Monday 7th October 2013
The Hamburg Landungsbrücke is one of the world's most well-known harbour side locations. This is where large numbers of emigrants left Europe for a new life in America; not only German but many other nationalities. Before the First World War huge liners such as the SS Imperator with its gigantic eagle on the prow, crossed the Atlantic to New York for the Hamburg-America Line.
These buildings that front the River Elbe were great survivors of the Second World War, when all of its landing stages and most of the surrounding area were bombed out of existence. They were completed in 1909 under the instructions of architects Raabe & Wöhlecke for the Hamburg City Harbours Board. Oddly enough, they were constructed from a rock named Tuff. I have to admit that I'd never heard of it before. It is of volcanic origin and very few modern buildings have ever been constructed using it.
At the eastern end, where the brew pub is located, there is a tower called Pegelturm, which displays the current state of the tide half way up the structure. I haven't actually seen it and was something I only discovered following research for this article. I really must be more observant in future!
At the other end of the building, under the domed building is the entrance to the Elbe Tunnel, constructed in 1911. As the harbour and docks extended to the other bank of the Elbe, better communications were needed and so the tunnel was built.
If you have a spare hour or so you must cross over, as it is quite a feat of engineering and design. It is over forty years since I used it but I can't remember hurrying back so there must be a bar over there.
Foot passengers and cycles are free. For cars there is a small toll. Access is by lifts down to two parallel tubes that are completely tiled and have many bas-relief motifs on the wall. It is quite an experience!
Of course the buildings of the Landungsbrücke were once used for dealing with passengers, including their baggage and the immigration / emigration processes.
Nowadays the only regular departures are various local ferries and passenger vessels out to the North Sea on trips to the island of Helgoland. Yet, additionally, there are over 150 cruise ships arriving and departing from the Landungsbrücke during the summer in a normal year.
I well remember a trip to here from Harwich on the erstwhile Prins Ferries service. In winter, it ran a one-ship service, six days a week, on three days one way, and three other days back. So, if you picked the right day of departure, you could do a mini-cruise with an extra 24 hours in Hamburg at no extra cost, and spend the night on the ship berthed at the Landungsbrücke!
Blockbräu opened in 2012 and is a remarkably large pub. It spreads over three floors and I was surprised to learn that it can accommodate over a 1,000 customers at a time. I now realise that there is a roof terrace that holds over 400 patrons and it is said to have wonderful views of the passing shipping in the River Elbe.
I went in through the main door that leads to the huge main room and discovered the bar on the right. I settled at a high table opposite and took a look around.
I noticed that the second floor was like a balcony all the way round with the brewery at one end and seating on the other three sides. The conditioning tanks for the beer are situated on the ground floor next to the bar.
I was a little disappointed with the beer range as there was a straight choice between Pils or Weizen (wheat). Even more so as they were celebrating Oktoberfest and had a special menu of Bavarian food, yet no Festbier; a chance missed I think. I passed on the wheat beer and had the Pils. Whilst I may have bemoaned the lack of choice, this beer was absolutely fantastic with lots of bitterness, a real classic.
So, this is a pub that is well worth visiting for a really good beer and a spectacular grandstand to watch the ships in the river, especially when there are cruise liners in port.
Blockbräu Brauhaus am Hafen, Bei den St Pauli Landungsbrücken 3, Hamburg 20457
Tel: +4940 4440 5000
Open: Monday-Sunday 11.00-24.00
Access to the pub is easy as it is opposite the U-Bahn and S-Bahn stations. The lines are U3, S1 and S3. From the station cross the footbridge and descend the steps to the pub.