Friday 17th January 2014
This was a rather special evening as this was a celebration of Patrick's 50th birthday. He has been name-checked more than once in BeerVisits, as I like to mention who I am with when I make a visit. Patrick's comments are always deemed very useful when it comes to wheat beer, as he likes it and I am not that keen.
Although the place was busy as it was Friday night, we weren't concerned because he had booked a large table for 20.00. I got there about 19.30 and obtained a half litre of the seasonal special which was 3-Korn Bier which I liked considerably. I went to find a stand up place near the bar and brewery and met up with Pete and Tracey. So we spent about a quarter of an hour chatting until other guests arrived including the birthday boy himself. He took us down to the reserved table at the very end of the room.
Whilst I earlier visited the facilities on the lower floor I noticed a waiter coming out of a refrigerated room with two wooden barrels of beer.
When we arrived at the table I realised where their destination was, as there was one at each end. After a brief instruction from the waiter on how to best control the taps, we were away!
The group had been joined by Russell, Steve, Vaughan, Des, Dick, Alistair, Alasdair, Robert, and other friends of Patrick that I only met on the night. Apologies to anyone missed out. The beer we were drinking was the normal Tram-Helles, which was a good example of the normal light lager beer style. Needless to say, we had a great evening and I thank Patrick greatly for it.
So please allow me tell you about the Altes Tramdepot? As its name implies it is an old tram depot, obvious I suppose. I am only surmising here, but I'm not sure it if was an electric tram depot. Although it makes for a large pub there is not a vast amount of space for many trams, and there doesn't seem to have been an outside storage yard as it very close to the river valley. My thoughts are that it was a horse tram depot yet it would nice if somebody could correct or confirm this.
After a lot of renovation and adaptation to its new role it opened in 1998 and has since become a notable Bern fixture as it is now one of the city's best-known restaurants.
It has also gained a lot of popularity from the fact the famous bear pit is outside the front door. Of course, the name of the city comes from the animal that was once wild here; bears are very important in Bern. The bear pit was restored in 2009 and I understand that in summer, real bears inhabit it again, although this needs to be confirmed.
As one enters the building there is a reception area with a branch of the tourist office on the right. Beyond this is the restaurant and on entering you can't help but notice the burnished copper of the brewery on the left. It is a 16hl plant from Salm of Austria. It can produce up to 2,000 hl per annum.
There are three regular beers which are all unfiltered and they are Tram-Helles (4.9%); Tram-Märzen (5.1%) and Tram-Weizen (4.9%), their wheat offering. I have tried them all in the past and have to say that they are all extremely well crafted.
As I said earlier I tried the 3-Korn Bier (5.0%), which was Special of the Week. It wasn't at all strange and to me it appeared to be just a well-made lager beer. The next special offering was to be Canadian Red Ale (5.2%), described as malty with a light hop flavour. Supposedly brewed for Canada Week; I've never heard of this before although I know that Canada Day is 1st July.
The pub and restaurant are enormously popular, especially in the summer, maybe because it is the only brew pub in the capital. However, there is more space available then as there is a nice outside terrace overlooking the river valley. The beers are well made and that alone should convince any visitor to the city to make the short journey from the centre to try a beer or two.
Altes Tramdepot, Grosser Muristalden 6, Bern. CH-3006. Tel: 041 (0) 31 368 1415
Open: Summer: Mon-Sun 10.00-00.30
Winter: Mon-Fri 11.00-00.30; Sat-Sun 10.00-00.30
There are no trams any more to this location but there is the very frequent trolleybus route 12 which crosses the city centre, calling at Bern HB, the main railway station, and running through the historic Altstadt (Old Town). The required stop is Bärengraben.
Bern HB railway station has train connections to all over Western Europe.