. She’s seen more than anyone’s fair share and as we shared our life stories over a surprisingly small amount of alcohol, I thought I was dealing with a contemporary. She looked young but there was no way someone could fit in as much triumph and suffering, and there was plenty of both, without clocking up some years. To find out that she was younger than my nephews, in Berlin 6 months at just 19 now, was extraordinary but that’s not why I’m writing about her. Sure, some people see more than their fair share of the parts of life that kick you in the ass when you are down while experiencing an amazing run of achievements in a short time but not everyone comes out healthy. I’d love to say I’d have handled it well at her age but I know better, it would have wrecked me beyond breaking point and I mean both the highs and lows. It took me the years I have to get comfortable with being me and I haven’t had near the slings and arrows the person I sat opposite tonight had to stare down. Here was someone who was a complete stranger before we shared a pub speaking with confidence far beyond her years. She didn’t suck it up when the bad things happened, this wasn’t some brave face act, she had the maturity to realise that bad stuff sucks and that if you don’t acknowledge that you can’t learn from it. She has, she did, and kept me from playing with my phone for hours. That’s the kind of person I want to support.
It doesn’t hurt that even though I was literally the only customer there, the pub was fantastic. Normally, I’d say a place lives and dies on atmosphere but the layout and location is crying out for a crowd. The place is a little bit more expensive than locals are used to but it’s just plain worth it. Hot dogs, with some really cool recipes, the best selection of bourbon you are going to find in this town, and a top notch craft beer menu just added to it. So here’s what I’m saying to every Germany, Iceland, Italy, Serbia, Spain, and Turkey fan in town. Hit this place up as often as you can during the tournament. Make the locals notice it. I’m going to do my bit. It’s a good spot and it needs the love. Not to mention that it’s a 30 minute walk tops from the arena and stays open really late. You are going to love it. I’ll get back to writing about hoops tomorrow in the conventional sense but right now, I am talking about basketball. Germany has enjoyed basketball and beer for a long time but both sides are undergoing revolutions right now. The beer revolution needs the basketball communities help. These guys have put a flag down to offer something different and exciting. We, as hoop heads, know why that’s worth nurturing. We, as hoop heads, know that our support can make a difference. And heck, you know you’ll probably run into me there. I didn’t name the barmaid, you are going to have to meet her yourself and in Ireland we’d say she’d be scarlet after me telling you what a remarkable person she is. I will however name one person who I am making a promise to right here, right now. Goranka Zloporubovic, if you can get a half dozen FIBA heads down here after the last day of action on the 10th, the first round is on me. If it’s more than 6 or 7 of you…umm I’ll buy the first half dozen a beer, come on I’m on BiE wages here. The bar stays open pretty late.