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Bier Berlin. Photo by David Ghione
Rainer Wallisser, owner of Bier Berlin in Moabit, is a German fed up with German beer, particularly the purity law that limits the brewing of beer to a mere four ingredients. He says that beer here is based on consistency, which vastly limits its possibilities and makes it quite simply boring. So Wallisser started monthly tastings – for Berliners thirsting for more playful foreign imports – in his cosy two-room shop, suitably decorated with a myriad of crates and wooden barrels.
The tasting proceeds like most: Wallisser introduces the beer, explains what brewery and country it comes from and adds special details, often accompanied by a personal story. Ten beers from Belgium, England, Scotland and Czech Republic are sampled over a three-hour period, which includes a hearty dinner such as a stew or ragout, with a vegetarian option available.
Around 30 people attend the tastings, which begin with beers that are crisp and refreshing, like a Samuel Smith Organic Raspberry or an Orval from Belgium. The tasting later moves to darker and oakier beers – the Boon L’Ancienne Oude Geuze and the Rodenbach Grand Cru. Most are from microbrewers and some are even brewed by Trappist monks, like the heftily titled De Molen Hemel & Aarde Smoked Imperial Stout.
Their alcohol content ranges from five percent to a staggering 18.2 percent, the prices from €1.90 to €15 (the most expensive in the store is the €25 Brew Dog). For beer drinkers on a budget, Rainer says that if he had to buy at the Späti, he’d go for Reissdorf Kölsch. Well then, bottoms up!
Bier Berlin, Kirchstr. 23, Moabit, SBhf Bellevue, Tasting with dinner €30. Monthly tastings are announced two weeks prior via their blog, www.berlinbiershop.com and email. Many are conducted in English.