Around Berlin in 80 Beers
By Peter Sutcliffe
£9.99 including P&P to UK mainland.
Few places enjoy a history as complex as Berlin, a city that has seen it all. Part of our philosophy is that touring the world in search of decent beer eases the path to knowledge and understanding as it must by definition involve going to the places where local people go. There is no better place to explore in eighty beers.
Current edition: July 2011
Published by: Cogan & Mater
Peter Sutcliffe has shared his life between homes in London and Berlin for many years, having worked as a defence analyst and former NATO apparatchik. His interest in German beers goes back thirty years to his days as a student there in the early 1980s. Around Berlin in 80 Beers, compiled from his personal researches, is his first book.
There are few more seductive cities in the world than Berlin, the home of Frederick the Great and Count Otto van Bismarck, Kurt Weil and Sally Bowles and the place where Jesse Owens and Josef Goebbels reached the peak of their fame.
In its centre and around its easily accessible districts are found old-style estaminets, modern brewpubs, neighbourhood bars and oddly themed ‘special’ cafés, each in their own way telling a part of the story of the city that lay on the most obvious fault line of the post-war divide.
The fifth in the series of ‘Around in 80 Beers’ series differs from the rest in that its author Peter Sutcliffe uses his extensive knowledge of the city, its history and its beer world to lead the reader on a pub crawl of all the cultures.
Peter Sutcliffe’s personal selection of 80 beer gardens, restaurants, brewery taps and old-fashioned boozers gives the reader a unique insight into a side of the German capital that even the locals will not always see.
In the preface to this book written in the Spring of 2011, I expressed the hope that all 80 selected pubs would still be open in 5 years’ time. Well, over three of those years have now passed and I am relieved and pleased to announce that only four have definitely shut-down, these being #3 Alte Kolkschenke, the shop #9 Bier Spezialitäten Laden, #61 Reuterstuben and - the saddest of all - #25 Gambrinus, which I think was the victim of an expired lease. Moreover, two others have changed their provenance and not for the better, these being #4 Ambrosius Beer Club (now ‘Fitcher’s Vogel’, a trendy late-night music venue) and #29 Glühwurm (now ‘Baker’s’, a neighbourhood restaurant with mainstream pilsners). A further negative development is that pubs across the city seem to be shortening their opening times, so please check. In the suburbs, it is now difficult to find a good one open before 5pm.
But happily, positive developments over the past few years more than match the bad news above, and this will be fully reflected in the second edition of this Guide that is tentatively scheduled for Autumn 2015. The new micro-brewery movement continues to innovate and expand, with the arrival of five new breweries and a fabulous new pub that features their products as well as those from other artisan breweries in Germany and from around the world. Some of these are “cookoo” breweries in that they have no or limited brewing plant of their own, and the guiding hand of Schoppe Bräu – long established at the Südstern brewpub (#71) – seems to lie behind a couple of them. They are:
- Vagabund is a brand new brewpub at 3 Antwerpener Straße in Wedding (U6 Seestraße) opened by three young Americans determined to introduce Germans to their lost beer heritage and to other beer styles too. Their 8% double IPA is worth the trip alone. Officially open from 7pm (can be 6pm) Tuesday to Saturday.
- Heidenpeters is a small ale brewery in the cellar of Markthalle Neun, 42 Eisenbahnstraße (U1 Görlizer Bahnhof) with a small bar in the market that opens on Thursday from 5pm, Friday from 2pm and Sunday from noon. Their eclectic beer range varies constantly, including a Saison, Porter, IPA, and a spiced Bock Kölsch.
- Beer4Wedding has no home brewery or pub, but their innovative and tasty beers are available in several pubs & shops in Wedding – try ‘Spiritus Mundi’ at 40 Nazarethkirchstraße or ’Studio 8’ at 8 Grüntaler Straße.
- Pfefferbräu is an impressive development by Schoppe Bräu at the Pfefferburg (the site of an old brewery at 176 Schönhauser Allee - U2 Senefelder Platz) that opened in early November 2013 showcasing three beers – a well-crafted Helles, a meaty Dunkles and a superb golden Bock. To be christened ‘Nordstern’ perhaps?
- Flessa Bräu is another new brewery at 39 Petersburger Straße (U5 Frankfurter Tor) with three impressive regular beers – Pils, Export & Hefeweisse – plus seasonal offerings such as a Red Lager and a Bock. Their beers can be found at ‘Helga’ (round the corner at 31 Straßmann Straße) and at ‘Trommel’ (58 Kastanien Allee – U8 Rosenthaler Platz).
- Das Meisterstück at 3/4 Hausvogteiplatz (U2 Hausvogteiplatz) is a smart bar/restaurant that features over 100 bottled beers of which roughly half are from German (mainly Berlin) micros. This pub is proof that there IS a German craft beer movement, albeit still miniscule compared to elsewhere in Europe.
The additional good news is that none of the existing fifteen Berlin micro-breweries has closed down, although Brewbaker (#16) is moving its brewery to a new site nearby that will enable it to raise output to meet strong demand. Their existing bar inside the Arminiusmarkthalle will continue to serve their innovative beers, including a really special bottled Berliner Weisse that utterly outclasses the standard and ubiquitous Berliner Weisse offering from Kindl. Stone Brewery from the US will be opening a major brewery/restaurant/bar/shop complex in the southern suburb of Mariendorf in 2015/16 and a micro brewery is due to be installed in the Circus Hostel at Rosenthaler Platz early next year. Just along Torstraße (at #65) from Rosenthaler Platz is the 1950’s time-warp pub Prassnik, that serves a more than acceptable house Helles and opens and shuts late.
Other positive news would include the opening of two new Munich beer halls to complete the set, these being Hofbräu München at 30 Karl-Liebnecht Straße (U2,U5,U8 & S-Bahn Alexander Platz) which is huge, lively and authentic; and the more sedate Löwenbräu at 65 Leipziger Straße (U2 Stadtmitte). The tap at Rollberg Brewery at 50 Werbellin Straße (U7 Rathaus Neukölln) now sells its superb Helles, Rot & Weisse beers, plus seasonal bocks, from 5pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Söhnel is a smart canal-side restaurant in the south-western suburbs (50 Neue Kreisstraße, Kohlhasenbrück) that commissions (and will soon brew) two very pleasant house beers. Finally, three great beer shops to replace the one that closed; the highly recommended Berlin Bier Shop at 23 Kirchstraße (U9 Turmstraße; S-Bahn Bellevue), Hopfen & Malz at 57 Triftstraße (U6/U9 Leopold Straße), and Ambrosetti at 103 Schiller Straße (U2 Deutsche Oper). My overall conclusion is that Berlin is now indisputably the craft beer capital of Germany. Along with Bamberg, it is in fact the only serious contender.
Listings: please note that on pages 4 & 5, the numbers of all pubs between 26 and 74 inclusive are out by one (i.e. each number needs to be reduced by one), EXCEPT the “Boozers/Unspoilt Taverns” list which is correct.