Beer. It’s a wonderful thing. A wonderful thing that Germany happens to be very good at making. From the light, crisp sweetness of Pilsner and Helles to the cloudy meal-in-a-glass of Hefeweizen and dark and malty Doppelbock and Schwarzbier, Germany pretty much wrote the book on classic beer making.
But what about all these new-fangled craft beers that have sprung up in London and Williamsburg? Can Berlin compete when it comes to hoppy IPAs and chocolatey stouts? In a word, yes — but you need to know where to look. Handily, tip Berlin’s resident booze expert Peter Eichhorn has scoured the city and compiled a comprehensive list of the best craft beer spots in Berlin.
Stone Brewing Tap Room
The cult California brewery with a soft spot for IPAs invested 25 million dollars in an enormous complex comprising a brewery, restaurant, beer garden and event location. As we’ve reported before, that didn’t quite work out. But fret not, you can still enjoy classic Stone brews like Arrogant Bastard, Ruination IPA or Cali-Belgique as their Prenzlauer Berg Tap Room is still open and in operation. The menu also includes a number of other international and German craft beers, plus a street food-inspired menu.
Beer from the traditional wine country of Italy? Owner Manuele Colonna has great expectations for the German capital and predicts “Berlin is set to become the place-to-be for beer culture in Europe in the next few years.” Beers from Milanese brewery Lambrate, a classic on the Italian craft-beer scene, are the main focus of the drinks served in a rustic pub atmosphere. An impressive 18 copper taps cover a range that includes wheat beer and Viennese Lager. Expertly curated traditional Franconian beers are a hat tip to German beer culture. Delicious dishes of cheese, porchetta, cold cuts, sausages and panini.
The Scottish brewery known for its high-alcohol beverages is anything but stingy when it comes to its selection of beers. Alongside their own classics, like Punk IPA or Dead Pony Club, Brew Dog serves a wide variety of beers from across the globe. 30 draught beers and around 100 bottles and cans are the perfect accompaniment to pizza and board games. The industrial chic decor is rustic and modern in equal measure. Outside seating is available in the summer. Brew Dog also hosts regular tasting events and other beer training courses. They have also taken over Stone Brewing’s massive Mariendorf beergarden and brewery. The beautiful surroundings of the gasworks dating from 1901 will be rebranded as DogTap. According to their social media, the opening is due soon – we’re counting the days!
Sophisticated beer gastronomy in a modern container complex. An assortment of 40 disused overseas shipping containers assembled to make an exciting mix of brewery, beer bar and restaurant. “Brlo” is the historic Slavic name for Berlin and it has become synonymous with finest capital city beers from Berliner Weisse to Porter from the vats of master brewer Michael Lembke. Meanwhile, head chef Ben Pommer provides a selection of excellent dishes, several fresh from the smoker and featuring lots of veg. Relaxed beer garden in the summer.
Foersters Feine Biere
Beer sommelier Sven Förster is passionately dedicated to German brewing culture with its wide variety of styles, from Altbier to Doppelbock. With a choice of beers on tap ranging from traditional Franconian to Fiege pils and modern India Pale Ales from up-and-coming craft brewers, the selection is excellent and the advice given is highly knowledgeable, friendly and skilled. Around 80 speciality beers are served together with a small range of snacks in a welcoming local setting. In the summer, the picturesque terrace serves as an oasis of calm eschewing any need to be seen as hip or trendy.
Russia is often overlooked as a beer nation – something Protokoll hopes to change. Russian craft-brewery Zagovor – perhaps known for its well-made and subtly conceived Midnight Moscow IPA – has a holding in this rustically designed beer bar. Lemon wheat beer from Stone Brewing and a straight-up lager by Ayinger are also on tap – premium products at prices to match, while the other drinks on offer are by all means fairly priced. In short: highly recommended for beer experts, but also for anyone keen to try something new.
Belgian beers are in high demand among those in the know and are some of the tastiest and most sophisticated in the world. There’s no better place in Berlin to study Belgian brewing than with Bart Neyrinck at “Herman”, which takes its name from Neyrinck’s German teacher at school. How about a refreshing Belgian white with notes of orange and coriander? Or a ripe, fruity sour beer? Or one of the complex Trappist beers à la Chimay and Orval? The owner has a plethora of fascinating facts on hand about all 120 beers on the menu and will provide the perfect introduction for beginners.
A likeable local brewery at Ostkreuz. The bar, visible through the window front of this innovative brewery, shines bright and inviting. The current beer menu, which changes regularly, is written in chalk on the black back wall. Tasting sets are also available. The classic creation by innovative master brewer Sebastian Pfister is the malty, highly quaffable Belgian Ale “Stralauer Blond”. New creations are added every week for real variety. The brewery regularly runs brewing courses and even boasts a summery outdoor area in front of the bar area.
A classic – no, the classic on Berlin’s creative beer scene. This relaxed, rustic bar, a traditional corner pub with a twist if you will, is constantly brewing up new surprises. The staff busily pulls pints from small taster size to a full tankard from the 22 taps. This is the place for serious tasting sessions or social drinking, a meeting place for both locals and Berlin’s craft beer scene. Often, brewers visit for events, to present their latest special beers and enjoy a chat with the craft beer geeks.
In 2006, former teacher and athlete Mikkel Borg Bjergsø created his travelling brewing project, “Gypsy Brewing” in Copenhagen. Today, Mikkeller beers are renowned the world over for both the unique brewing style and the clean, highly contemporary graphic design. The bar in Torstraße, appropriately immersed in Nordic tastes, keeps things equally clean and simple and is manned by an amiable team serving fascinating specialities, such as coffee-stout, wood-barrel-aged special beers and experimental sour beer from the 24 taps.
Friendly hipster bar with a minimalist industrial design and pleasant, knowledgeable staff. A rotating selection of often very rare beers is served from the 22 taps. The tasting concept, where the guest selects four draught beers, which are served on a wooden board in 0.15 litre glasses, is wonderful. They also have dozens of varieties of bottled beer. For the nerds out there – the name of the bar cites author Thomas Pynchon, an icon of post-modernist literature.
This pub institution, which formerly resided in Wedding, relocated to a spot directly opposite Nordbahnhof in Berlin Mitte. A spacious venue with many corners and alcoves, it serves an extensive selection of beers, with bottled speciality brews from IPA to Imperial Stout alongside the 20 draught taps. Doors open from 8 a.m., though only coffee is served at that hour. The skilled team provides outstanding advice and also host frequent beer and entertainment events including “Tap-Takeover”, pub quizzes, screenings of sporting events and karaoke.
Original text by Peter Eichhorn for tip Berlin’s Berlin Bars special edition, featuring the 133 best bars in Berlin. Translation courtesy of Kristina MacVicar, Devin Martini and Robin Thießen.