Like its hilarious boot-shaped steins, Germany’s beer culture has always been known for its depth rather than its breadth. It’s still pretty common to walk into a bar and ask for your preferred size of beer instead of a rundown of what’s on tap. And that’s what makes Berlin’s burgeoning beer bar scene so amazing -- there are finally new twists on old classics, solid craft brews, and plentiful imports. Here are the best places to sit down and enjoy a cold one:
As one of Berlin’s longest running craft breweries, Eschenbräu’s has definitely set the bar high for tasty beer in a comfy taproom. Aside from three year-round microbrews (a pilsner, dunkel, and hefeweizen), there’s a range of delicious, full-bodied seasonals, too. The outdoor garden, serving brezeln in a Bavaria-esque atmosphere, is also quite swell.
On Hopfenreich’s blackboard menu, there are always 22-some beers, which means solid range from one bar stool, my friends. Local brewers stop in every once in awhile to talk hops with guests and introduce their latest masterpieces, and every Tuesday the bar organizes a weekly tour of the city’s craft beer hotspots.
Hops & Barley is part-traditional Kneipe (a pub-like Berlin bar usually verging on a dive) and part-taproom, which means you’ll be sipping brews next to the same copper kettles where they came from. Like the watering holes of yore, the owner also offers a decent-priced holiday apartment upstairs above the bar, so call this your back-up plan after having one too many.
This taproom and brewery opened a couple years ago thanks to a crowdfunding campaign. Vagabund’s broad selection of signature craft beers, Belgian ales, and southern German lagers is enough to make any beer enthusiast feel at home -- yearly memberships and a “we close when we close” motto definitely help too.
BKK’s divey interior should tip you off that sacrificing brain cells for beer is standard here. It’s one of the few bars in town that serves by the pitcher, and there are strong specialty pours like the Holy Shit double IPA and the 13% ABV Black Friday black beer (so beware of a rough morning after). Check out the projection room where you’ll usually find some German and international football.
Berlin winter can be depressing, but Heidenpeters seasonal porters kind of make up for it (or at least help to numb the feeling substantially). This minimalistic bar inside of Markthalle Neun offers a bunch of ales, stouts, and craft brews from around Germany and Europe. Heidenpeters closes on Thursdays at 10pm, and 8 pm on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, so clock this one in as a necessary pub crawl warm-up.
HERMAN’s quite literally has 99 bottles of beer on the wall, give or take. At the helm of this Belgian beer bar is, appropriately, a Belgian guy named Bart, and he’s usually around to give a few good recommendations. They usually carry a few Trappist numbers, so that’s a decent place to start.
Head brewer Thorsten Schoppe is known for delivering punchy yet delicious creations, which are a perfect match to this bar’s upbeat ambience. There’s often live music and football games on screen, not to mention a happening outdoor beer garden overlooking Hasenheide Park.
1. Brauerei EschenbräuTriftstrasse 67, Berlin
2. HopfenreichSorauer Str. 31, Berlin
3. Hops & BarleyWühlischstr. 22, Berlin
4. Vagabund BrauereiAntwerpener Strasse 3, Berlin
5. Bier Kombinat Kreuzberg (BKK)Mannteufelstr. 53, Berlin
6. HeidenpetersEisenbahnstr.42-43, Berlin
7. HERMANSchönhauser Allee 173, Berlin
8. Brauhaus SüdsternHasenheide 69, Berlin
Although the 2000s baby brewery Brauerei Eschenbräu is know for its seasonals that dominate the beer garden's menu, its still got a handful of mainstays to satisfy beer drinkers of all kinds: a malty pils, a chocolatey dark, a fruity wheat, and a citrusy wheat. They're all easy to drink, and they all pair well with the snacks and other fare that rotates frequently on the beergarden's menu. The cellar's got a traditional German style and plenty of tables, but an evening under the beer garden's winding tree branches and string lights is not to be missed out on.
Located in the Kreuzberg neighborhood, Hopfenreich serves up a rotating list of craft brews on tap, many of which are from local purveyors.
With its tiled floors & walls, exposed pipes, and visible brewing gear, Hops & Barley has a distinct English brewpub vibe to it. And while Germany generally trumps England in just about everything (football, cars, delicious sausages), this Berlin spot does well taking cues from the Brits. The Hops & Barley crew regularly brews pilsners, dark pils, wheats, and cider, and, on occasion they even bring out special IPAs and brown lagers.
This microbrewery is the project of three American ex-pats who were home brewers back in the states. Although the shop is currently only open on weekends, Vagabund is hard at work on small batch IPAs, Szechuan saisons, and coffee stouts.
This shadowy Berlin pub doles out a wide range of suds, including German-style bocks & dunkels, as well as some specialty brews and a number of wines and liquors.
Johannes Heidenpeter is operating his newish brewing project out of Kreuzberg's Markthalle Neun, offering market customers a range of IPAs, pale ales, saisons, and, come winter, stouts and porters.
Ideally, you'd hit up a establishment in Belgium for a great assortment of Belgian beers, but while you're in Germany, Herman will do the trick and its friendly bar staff will help you pick the perfect brew for your palate.