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Pub Visit - Europe (except Germany)

St Petersburg (Санкт-Петербург):
Bierstübe / Бирштубе

Tuesday 23rd July 2013

Bob Thompson

Bierstube 1
I don't think you could anticipate a Marriott hotel would ever have a German-style brew pub as its main bar. Yet, such a situation occurs in St Petersburg.

The hotel in question has the unwieldy name of Courtyard by Marriott St Petersburg Center West Pushkin Hotel.

Although located in the Admiralty district it is not that accessible by public transport. I suppose that is why the hotel operates a shuttle bus to more central parts of the city.

So, just before midday I was to be found in Sennaya Ploschad (square) / Сенная Площадь where the bus was scheduled to depart at 11.50 for the hotel. I found it impossible to locate where it departed from and then, I saw it, whizzing down the middle of the square about twenty metres from where I was standing. I noticed it turning left at the end so got a wriggle on, but to no avail. As I turned left into the street it had disappeared into, it was gone.

Bierstube 3Oh well, there was a taxi waiting and although it cost me nearly 500 roubles, it was at least an entertaining journey as, when I showed the driver the address in Russian, he laughed, as he could see from the rest of my itinerary that I was visiting a lot of pubs.

He thought I had the best job in the world (It would be, if I got paid!) and then expressed his opinion of the quality of nearly every Russian domestic beer, from the 1990s to the present day. It was very interesting, as a lot of what he said concurred with what I thought.

On entering the hotel I asked the usual bouncer (sorry, security man) where the Bierstube was, and he directed me to the right. I noticed the transport desk on the way.

The bar itself is in a rustic wooden style and, with the imagination only slightly stretched, could pass for a German hostelry. One side of the room has a balcony that actually overlooks the courtyard, but the view is so uninteresting that it more pleasant to remain on the other side of the room.

I took a seat at the bar and immediately noticed the brewery was situated behind the shelves. The four regular beers were all on offer. They are as follows, along with the original descriptions off the menu:

Czech Lager (4.5%): Classic lager with rich bouquet of Pilsner malt, light hops bitterness, pleasant and pure taste. It perfectly quenches thirst and cheers up.
Irish Red (4.4%): Ruby coloured beer with creamy foam and unique delicate balance of caramel (medium crystal) and noble hops.
Irish Black (4.9%): Almost black beer with tints of red. It has a light bitter taste of black malt, dense cream foam, delicate hops aroma and pleasant chocolate aftertaste.
Weissbier (4.5%): A top-fermented light and refreshing brew, featuring a unique clove and banana aroma.

Bierstube 2I had a small glass of each of the Czech lager and the Irish Black. The former was a very good example of the type; in my mind indistinguishable from the originals. The latter was a good stout, possibly more of a porter, and although it was very nice, was not in the dry Irish style.

I went to the transportation desk to order a taxi and had to wait a further twenty minutes, so went back to the bar and had the Irish Red. This, I thought, was a good replication. It is not normally a favourite, being a bit too malty, yet this was great as it had more bitterness than one would normally expect.

I enjoyed my visit here. Despite the fact that it is in a smart hotel, the Bierstube is very much a normal pub, and makes a good sports bar, judging by the number of televisions in the bar-room.

Important Information:

Bierstübe, (Courtyard by Marriot St Petersburg Center West Pushkin Hotel)
nab. Kanala Griboedova 166, Sankt Peterburg. Tel: 812 610 5000
Ресторан Бирштубе, Гоибоедова Канала 166, Санкт-Петербург, 190121

Open: Monday-Sunday 12.00-01.00

Hotel shuttle bus from Sennaya Ploshchad Metro. There are obviously city buses that come fairly close but it would need close study of the City Transport Authority's website to get the details, awkward but not impossible.