Hop heaven

Getting sick of all the run-of-the-mill beers you've been drinking in your local Kneipe lately? We tasted some of the innovative craft beers at the newly opened Hopfenreich to let you in on what you could be refreshing yourself with this summer.

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Photo by Rosalind O’Connor

You’ve heard vague rumblings, perhaps in these very pages, about a craft beer revolution in Berlin. But at your average bar (save the overpriced Meisterstück in Mitte), you’re still likely to find nothing but mass-produced swill. The demand for more styles and innovative brews was obvious for Attila Kiss and Mark Hinz of Braufest Berlin, whose Hopfenreich brings their festival’s beer diversity to a roomy, eclectically remodelled Eckkneipe in Wrangelkiez.

The ever-changing offerings on their 14 taps (built into antique machinery) showcase local breweries as well as those from further afield, including America. That country inspired most of the hoppy, high-alcohol ales that dominate Hopfenreich’s blackboard menu, like the full-bodied Camba Imperial Black IPA from Munich (€3.80/0.3L), with roasted malt and a hint of liquorice, balanced with citrus.

Rounding out the menu are old-school German styles (order a bacon-y Franconian Rauchbier if they have it) and hybrids like Schönramer Grünhopfen from Bavaria (€2.60/0.3L), a young, fruity pilsner brewed with fresh hops.

Open less than a month, Hopfenreich has already attracted a devoted crowd. Kreuzbergers sip at the outdoor tables while the beer nerds at the bar engage in heated conversation with Berlin brewers like Sebastian Mergel of Bierfabrik (formerly Beer4Wedding), there to check up on his kegs and get a taste of his contemporaries.

Novices shouldn’t be intimidated: with knowledgeable bartendresses, liver- and wallet-friendly 0.2L sample sizes starting at €1.50 and info nights for beginners in the pipeline, beer education has never been this easy.