Ber­lin Brews

Beer is an es­sen­tial part of any Ber­lin visi­tor’s itin­er­ary. Hilda Hoy summed up her fa­vorite spots for a tall, cold glass of unique lo­cal brews.

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Ev­ery­one knows Ger­many is the land of beer. But visi­tors to Ber­lin may be dis­ap­pointed to learn that the rol­lick­ing Ok­to­ber­fest-style beer halls they’ve seen in movies are down south in Bavaria. Still, there's plenty of beer cul­ture to ex­pe­ri­ence here in the cap­i­tal. From old-timey Brauerei mak­ing tra­di­tional pil­sner-style Ger­man beers to trendy mi­cro­brew­eries whip­ping up cre­ative craft brews, beer lovers will find them­selves spoiled for choice.

Right in the cen­ter of the ac­tion in Mitte is busy Brauhaus Lemke (Dir­ck­sen­str. 143, www.brauhaus-lemke.com), tucked into the red-bricked arches un­der the S-Bahn tracks at Hack­escher Markt. The brew­ery serves a small se­lec­tion of home-brewed Aus­trian- and Bo­hemian-style pil­sners, plus a hearty menu that leans heav­ily South Ger­man, from sausages to schnitzel. Not too far away is Pf­ef­fer­bräu (Schön­hauser Allee 176, www.pf­ef­fer­braeu.de), which was first built in 1893 but fell into dis­re­pair in the 20th cen­tury. The charm­ing hill­top build­ing re­cently got the restora­tion needed to re­store it to its for­mer glory and now serves a small but solid menu of Ger­man spe­cial­ties along­side the two house brews. To ac­com­pany your pint of hoppy, bot­tom­fer­mented pils or malty, ex­tra-dark beer, try the wild boar meat­balls, home-baked bread smeared with rich pork-crack­ling spread, or

Spät­zle noo­dles with three kinds of melted cheese.

Off the beaten tourist track in the north­ern Wed­ding dis­trict, Eschen­bräu (Trift­str. 67, www.es­chen­braeu.de) is a nofrills, down-to-earth pub that pre­dom­i­nately

draws a younger crowd, though pas­sion­ate beer fans of any age will find the trek up here worth their while. Un­like many other brew­eries in Ber­lin, Eschen­bräu dares to get ex­per­i­men­tal with its ro­tat­ing se­lec­tion of sea­sonal brews. From smoked beers to pale ales to dou­ble-strength bock lagers clock­ing in at 8-per­cent al­co­hol, the beers on tap on any given visit to the “beer cel­lar” are al­ways a sur­prise and al­ways im­pres­sive. The brew­ery even dis­tills its own fruit schnapps and presses all-nat­u­ral ap­ple juice.

For equally down-to-earth vibes plus a homey touch, head to Friedrichshain’s

Hops & Bar­ley (Wüh­lis­chstr. 22–23, www. hop­sand­bar­ley.eu), which in­hab­its a store­front space that was for­merly home to a butcher shop. An­tique tiles still dec­o­rate the walls but to­day, brew­ing, not butcher­ing, is the house spe­cialty. On tap are al­ways a light pil­sner, a malty dark brew, and a fruity wheat beer, plus one ro­tat­ing spe­cial sur­prise. Or try a Sch­langen­biss ("snakebite"), a blend of beer and Hops & Bar­ley’s house-made, bar­rel-fer­mented ap­ple cider.

For those that take their beer very se­ri­ously, a trip to Brauhaus Süd­stern (p. 49) should be in the cards. Master brewer Thorsten Schoppe gives tours of the brew­ing fa­cil­i­ties and even of­fers brew­ing cour­ses. If you’re happy to spe­cial­ize in drink­ing and leave the brew­ing to the ex­perts, try Süd­stern's light, dark, and wheat beers, each of them fresh and un­fil­tered, plus ro­tat­ing spe­cialty kegs like or­ganic spelt beer or Bri­tish-style bit­ter ales. A siz­able Ger­man menu, from Cur­ry­wurst to Flammkuchen, helps all the al­co­hol go down easy.

Founded in 2011 by three Amer­i­can friends who had grown tired of the lim­ited se­lec­tion of lo­cal beers, Vagabund

Brauerei (An­twer­pener Str. 3, www. vagabund­brauerei.com) takes the mi­cro­brew­ery one step smaller: As Ber­lin’s self-pro­claimed first nano brew­ery, Vagabund de­lib­er­ately keeps batches small to al­low for full cre­ativ­ity. The pint-sized tap­room is a fa­vorite des­ti­na­tion for fans of craft beer, and no won­der: The wel­com­ing bar serves not only pro­pri­etary pale ales and cre­ative con­coc­tions like Szechuan Sai­son, in­fused with co­rian­der seeds and Szechuan pep­per­corns, but also hard-to-find beers im­ported from around the world.

Then there’s Hei­den­peters (Eisen­bahn­str. 42–43, www.hei­den­peters.de). Though it’s one of the new­est mi­cro­brew­ers in Ber­lin and only open a few days a week, Hei­den­peters has al­ready at­tracted a staunchly loyal fol­low­ing with its ad­dic­tive range of unique, fresh ales. Lo­cated in Kreuzberg’s 19th-cen­tury Mark­thalle Neun (p. 28), Hei­den­peters brews its beer on site and serves it to happy cus­tomers on the days the mar­ket hall is open (Tues­day, Thurs­day, Fri­day, and Satur­day). The best time to come is Thurs­day be­tween 5–10pm, when the hall hosts its weekly Street Food Thurs­day event. Take your pick from amongst the nu­mer­ous food stands and then pull up a chair at one of Hei­den­peters’ pic­nic ta­bles, pair­ing your meal with a pint of their Thirsty Lady Pale Ale.

The hoppy pil­sners and dark, malty beers on tap at Brauhaus

Süd­stern (main im­age) and Pf­ef­fer­bräu (inset).

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