Noble Brewer beer club is excited about beer and beer drinkers all over the world! So we wouldn’t want you to miss out on the greatest country for beer lovers in the world: Germany. Here are the best places to enjoy beer in Berlin!
Separating beer from Germany would be like trying to separate baseball from the U.S. of A. - and for good reason. Germany is where beer as we know it was born. Germans were the first to use hops to make beer all the way back in the 12th century, before Germany was even a country. And today, beer is an inseparable part of the culture throughout the country, which has nearly 1,300 breweries that produce over 5,000 brands of beer. In April 2016, Germany will "celebrate" 500 years of Reinheitsgebot ("Beer Purity Law") which set in stone the ingredients allowed to make beer: water, malt, hops, and yeast. There's only one problem: diversity.
Roughly 60% of beer consumed in Germany is Pilsner, and the rest (with few minor exceptions) are all some other kind of lager. But as much as I enjoy an occasional Pilsner or a Hefeweizen, who needs 5,000 different kinds of fizzy yellow beer? The Hauptstadt, Berlin, with all its reputation for creativity, individualism, and chaos, has been just as big a bore for beer lovers as the rest of the country. Until now.
This very moment, Berlin is in the beginning stages of a craft beer revolution. Younger brewers, dissatisfied with traditional recipes and processes but filled with the creative passions, are bringing to the German beer scene inspiration from all around the world to brew eccentric ales, porters, stouts and everything else you can imagine. The traditional German brewers call these young rebels “Querdenker” (literally, “weird-thinkers”).
Just three years ago when I first moved here, you couldn't find an IPA to save your life. Since then, over a dozen new beer bars have leapt onto the scene with a fury, promoting new Berlin & German brewers who are pushing the envelope and importing their favorite beers from every corner of the globe. Guided by Sylvia Kopp of Berlin Beer Academy, Stefan Krüger of Beergeeks, Tiffany Herrington of Berlin Beer Week, and my own obsession with visiting every new beer bar that opens up in this city, here are five bars on the front lines of the good fight for flavor in the city of strange, Berlin:
1. Monterey Craft Beer Bar: Craft Beer, Whisky, & Rock-n-Roll
Whether you're a lifelong Pilsner drinker who's cautiously curious about this whole "craft beer" thing everyone's talking about and you want to wade in gently with something a little different, or you're an Untapped addict hunting for some bonkers brew to cross off your list, Monterey has got you covered. The first bar to tap a keg from Stone Brewing Berlin, located just a short tram ride from Alexanderplatz, Monterey's 10 taps and over 120+ bottle list (rotating almost daily) is sure to satisfy any pallet. Owned and operated by Adie and Vanessa, who also run Berlin's best & most unique city tours - Alternative Berlin - Monterey is, in Adie's words, "a dive bar with clean bathrooms". Enter to a red lit front room and be greeted by the friendly, knowledgeable staff (most of whom also play in local bands). The atmosphere is unintimidating for new beer lovers and just plain chill. Hand painted psychedelic murals commissioned by local artists cover the purple walls as rock from Adie's impressive record collection serenades you into a beer-induced trip you won't soon forget. So, as long as you're not looking for a nice spot to sip a Bud Light Lime listening to the latest Miley Cyrus, you're in for a great night at Monterey Craft Beer Bar.
Find it Here: Danziger Str. 61, 10435 Berlin, Prenzlauer Berg
2. Kaschk: Coffee, Craft Beer, and Shuffleboard
Centrally located just off of Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Kaschk does two things in equally excellent measure: hand roasted coffee and hand crafted beer. Come during the day and step out of Berlin into a cafe that makes you feel like you've been teleported to Seattle or Portland, with a variety of world-class coffee roasted locally by the world famous The Barn Roastery. Upon entering Kaschk, time slows down. Floor-to-ceiling windows in the front and rear let in the sun on people sitting around the rustic wood tables working on laptops, reading a book, or just meeting up with friends. Kaschk specializes in Scandinavian craft beers, which take up 60-70% of their list, while they also feature great local microbreweries and a smattering of international favorites.
Come in after dark and it feels more like a house party. Groups sit around as the conversation flows in equal measure with the beer. Make your way downstairs to play a game of shuffleboard on Germany’s first shuffleboard tables, and these babies are BIG.
With great coffee, delicious beer, and shuffleboard, Kaschk is the home you always wish you had. Did I mention shuffleboard?
Find it Here: Linienstraße 40, 10178 Berlin, Mitte
3. HERMAN Belgian Bar: Arise children of Belgium, the day-drinking begins
Image Credit: tip-berlin.de
The only non-craft-beer-bar on this list, HERMAN simply cannot be left out of any serious discussion of Berlin’s best beer bars. A truly authentic Belgian bar - the only one you’ll find this side of the German border - HERMAN is owned and operated by the Belgian Beer Ambassador of Berlin, Bart. (I'm not kidding. Bart has been invited to the Belgian embassy on no less than six occasions to curate beer menus for special events and personally tend bar for visiting dignitaries.)
Located on Schönleinstraße near Berlin's biggest Sunday flea market, Mauer Park, HERMAN’s cozy, intimate atmosphere warms your belly even before the beer has a chance to do the work. Most impressively, they offer between 120 and 140 beers representing every Belgian style from all 10 Belgian provinces. Bart rotates the list on a weekly basis, and most days he can be found behind the bar pouring beers, chatting up customers, and guiding patrons through the intimidatingly-long menu to find the beer that's just right for them. Whether you’re a Belgian novice or a total snob, you’re in good hands at HERMAN.
Find it Here: Schönhauser Allee 173 10119 Berlin, Prenzlauer Berg
4. The Castle Pub: Craft Bar & Cocktails
Berlin is a vast and sprawling city, each neighborhood with its own unique personality and character. Once one neighborhood becomes "cool", the process of gentrification begins: boutiques stores take over underground clubs and dive bars, rents rise, but the scene doesn't die. It just scoots over to the next part of town, and right now, the cool kids are all moving to Wedding. Owners Gekko and Ben (who also own the super-sexy F-Bar just around the corner) are working to make it the heart of Berlin's burgeoning craft beer scene.
This enormous Irish pub (around 320-square-meters) is actually two bars in one: one classic, one craft. Enter to find a bar for your traditional beer lover: pilsners galore, plus Guinness (for the adventurous). Step to the right, though, and take a seat at the “Craft bar” built for beer geeks. Focused primarily on international craft beer, Gekko and Ben hunt down their favorites from the US, England, France, Italy, Poland and… Well, you get the picture. With 12 new taps bringing their number up to 20, Gekko told me they want Castle Pub to be a melting pot for every kind of beer drinker. Those who have never had an ale can feel safe knowing that there’s plenty of easy drinking lagers, but the international smattering of creative concoctions is bound to tempt even the staunchest German to try something new. Everybody wins.
Image Credit: weddingweiser.wordpress.com
A favorite venue for Tap Takovers, hosting weekly pub quizzes, poker nights, karaoke, and live music, the joint is always jumping. Oh, they serve a mean meal too: mile high burgers, home fries, and fish & chips with batter made from Newcastle Brown Ale makes an expat feel right at home. Come hungry. Come thirsty… Just come to The Castle Pub.
Find it Here: Hochstraße 2, 13357 Berlin, Wedding
5. Hopfenreich: Craft Beer. What? You wanted something else?
Unlike the other bars on this list, Hopfenreich is all craft and only craft. From the handmade tables constructed from scaffolding boards to the taps built into an antique industrial drill and lathe, down to each beer on offer, Hopfenreich is all about the craft. Making no apologies and offering nothing for the timid or weak of heart, this is a bar for beer geeks with 14 constantly rotating taps (plus 8 more set to arrive in the next two weeks). Here you will always find something you haven’t had before.
Never without some solid IPAs, sours like Gose or Berliner Weisse (don’t ask for syrup here), Stouts, Porters, or seasonal beers, Hopfenreich emphasizes and promotes Berlin’s exploding craft beer scene, featuring microbreweries like BRLO, BrauKunstKeller, Heidenpeters, Spent Brewers Collective, and Vagabund (just to name a few). With beer books scattered throughout the bar – illuminated almost entirely by candlelight at night – this is the place to let out the beer snob you’ve been holding in all these years. Drink beer, talk beer, read beer, and sing its praises!
Image Credit: www.exberliner.com
If you’re still getting your feet wet and wanting to expand your palate, have no fear. Each member of Hopfenreich’s staff is fully trained before they step behind the bar, each taking courses on beer styles and tasting at Sylvia Kopp’s Berlin Beer Academy, so don’t be afraid to ask some questions and expand your knowledge of Ninkasi’s sweet nectar.
Find it Here: Sorauer Str. 31, 10997 Berlin, Kreuzberg
To say the craft beer scene in Berlin is exploding is almost an understatement. Every month that passes, more bars and breweries open in exponentially increasing numbers. They’ve all got their own flare and flavor, but here are four places whose opening is going to add hectoliters of fuel to the already burning blaze:
1. Stone Brewing Berlin - The first American craft brewer to own and operate their own brewery in Europe, Stone Brewing hasn’t even opened their doors yet and already their seductive influence has begun corrupting even the purest of German beer drinkers. Craft Beer virgins be warned. The Gargoyle’s coming to town.
2. BrewDog - After rumors and rumblings around town for months, the Scottish punks of beer have just announced that they have purchased a location in Mitte for their new Berlin brewery.
3. HOME: World Beer Bar, Friedrichshain - Welcome to your new living room.
4. The PIER - Swimsuits and beer. Need I say more?
This article was written by Benjamin Owen, an inveterate traveler who found a passion for craft beer in Seattle before ending up in Berlin, where he works tirelessly to promote craft beer by drinking & talking about it to strangers daily. With his reluctant childhood friend, Chase Wreyford, they created escapingthevoid.com to inspire & encourage people to forget about the challenges and do the crazy things they've always wanted to do. They are now slowly turning it into a blog about bikes, beer and individuals pursuing their passions. Check it out!