Sunday, 5 August 2018

Craft Beer Guide to Berlin

It's taken me a while to get round to writing this post; it's something I probably should have written two years ago, and then a year ago but having come back from Berlin a month or two ago I think it's finally time to share my craft beer experiences!

I love traditional German lager and drinking in the proper locals pubs when I'm away but I also really enjoy seeking out the modern craft beer scene and Berlin certainly has a cracking one, so I'm going to tell you about some of my favourite craft beer spots in Berlin that you should visit.

Brewpubs:

Berlin has quite a few little brew pubs which are small and range from the traditional to the modern, all of which are pretty cool.

Vagabund Brewery - Vagabund is very modern and owned by American's I believe. It's a tiny, bright bar with a bit of street seating outside and maybe around 6 taps. You're probably not going to hear many conversations in German here! I had their American Pale Ale which was bright and hoppy as you'd expect.

Hops & Barley - This is a cool little place with the tiny brew kit proudly sitting in the main bar area; again, it's small with maybe around 4 taps. When I went, I had their IPA which really didn't impress me sadly.

BRLO - I've been a big fan of Brlo for quite a while after visiting their Brwfest last year (which sadly we missed by a week this time) and it was nice to come back and visit their massive, open sun trap of a beer garden. Brlo seems to encapsulate all styles of beer from traditional German pilsners and hefeweizens, all the way to hop forward pale ales and IPAs. I'm a big fan of their German IPA but I can't say I've ever had a bad beer from them!

Stone Brewing World - Yup, you'd expect this to be on the list! We visited last year and it is ridiculous... I don't think I've ever been in a bar that has so many taps (75!). It's just a big, beautiful building located in an old gas works and it's well worth visiting if you have the time, despite being around an hour from the centre of Berlin. Their core range beers which you've likely seen in Tesco are all good, but try some of their more experimental beers.

Heidenpeters - Located in the awesome Markthalle IX on the edge of trendy Kreuzberg, Heidenpeters is a must visit for modern and experimental styles of beer. Come here on Thursday evening for Street Food Thursdays where you can find any kind of food you could possibly want, and a deliciously creamy and hoppy Milkshake IPA.

Brauhaus Lemke - My advice is to visit the smaller Lemke under the railway arch and not the massive bar because the service is dreadful there. They brew a decent range of beers, the best of which is their Berliner Weisse.

Eschenbrau - This is my favourite brewpub that I've been to in Berlin. Weirdly, it appears to be attached to a kindergarden, so I can only assume that the brewer gets the kids to dig out the mash tun. They only have four beers on tap but we were so in love with the place that we decided to have all four.

The Bars:

Honestly, there are so many craft beer bars to choose from in Berlin ranging from international brands to new kids popping up selling all the craft beer that Germany and the rest of the world has to offer.

Brewdog - I guess I should probably mention the large international Scottish brewery. It's not much different to their bars here as they have a large amount of their own beers as well as other beers from around the world. The good news is that if you're an EFP shareholder, you can still redeem your discount here!

Mikkeller - Very bloody expensive but definitely worth popping in for some Scandi craft. It's a very modern and clean looking bar. Always a decent range of beers ranging from IPAs to sours and imperial stouts.

Protokoll - This was new to us but recommended by a few people. The focus here isn't so much on German craft beer as much as beer from the rest of the world. Naturally, I decided to go for the lagers that were available, Nordic Kiwi Brewers Lingon Lager was particularly crisp, dry and fruity.

LabOr - We fell in love with this bar after stumbling upon it accidentally! Apparently it's Hungarian owned so they mostly sell beers from their homeland, most notably from Mad Scientist Brewery. We ordered a tasting flight of 5x150ml beers to share which only cost around €9 which was really good value. All of the beers were pretty good but the standouts were West Coast Samurai IPA and Colonial English Bitter.

Hopfenreich - I think this was possibly the first craft beer bar to open in Berlin and definitely one of the best; it doesn't look like a modern craft beer bar as it's an old school street corner dive with the banks of taps converted from old industrial machinery and a taxidermied hedgehog. The line up here is predominantly German, and you'll always find beers from the Spent Collective; I usually order a Red Oat Ale which is full bodied, juicy and biscuity.

Monterey Bar - The last couple of times I've been to Berlin we didn't make it here so I made a point of doing so on our last trip. Again, it's a bit of a dive but I love it if only for the fact that you'll find heavy metal music blasting out of the speakers. The only negative for many people, however, will be that it is a smoking bar.

The Muted Horn - And finally, what is for my money the best craft beer bar in Berlin. Reasonable prices and a massive selection of beers from across Germany and the rest of the world. You'll usually find one line dedicated to a Franconian lager, a few Canadian beers, some Cloudwater and an ever changing range of German craft beer. It's always a difficult decision as to what to choose but you can't go wrong with anything on the board really! They'll occasionally have a street food truck outside but the great thing is that you're free to bring your own food in or order takeout!

There we have it; my almost complete line up of craft beer bars in Berlin. I'm sure there are loads more that I've not managed to go to so let me know where else I should head on my next trip!

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