I recently moved to Berlin. And I’m very excited about this. After an extended spell in Bonn and a short stay in Edinburgh cut even shorter by “The Thing”, I had some fresh perspective and was looking forward to a change of scenery. So I packed my suitcase, jumped on a train and moved to the German capital.
Berlin is the craft beer capital of Germany, probably. I am too lazy to count but the city is probably home to about 20-30 breweries and numerous craft beer bars and bottle shops etc. Some brewing companies have their own production facilities with tap rooms, whilst others adhere to the “Kuckoo”, or contract brewing model. But frankly, I’m less excited about internationalised beer culture these days. I don’t really want to drink IPA in a dimly lit bar in Kreuzberg surrounded by English-speaking expats. So I have set myself the goal to seek out some authentic Berlin pubs, beer gardens and brewpubs and gain an insight into local beer culture. So I thought I’d tell you about some interesting spots I have discovered in my first few weeks living here.
Tucked away in the courtyard of an apartment block in Sprengelkiez, Eschenbräu was founded in 2001 and is one of Berlin’s longest standing brewpubs. Viola and I arrived at their beer garden just before the 3pm opening. The waitress showed us to our seats, which were located in the shade underneath the big tree. By 4pm most tables were occupied, the beers were flowing and the outdoor kitchen was busy serving warm pretzels and Flammkuchen.
The tap list consisted of Pils, Dunkel, Weizen and seasonal Panke Gold (hoppy lager beer). I tend to start with the Pils when I am somewhere new, and this one certainly did not disappoint. It was bitter and dry with a slight haze. Viola had the apple juice, also pressed on site. The demographic was a pleasant mix of international students, old Berliners and local residents arriving with empty growlers to have them filled. Eschenbräu is only sold at the brewery and conveniently I pass through the neighbourhood on my cycle home from work.
Despite the masses of tourists commonly found in the government district of Berlin Mitte, Zollpackhof is a haven of peace and tranquillity. The Bavarian style beer garden serves Augustiner beer and south German specialities, such as Schweinshaxe and Obatzda.
The Biergarten is situated next to the River Spree and overlooks the impressive Bundeskanzleramt building. I met fellow expats and beer geeks Andreas and Louise Krenmair and we drank Augustiner Helles served from a wooden barrel. I felt obliged to order a Maß because Augustiner Helles vom Holzfass. Approximately every hour a bell would ring, which indicates that the next barrel of lager had been tapped. One mug turned into three over the course of a pleasant afternoon session as I chatted with the Austrian/Northern Irish couple.
Foersters Feine Biere
In the southwest of Berlin, hidden away in the residential district of Steglitz, the family owned Foersters Feine Biere is a beer-centric pub with a selection of keg and bottled German beers. Daniel and I arrived punctually at 5pm to drink freshly tapped Uerige Alt. Daniel is the brewer at Heidenpeters and originally comes from Düsseldorf. We were not going to miss this opportunity to drink Altbier in Berlin. It was even poured from gravity keg and served in the typical 250ml Alt glass. If I closed my eyes it felt like I was back in the Rhineland – even if just for a few minutes until the glass was empty.
I met owner Sven who served us beers and told me about his extensive collection of beer mugs. His dedication to high-quality German beer and sharing this passion with customers was immediately apparent. And this is something that makes Foersters so unique to Berlin, as the focus is purely upon German beers, mostly from Berlin and south Germany. An absolute gem of a pub, if you ask me.
Triftstraße 67, 13353 Berlin
Elisabeth-Abegg-Straße 1, 10557 Berlin
Bornstraße 20, 12163 Berlin