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.