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Searching for more interesting suds than the usual pale ales and lagers? These ground-breaking Berlin breweries should sate your thirst for adventure.
Germans may be willing to get creative with many things, but beer, historically speaking, has not been one of them. Since 1516, the Reinheitsgebot, or German Beer Purity Law, has stated that beer can only consist of water, hops and barley. Proponents will argue that the law is responsible for the high standard that German breweries have maintained over the generations. Critics, meanwhile, often decry the stringent restrictions as downright draconian. Yet despite their best attempts, the German regulators couldn’t keep the craft beer revolution that swept through much of the rest of the world away forever. Slowly but surely, innovative microbreweries have been creeping into the capital. When you’ve grown tired of the typical deutsche suds, give these more daring numbers a try.
Leave it up to a rogue crew of Americans to push the local boundaries of brewing with experimental offerings like the Szechuan Saison, which gets its mouth-tingling touch from crushed Sichuan peppercorns and wild yeast. The Social Smoker pays homage to a classic German Rauchbier, but without the overpowering smokiness of some of the more traditional styles. As one might expect from three homesick expats, beers here tend to draw on the American style of craft brewing, which means you can expect lots of hop-heavy double IPAs.
A fixture in Friedrichshain since 2008, Hops and Barley brews up the usual mix of pilsners, wheat and dark beers, plus a rotating weekly special that tends to err more on the unconventional side. In addition to a range of unfiltered beers, they also serve their own crisp, refreshing cider and a respectable range of cold cuts—including vegan offerings, since this is Berlin—served with house-baked Treberbrot, bread made with leftover spent grains from the brewing process.
Beer geeks will flip for the vast selection at this recent addition to the scene, which includes unusual and even straight-up weird combinations like the Araka, a pumpkin ale with dates and green bananas; the Apfelstout, made with chocolate and caramelised apples; the Erdnuss-Schoko-Stout, with cacao and roasted peanuts; the Schneewittchen, a wheat beer with aromatic elderflowers; and Mokka Pause, with locally roasted coffee beans. There are even two beers inspired by pizza, one of which uses oregano and the other of which incorporates tomato sauce to channel everyone’s favourite Neapolitan pie.