You’re either really excited by this, or you don’t know what you’re missing.
It all started when I saw a Facebook photo of a bottle of Thatcher’s Katy cider and the caption: “Well well well, what have we got here… A huge selection of British ciders and beers”. My life over the past few years has been a search. And don’t say: ‘Well they sell this cider there…’ because no, no they don’t. Not real cider. I’ve even tried making my own to fill the gap. But to know that I can now buy Katy cider…
Everything a homesick Brit could possibly need.
So yeah, Friedrichshain’s Home Bar is launching its own shop – Home Bar and Beyond. This shop, conveniently located inside their bar, sells almost every fond memory from my childhood (thanks, uncle.).
We’re talking Pot Noodles, Twiglets, Nik Naks. Cadbury’s, OXO cubes, real ale, malt vinegar and Bisto. Excellent Yorkshire tea and real British biscuits.
We’re talking everything you need to facilitate making the perfect fish and chips at home – mushy peas, tartare sauce and even a fantastic recipe for the batter.
A cheesy sausage party that never sleeps.
We’re talking cheddar cheese. Real stuff. France be fucked, this is how cheese should be. It’s from The Cheshire Cheese Company, discovered by owner Mike in a food market in his hometown, lovingly brought to Berlin.
We’re talking The Sausageman Never Sleeps (okay, he’s a Kiwi… but his world-class produce is anything if not British-like), a fridge-full of back and streaky bacon, bangers, knackers (pronounce the k), chorizo and his infamous ‘Wurst der Woche’.
A British isle in Berlin.
It’s strange how some cultures club together and bring their home with them. We’ve seen Spätis polluted with Hershey’s and Reese’s Faeces. True Italian and Berlino magazine galvanise the Italian community. ‘Irish cheddar’ and Kerrygold butter have appeared in supermarkets. And let’s not mention Irish bars.
But, the English especially have always seemed reticent to bring their home with them (yes I understand the irony of writing this in English, in a world touched by our legacy). So this, Home Bar and Beyond, truly is an island within Berlin – one that it’s almost mad we had to wait so long for.
I asked Home bar owners Kate and Mike what prompted this change: “it started with the British snacks we started selling two years ago and we thought: now, there’s a hole in the market”.
But the products they’ve chosen to import all bring back childhood memories. They’re products which have a place in the heart of everyone raised on that Monkey Island. “After a while, we need that stuff,” clarified Kate, eking out a whistful homesickness, “the things we’ve ordered are the things we missed.”
The Passion of the Heinz.
On the subject of the products they’ve imported, both Kate and Mike have two products which were ‘must-haves’, things they each insisted that Home Bar and Beyond had to stock.
For Mike it was canned soft drink Vimto (difficult to explain) and canned baked beans with sausages. I couldn’t agree more and purchased a can along with my Katy. I later ate the contents, cold and unadulterated, in an early morning hungover stupor.
For Kate it’s Sussex ale Harvey’s – “Harvey’s I remember from my childhood. We had to have that – and we’re the only place in Germany who do” – and Alter/Native soap, a handmade product also from Kate’s hometown.
Ale Mary! Finally some good fucking drinks.
But the icing on this peculiar cake is the drink selection. On top of the aforementioned Katy’s and Harvey’s, there’s a fridge-full of British brewing delights on offer. Finally real ale. Finally real cider. Kate ending by adding, “soon we are getting scrumpy cider”, in response to which I had to pop to the toilet for a micro-aggression.
Home Bar and Beyond
Neue Bahnhofstraße 23
Camera: Canon EOS 6D. With special thanks to Canon.