This is a sample chapter from “Drinking In the Culture.”
Leipzig’s magnificent old Hauptbahnhof claims to be the world’s largest in floor area. It boasts 24 platforms and a dizzying amount of modern shopping mall. At the northwest edge of the old town, you can get from there to pretty much anywhere you’d want to go in the city by tram, bus, or the spanking new underground S Bahn City Tunnel.
Welcome to Brauerei an der Thomaskirche
The shape of the town roughly resembles a not-quite- inflated beach ball. The station was built in 1915 by two railroad companies; each got its own identical entrance. Exit from either one, and the old town lies in front of you to the south across a large expanse of tram lines and an even larger park, Willy Brandt Platz. Cross the park and keep walking away from the station, and you’re in the town cen- ter in less than 10 minutes. You can get to the spectacular Neues Rathaus on the other side of the old town in less than 20 minutes if you don’t stop to drink.
The multi-leveled and very modern shopping area that fills the Hauptbahnhof will sell you almost anything—except an interesting beer. Unless we’ve missed a hidden gem, here are your limited options.
There’s a small pils bar opposite Gleis 8 offering a light and dark Hasseröder from nearby Wernigerode and some international brands of draft, in a haze of cigarette smoke. To escape its smelly confines, cross Willy Brandt Platz in front of the station and head into the city center on Nikolaistrasse. On your left and down a set of stairs is the King’s Head English Pub (Nikolaistr. 40), which has Newcastle and Guinness and a few others on tap. We found it dark and gloomy, but others might call it atmospheric. It opens at 6 PM most days. On our last trip it was “closed for remodeling.” Goodness knows it could use it, but we’ve encountered too many “temporary” closures that never reopened to be confident about this place. For a more German experience, continue just past our three-block limit to the Gasthaus Alte Nikolaischule; see below.
We try to stay away from America when we’re not in America, but if you’re homesick, the Champions bar in the Marriott cooks up a good burger and you can wash it down with U.S.-style pitchers of Krostitzer Pils or Schwarz. For other options, walk past the Marriott headed into town, jink right on Brühl and then left onto Reich- strasse, and you’ll find a series of bars, all modern and all pretty dull. If you have the time to walk a little farther, skip all of these and head for the Brauhaus at the Thom- askirche. Several trams will take you there easily and the S Bahn drops you at the market in less than five minutes.