Berlin is a city of multitudes. Its legendary party scene has been raging from the chic pre-war 1920s to David Bowie and Iggy Pop tearing up the streets in the 1970s to the present day molly-fueled bacchanalia of 25/8 EDM party culture. In short, that’s 100 years of Berlin being the party capital of the world. It’s also Germany: A place where beer has been masterfully crafted for well over a millennia.
It should come as no surprise, then, that Berlin has one of the best beer scenes in the world. The beer bars are a perfect mix of funky, sexy, and expertly curated. You may well stumble into a killer beer bar in Berlin and spend all night sipping your brews under a giant black and white photo of a transgender dominatrix going to work on a sweaty businessman. And you’re sure to run into heroin chic Berliners with countless tattoos sipping stemmed glasses of the best beer in the world. The atmosphere ranges from metal to classic to hipsterfied within a single block of the city. Translation: There’s something for everyone. And the beer lists are f*cking phenomenal.
Just a quick note: While the Berlin installations of Stone Brewing, Mikkeller, and Brewdog are great in their own ways, they’re all foreign brews. All three spots have their merits and serve great beers, but we’ve decided to skip them for this list. If you want to find American, Danish, and Scottish craft in Berlin, cool, but at least try the German stuff first. (Though, to be fair, Stone brews beer in Berlin specifically for the Berlin market.)
Also, it should go without saying, but only picking 12 bars in a city with over 1,200 bars means, yes, we’re leaving great ones out. This is where to start your beer journey in Berlin. Where you end it is up to you.
Related: Check out The Beer Lover’s Guide to cities around the world.
FOERSTERS FEINE BIERE, STEGLITZ
Sven Förster is one of the finest Franconian beer experts and cicerones in Germany, maybe even Europe. His family-run bar, in the southern Berlin district of Steglitz, is a Mecca for Franconian beer. You’ll find beer lovers, casual drinkers, beer writers, and brewers all at Sven’s bar. The southern German beers he cellars and pours are arguably some of the best in the world. Sven and his team deeply care about beer and treat it with the utmost respect, so that when it arrives in front of you it’ll be at its absolute best.
Foersters is a very “German local” bar. The decor is all beer-centric and it’s very clean and cozy. The small food menu has old-school German classics made by Sven and his immediate family all in-house. The potato salad is rad (yes, we mean that). The horse sausages are mouth-watering. The pickles, schmalz on rye, and German charcuteries are all perfectly matched for the lagers and bocks pouring from the taps.
If you truly love great beer, this is where your beer Berlin journey should begin and, likely, end.
It’s hard not to think of raucous beer gardens when you think of Germany. There are plenty of great beer gardens around Berlin: Schluesenkrug, Tiergarten Quelle, Golgatha to name but a few. The best is Zollpackhof by a country mile. First, the location is perfect. You’ll find this wonderland to beer right next to Berlin’s main train station (Hauptbahnhof) and across the river from the German Chancellery. The beer garden is centered around the oldest chestnut tree in Berlin, which provides great shade. The atmosphere is hugely varied. You’ll see whole families whiling away the day (there’s a playpark at one end where the kids congregate). You’ll see tourists and locals, young and old all passing through on any given day. Everyone goes to Zollpackhof. Everyone has a blast.
Then there’s the beer. Zollpackhof serves Munich’s signature lager, Augustiner. You can get a half-liter (16.9oz) for €4 (or about $4.50). What really makes this place stand out is that they receive a daily shipment of holzfass bier. That’s fresh Augustiner in old wooden kegs which are tapped on site. The wood smooths the lager into velvety golden perfection in a glass. The food is also on point. You don’t have to wait to order. There’s a walk-up food bar with huge chunks of perfectly roasted pork shanks and whole chickens along with plenty of sausages and other Bavarian treats.
Fact: There are few better beer gardens in the world.
HERMAN BELGIAN BAR, PRENZLAUER BERG
Herman’s is a Belgian beer bar and not a German beer bar. So, yeah, we’re breaking our own rule a little here. But, this bar is too special not to make the list. There are few bars with a more complete bottle and tap list of Belgian beers in Europe than Herman. Bart, the owner, is a Belgian beer expert who’s opened one of the best bars in Berlin. That’s saying a lot given how many bars there are.
Herman’s is a chilled out bar where you can imbibe some of the best, funkiest, and most interesting beers from Belgium. The atmosphere is brimming with hip beer lovers who really care about what they’re drinking when it comes to the sudsy stuff. Plus, there’s a place next door that does great fries which Bart will totally let you eat at his bar while you sip on your Belgian beer.
Why is he so permissive? Because frites with plenty of mayo paired with Belgian beer are meant for each other.
MUTED HORN, NEUKÖLLN
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May 17 at 4:59pm | It's draft line cleaning day! Making sure everything is in order to let the fresh IPAs shine at tomorrow's @eqbrewery Spotlight. In the meantime, here is today's taplist: themutedhorn.com/#menu. 🍻 #cleandraftlines #linecleaningday #everytwoweeks #respectbeer
Muted Horn is the brainchild of a young Francophone couple from Canada who wanted to open the best craft beer bar in Berlin. And, ho boy, did they hit this one outta the park. Muted Horn is just a great all-around bar that’s also a fantastic beer bar. The one-room space is equal parts cozy living room, complete with plenty of board and card games, and part hip Berlin bar with a nice outdoor patio.
The 21 taps are in constant rotation — with easy lagers on the first few, two nitro taps, and the rest for whatever great kegs they can get their hands on. Then there’s the bottle list of hundreds of lovingly cellared beers from all over the world. What’s beautiful about this bar is how well thought out everything is. The tap list is always exciting and innovative. There are always free pretzels on the bar. Water jugs and glasses are perched around the bar to keep you hydrated. The neon, wood, and steel mix just right and are never intrusive. It’s chic comfort with one of the best-curated beer lists in Europe.
VAGABUND BRAUEREI, WEDDING
Vagabund has been brewing gorgeous beers for a while now. Their small operation, or nano-brewery as they call it, started off as a homebrew session that slowly turned into a full-fledged craft beer phenomenon in Berlin. That homebrew coziness was never abandoned and you always feel like you’re tasting the mad concoction of one of your best friend’s latest brews when you’re in Vagabund.
The bar keeps with the living room aesthetic. The crowd is decidedly beer lovers with a healthy mix of locals from the neighborhood mingling in. There’s also an American vibe here as the three brewers/owners are all American. So, expect the craft beer to lean more towards the American craft-styles with a nice dose of German, Belgian, and Czech foundations.
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You too can howl at the blue moon with our Blue Suede Booze 100% brocent bretted blueberry beer alongside Strassenbräu’s Heidelbeeren Saison. If you have a suspicious mind of how blueberries taste with two different yeasts, you can’t help falling in love with this hunk of unchained hound dog melody…in the ghetto. The event starts at 5 tomorrow. That’s Blue Tuesday 17 of April.
Kaschk is a trendy cafe that just so happens to also be a fantastic beer bar. The hip decor, shuffleboard, abundant WiFi, and expertly-brewed third wave coffee mean that you’re going to get a mix of freelancers tapping away at laptops side-by-side with hardcore beer lovers. Then, as the sun sets over Berlin’s skyline, the computers are put away and the real work of drinking great beers begins.
The tap and bottle list are a big draw here. There’s a range of funky beers from all over Europe with a Nordic focus and the US readily available. If you need a break from the beer, you can grab a great cup of coffee and follow that with an awesome imperial stout. Add in a nice brownie or extra thick slice of banana bread and you’ve got one of the more unique beer experiences in Berlin. Craft beer plus coffee plus cake? Sounds like a big win to us.
LAGER LAGER, NEUKÖLLN
Berlin has a great ace up its sleeve when it comes to incredible beer at the cheapest prices. The Späti — Berlin’s answer to the bodega — exists to provide Berliners with 24/7 access to cheap, good, cold beer all over the city. Seriously, you can get a chilled half-liter bottle of Augustiner or Pilsner Urquell for €1.50 ($1.75) at any corner shop in Berlin. Then you can drink that beer at the Späti if they have seating (most have seating) or drink it on your way to another bar, party, whatever. Lager Lager takes the idea of a Späti and focuses it in one amazing craft beer.
The shop has an insanely great collection of beers available. So much so, that Lager Lager has become a drinking destination as much as it is a corner shop. Like all good Berlin bars, the fun and drinking spill out in the streets every night as great beer after great beer is popped. There are eight taps on site alongside a bottle list of well over 250 beers. They also have a counter-pressure bottle filler for your growlers to ensure you take home the freshest version of your favorite beer off the tap. It’s really that good and a must-stop in Berlin, beer lover or not.
MONTEREY BAR, PRENZLAUER BERG
Monterey is a great Berlin bar in its own right. 70s metal rages over the speakers. The staff has more tatts than you can count. Beards are in full bloom in front of and behind the bar. There are big black and white photos of sex acts on the walls. The furniture is a living room mishmash. It’s about as Berlin as you can get.
Where this bar rises above the average Berlin bar is the amazingly well-curated beer menu. Monterey has a great rotating tap list that stays mostly local. Then their bottle and can list gets wild. There are German, Belgian, experimental, and barreled beers galore. They even have a small and on-freaking-point beer cocktail menu. There’s also a menu for craft mead and craft cider — granted those are technically wine, but still.
Monterey is the perfect amalgamation of a great beer bar and bacchanalia Berlin bar. It’s also the sorta place where the blaring rock’n’roll, heaving crowd, and amazing beer might well lead you down a rabbit hole of partying.
BRLO BRWHOUSE, KREUZBERG
Brlo took a very smart tack when they opened up shop in Berlin. They found some old shipping containers and planted them in an old industrial lot, right in the center of the city next to one of the best city parks. Then they built a rad beer garden around the containers and the rest is history.
Brlo’s beer is a damn good representation of craft beer in Berlin — their creamy and tart Berliner Weisse is their crowning achievement if you’re asking us. They also offer a killer tap list alongside a comfort food-forward menu. Mac and cheese, slathered ribs, brisket sandwiches all make for the perfect beer pairing. This is a place best enjoyed outdoors under the rows of hops growing over trellises. The crowds are always casual and big and the beer is always flowing from outdoor kiosks perches around the beer garden. This is Berlin beer culture at its hippest and best in 2018.
THE BIRD BARBECUE, PRENZLAUER BERG
The Bird started out as a burger joint and steakhouse in Berlin. That success led to the newly minted The Bird Barbecue where amazing beers are poured at the front and serious barbecue is served at the back. The atmosphere of this place is very open and casual. Bespectacled and bearded beer lovers flock to the bar and Americans rock up for a little taste of home. Expect a long line for their brisket, ribs, pulled pork, smoked sausage, beans, and cornbread.
The beer list is very Berlin-centric with many of the taps devoted to beers from local brewers both large and small. Their menu tends to lean towards the funkier beers with a lot of space for fun collabs and special one-offs from the locals. The outdoor seating, Nintendo NES, and crowd make this place a must visit. The spot-on barbecue is the cherry on top of this great Berlin haunt.
Heidenpeters has probably the best location of any beer bar in the city. The brewpub is tucked away in the corner of the famed Markethalle Neun. The market hall is a food lover’s paradise with vendors from all over Berlin and the world coming in from Thursday to Sunday to make spectacular food. The best part? Heidenpeters tends to make the perfect beer to pair with all that delectable food.
Heidenpeters’ brews lean towards the American craft trend with solid IPAs, APAs, a great pils, and something funky and tart. Our recommendation is to grab a pint of something and stroll the food stalls. Once you find some suds that catch your eye, dig in. Then go grab another beer and take another lap. Repeat until the smile doesn’t leave your face.
HOPS & BARLEY, FRIEDRICHSHAIN
Hops & Barley is a Berlin institution. The beers are brewed on site and highlight the beauty in the simplicity of a well-crafted beer. The bar is an essential stop on any night and overflows into the streets daily and nightly.
The beer truly shines here. The beer menu is small and, usually, they’ll only have one special brew on at a time. When it’s gone, it’s gone. The menu is small and leans heavily towards seasonal Berlin specialties and snacks. Don’t sleep on a landjager. That’s a local smoked-cured sausage sort of like an American pepperoni only far cleaner and tastier. Hops & Barely also happens to be smack dab in the middle one of Berlin’s hippest neighborhoods. So starting or ending a bar crawl here is a no-brainer.