An ode to the Berlin Späti

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Spaeti in Berlin

I’m not a poet, but Berlin during summertime and the ubiquitous Berlin späti (spaeti) makes me sing with excitement! What’s a späti? Read more after the poem :)

You’re where I go when I’m thirsty,
And after a night out of being dirty.
Both before and after Berghain,
And always on my way to Friedrichshain.

Though your beers are never very cold,
From cheap to expensive, even Beck’s Gold.
I buy a pils for my journey
In Berlin, where everyone’s horny.

Inside, you’re empty & bright
People come and go, with jeans tight.
Folks buying crisps & Coke,
Most of them are probably broke.

Sometimes we visit quick,
One euro twenty, click click.
Taking a Kindl, a Sterni,
Where else would I be?

Other times, we’re in and we’re out.
Buying beers for our picnic—sauerkraut
and grilled snacks for our barbecue
At the volkspark in summer. The sky, blue.

On a long summer night, we grab a bench
On the stoop outside—English, German, French.
Expats and foreigners; I’m still an out-of-towner.
Our barkeep? The woman behind the counter.

Sitting outside, we’re a rowdy bunch
Beer after beer; drunk as such.
No clubs, no bars—We paid no entrance fee,
Yet another reason I love you, dear späti.

What is a spätkauf?

Basically, it’s a convenience store. A 7-11 of sorts. They’re not specific to Berlin, but in Berlin, there’s at least a späti on every street. I’m not exaggerating! I’ve paid as little as 60 euro cents for a beer. People (drunk tourists and locals alike) typically stop in a späti on their way out, on their way home, or on their way anywhere. In a city where public drinking isn’t policed (you can even drink on the subways), beers-to-go are popular. And often a part of just about any night out on the town—whether you’re clubbing or just hanging out with friends.

This post is part of the Blogger Stammtisch, a monthly round-table of sorts for German expats.

 

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30 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. I <3 Berlin so much it hurts!

    • It’s such a fun city, Andrea! You have to come back and visit :)

  2. Nice. Over here we have 711s sprouting like mushrooms! And it’s not even America. lol And Mini-Stop too. Every corner.

    • Well, so long as they provide cheap drinks…. all power to ‘em!

  3. I dont think we have such places in the West. I kid I kid :)

  4. I love it when convenience stores double as hang outs. One of my favourite memories in Colombia was hanging out on the street corners with locals on a Friday night. Seems odd but not there.

    • Hey Ayngelina,

      Yeah I’m a big fan of hanging out on street corners and convenience stores when I travel….but less so at home, ha!

      It is so much fun, though and makes for cheap & easy nights out.

  5. I have a friend living in Berlin now and he loves it. No cover charge? I’m really excited to possibly come visit soon!

    • Definitely try to visit over the spring and summer if you can, Scott. Berlin is so much nicer then and the whole city is alive. These spaetis are amazing during the summer. Last year several friends and I would just hang out in front of them drinking beers all night…

  6. Never heard about Spaet but next time I’ll be inb Berlin, I’ll go to a spätkauf..definitely! You can not find a beer that cheap elsewhere!

    • Seriously — the beer is almost always cheaper in a spaeti. Once I was in one and the guy didn’t actually know the price of the beer so he just asked us to pay something we thought was fair. I tried to pay 50 cents, and he wouldn’t accept more than 40!

  7. They are great, aren’t they. Berlin is my home town although I haven’t been back in well over 15 years. Love to read about it though and BTW the poem is pretty cool.

    • Oh I didn’t realize you were from Berlin, Inka! I really think the spaetis here are something special. It’s hard to miss them even as a tourist here for a weekend they’re so ubiquitous.

  8. Interesting! 7-11 for the beer only! do they have any competitors there?

    • Well, Annie, the spaetkaufs here vary from store to store. Some are clean and some are dirty. Almost all of them have one thing in common, though—cheap beer!

      But seriously…. they all vary so much but everyone seems to have a favorite. Or at least one they regularly visit.

  9. Nice Article..
    Have you been to Malaysia or India before?
    I love your Blog

  10. I remember seeing a few of those when I was there! I love your blog! I’m planning on moving to Europe (hopefully Germany) in September, and I really like reading your posts about Berlin! Makes me super excited! :)

    • Hi Michelle and thank you :)

      Berlin is a great place to live—especially if you want to have some fun!

  11. I LOVE beers-to-go. It’s like being active but still getting drunk. I wonder if there are walking tours in Berlin with pit stops in spätis?

    • Well, there are bicycle tours of Berlin where the bikes are hooked up to a moving bar….so a spaeti tour doesn’t sound so crazy. Perhaps I should arrange one through Gidsy!

  12. This is great! One’s local späti becomes such a part of Berlin life. We used to call them bottle shops. And since there are no open container laws in Berlin, it makes so much sense to grab a beer or two from a späti at the beginning/end of a night. Also, they are some of the only places open on Sundays, making them a lifesaver at times :)

    • Thanks Audrey!

      Definitely agree about the Sunday thing. I always end up wanting to go buy things on Sunday when everything is closed. Though that does save me some money…

  13. A Spaeti? I’ve never heard of them. I wonder if hey’re more common throughout the eastern part of Germany. I think around Cologne (where I grew up), we’d usually to a Tankstelle (gas station) for cheap drinks on the go :)

    • Cheap drinks from a gas station? That reminds me of Texas – where we even had drive-throughs set up solely to sell beer. Crazy world.

      It’s funny, though. I always thought spaetis were all over Germany but from all the comments here, I guess they’re actually much more of a Berlin thing than I originally thought!

      • Up until a few years ago, Lubbock was a dry county and we were dreaming of a gas station selling any kind of alcohol (expensive or not). We had to drive outside of the city limits where they had set up “the strip” – a street that looked like mini-Las-Vegas with a whole bunch of stores selling alcohol :)

        • Ah, this was the same case with me growing up in Texas. No hard alcohol was sold in the county so just on the border you’d find a huge cluster of bottle shops!

  14. I’m guessing these are what we call Kiosks round here – though I don’t think they’re particularly late night… but that’s probably because no one’s out past 10pm in Wiesbaden ;)

    • Yeah, it’s basically a kiosk where people go to buy cigarettes and beers to go. Maybe some crisps and candy. But in Berlin (especially during the summer), it’s popular to hang out on the curb in front of them. Many even have a table or two, or a few chairs and a bench outside.

  15. So is it beer or a wine or what? And there are entire stores for it? So are there different types? Tell us more :-)

    • It’s a convenience store! It’s where most Berliners go to buy their cheap cheap beer. Or little bottles of Jager :)

      Added a little bit more about them above!

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