Disclaimer: Visit Berlin supported this trip with lodging and the WelcomeCard covering public transportation within the city for 78 hours. As always, all opinions are my own.
Berlin is a city that manages to blend hipster culture with romanticism. We know Berlin as the modern epicenter of free-range artistic expression where an artist can still get by without fully sacrificing their creative ambition by working a soulless day job just to get by (for now). Much of Berlin flies in the face of traditional Germany where Ordnung Muß sein (there must be order). When the wall fell, artists were encouraged (and still are) to leave their mark whether it’s an impressive mural with deep political meaning or a childish Bart Simpson-style tag. That sentiment can still be seen throughout the sprawling German capital.
With that in mind, Berlin is not surprisingly the best place to be for drinking German craft beer. In the spirit of traditional Germany, there’s the Rheinheitsgebot better known in the English-speaking world as the beer purity law. This law, in the books since 1516, regulates how certain styles of beer are made. You’ll see bottles of German beer, imported or otherwise, proudly stamp a label that says, “gebraut nach dem Deutschen Rheinheitsgebot” promising consumers that they’re drinking a beer that was brewed following the rules.
There’s no denying that this has resulted in some reliably fantastic German beers whether it’s an Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen from Bamberg, a Paulaner Hefeweizen from Munich, or my hometown Altbier favorite from Füchsen in Düsseldorf. But there’s also no denying that a law like the Rheinheitsgebot has stifled German creativity when it comes to brewing, putting the brewing powerhouse behind its European neighbors when it comes to brewing craft beer. That said, over the past decade, Germany has done an admirable job of catching up with a sudden influx of craft brewers as if it were a decade ago in the U.S. While most cities still lack the proliferation of beer bars where you can drink a variety beers, craft or otherwise, from around the country, Berlin feels like its own city-state where expectations of German homogeny are thrown out the window. To prove my case, I’ll share a bit about my recent visit to Berlin for the explicit purpose of drinking craft beer.