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Berlin: Craft Beer Fest

craft beer festival

People always think of beer when they think of Germany, but what might be surprising to some is that there is traditionally not that much variation in German beer. Different areas have their own specialties, of course, but for the most part, you’re stuck with big-name brands like Becks, Pilsner Urquell, Krombacher, etc. Here in the northern part of the country, Germans especially love their Pilsner. Of course you can find Weizenbier/Weißbier and the occasional regional beer like Kölsch, but even then, I don’t feel like the spectrum of flavor extends very wide on either end. And it’s not a bad thing either, as I love crisp, fresh beer.

However, craft beer–which I took for granted in the states–is on the up and up in Berlin, and the result is brewers making beers with more variation in body and flavor. Not all of it is hoppy, or dark, or rich, like IPAs and stouts. In fact, there are plenty of traditional craft brewers that focus on lighter drinks like pale ales and lagers. But it’s nice that there are homegrown options to bigger names. Quite a few new breweries and craft beer bars have arrived on the scene since I moved to Berlin, and it’s a good feeling to be able to not only support them, but actually get to talk with the people making the beer and make personal connections.

Along with the increased interest in craft beer, last September saw the first craft beer festival, held at RAW-tempel. I thought it was going to be an annual thing, but much to my surprise, there was another one at the end of May. So I headed on down on a perfectly sunny day and met up with various groups of friends and their groups of friends.

In the six or so hours I spent there, I ended up trying five beers. First was the Rotbier from Beer4Wedding, followed by a taste of Vagabund’s Szechuan Saison, a cilantro-infused beer. I didn’t love it (though I didn’t hate it), so I went the safe route and had the DIPA. Next was a mild KickStarter Pale Ale from Flying Turtle Beer‘s bicycle tap, followed by the Red Oat Ale from Spent Brewers Collective (twice). To round off the evening, I had a Berliner Framboise from Brewbaker, which may have been my favorite.

I wish I had taken more photos, but to be perfectly honest, I was having far too much of a good time to even do that; living in the moment isn’t such a bad thing.

craft beer festival

craft beer festival

craft beer festival

craft beer festival

craft beer festival

craft beer festival

  • How awesome that craft beer is on the rise in Germany. Every time I’ve talked to a German about the craft beer scene in the States they laugh and huffaw about how German beer laws are the laws of the land. I keep telling them that the moment they try an IPA or a pumpkin beer that they would quickly change their minds. 😉 This place looks awesome!

    • I agree. I do appreciate the purity law since I am vegan and that means by default all German beers are vegan. But it’s nice to see them expanding their flavor horizons and trying to introduce a wider variety of taste. I can’t wait to see how the scene here continues to develop!

  • ebe porter

    Preach lady! Great post and love the pics 🙂

    • Aw shucks, I just had some really great models.

  • There’s a brewery in Munich called Crew, who make THE best IPA – Munich Summer. You really should try it if you get your hands on it. I recently tried Berlin’s Holy Shit Ale (10% alcohol and packs a serious punch), but I don’t know too many other Berlin craft beers, so I’ve noted down a few you mentioned 🙂

    Lovely pictures!

    • Thanks for the recommendation!

      I had the Holy Shit Ale too (tried a sip of it) and it was alright. Not the biggest IPA fan here, but it wasn’t too bitter, which I liked.

  • Rory Lawton

    Just saw this post. Nice article.

    Here is an overview map of all breweries in Berlin, in case you missed any in the festival. Try them all! 🙂
    http://www.berlincraftbeer.com/berlin-craft-beer-locations/

    • Oooh, nice comprehensive list, Rory. Thanks for sharing!

      (Also, don’t forget Hopfenreich on Sorauer Str.)

    • Rory Lawton

      Good catch!

      I presented their first technical beer tasting there last night, Hops of the World – just forgot to add them.

      Thanks!

    • Awesome! I really wanted to go to that, but work… It’s my Kiez so I hope to catch the next tasting there.

  • Rachel Murphree

    I love this post! When I was a grad student I worked in a brewery and became a total beer geek. The brew master was all about brewing traditional styles of beer, and I learned to really appreciate that artistry and the science of making a really good beer. -Rachel @ With Love, Rachel

    • How fun! I’ve never tried to make beer but I know it’s not a particularly easy science, so I always try to appreciate craft beers even if they aren’t my thing, because a lot goes into it.