There's a veritable shit-ton of ugliness in this world right now. It’s difficult to look in any direction and not see something awful or tasteless or downright offensive. So it’s doubly hurtful when something beautiful is replaced with something heinous. But here we are.
[Editor’s note: Existence is pain. Enjoy Arby’s!]
Earlier this week, BrewDog’s James Watt posted some pictures to his Instagram of the soon-to-open DogTap Berlin. The images show a bright blue shipping container adorned with marquee letters spelling out “BREWDOG,” a row of pinball machines alongside a rideable snowmobiling arcade game called Arctic Thunder, and *checks notes* a 30-foot-tall mural of two pink cartoon squids entangled with one another in front of a tropical island.
Now, these things might not sound terribly egregious on their own. A shipping container? Lots of breweries have those—they’re industrial, my friend. A snowmobiling game? Who among us hasn’t dreamt of having our asses artificially shaken by a virtual Ski-Doo? That mural? What screams “BERLIN!” more than cephalopods and palm trees? Ok, sure, fine.
But then you realize what these eyesores have paved over. You see, DogTap Berlin has moved into the former space of the ill-fated Stone Brewing Berlin.
Say what you will about Stone, or Greg Koch, or his misbegotten foray into German beer culture—I’m certainly not the biggest fan. But Stone Berlin was gorgeous. Dare I say that it was the most beautiful brewery I’ve ever visited? I dare. And hey, I was surprised as you are! But what Koch and his team did there—architecturally, at least—was wondrous.
Walking through the doors felt like jumping through the wardrobe. Outside was an industrial park constructed around the turn of the 20th century, all brick and brute, built as a gasworks campus. Inside was Central Park—or better yet, Berlin’s Volkspark Friedrichshain—on an early autumn afternoon, but with a bit more whimsy.
There were grassy knolls and huge boulders and dimly lit lamp posts. Oh, and trees. So many trees. Trees everywhere, each pulled from local parks upon their natural deaths. There were small trees and large trees and table trees and bench trees and one gigantic tree on its side, sprawling across and winding through the dining area with its gnarled and twisted roots still intact. So many goddamn trees. It was a tree museum with free admission.
There was an entire mezzanine level, too, with stadium-scale steps all the way up that were filled to the brim with pillows of every size and shape and fabric imaginable. There was a dining table with a small babbling brook running right through the middle of it. There was exposed brick and shelves full of plants and vintage German ephemera everywhere you looked.
It was a love letter to Berlin—of Berlin—and it was objectively and undeniably beautiful. And now it’s gone. Now it’s crass and crude and commodified all in the name of BrewDog’s bastardization of “punk.”
When I see Watt’s photos, all I can picture is him and his partner Martin Dickie as big game hunters, posing with the most recent lion they've felled, grinning like idiots and bursting with pride at the fact that, even though they shouldn't, they could—and so they did.
How very 2019 of them.