Photo courtesy of Rollberger.
In celebration of Berliner Braufest happening Sep 12-14 RAW Tempel, we continue our week-long series of microbrewery magic as Rachel Glassberg spotlights two independents: self-made men who simply want to give the people the beer they want, wetting whistles from Neukölln to Mitte.
The man behind the tourist-packed Brauhaus Mitte, the Brauhaus Lemke mini-franchise and the smaller Tiergartenquelle, Oliver Lemke will have you know he “started from nothing”. In 1999, inspired by his experience setting up breweries in Japan, Lemke hammered together a set of brewing equipment in a friend’s garage and opened a beer-and-yakitori joint in Hackescher Markt. One swap of chicken skewers for Wurstund Haxe later, the customers poured in. Since taking over Brauhaus Mitte in 2004, Lemke’s had to make similar compromises in terms of beer styles, but perhaps not for much longer: later this year, he’ll undergo a “brand redefinition”, bottling and selling small-batch experimental brews and including more beer info on his menus. “Germans take beer for granted, but drinking it for 40 years doesn’t make you an expert.”
Beer to try: Lemke Original, an amber-coloured take on Vienna lager found at all four of his locations.
An ex-employee of Lemke’s, Wilko Bereit, went on to start Rollberger in Neukölln’s old Kindl brewery in 2008. The punkish lifelong Neuköllner isn’t interested in experimentation, especially when it comes to the current wave of hoppy ales. “Sure, I like IPAs sometimes, but I have one and I’m finished! I want to go out and drink a few beers, you know?” He and business partner Nils Heins provide barrels of pilsner, red ale, wheat beer and bock to nearly 50 bars, restaurants and hotels throughout Berlin. They’re one of the biggest little breweries in town, but one glimpse of the massive leftover Kindl equipment dwarfing their small tanks quells fears of industrialisation – and Bereit takes pains to explain that his beers use all-organic, all-German ingredients.
Beer to try: Maibock, a malty lager that’s high in alcohol (7 percent) without hitting you over the head.
Brauhaus Lemke, Dircksenstr. 143, Mitte, Mon-Sun 12-24. Rollberger, Werbellinstr. 50, Neukölln, Thu 17-23, Fri-Sat 17-24, check selling points here.
Originally published in Issue #118, July/August 2013. Updated September 2013.