The Best Beer Bars in Berlin

Beer has been a part of German culture since the beginning of recorded history, and today’s brewers take great pride in a long tradition of quality. The famous Reinheitsgebot—the Bavarian purity law passed in 1487 and instituted throughout the newly unified German state in 1871—may have been superseded by new EU laws, but traditional methods continue to exert a powerful influence over modern production. Yet despite these high standards, the selection of available styles tends to be somewhat conservative, with pilsners and hefeweizens accounting for the vast majority of available beer. In recent years, however, a small but vibrant craft beer scene has started to emerge; and while larger breweries still dominate the bars, cafes and beer gardens of Berlin, independent ales are slowly beginning to challenge the supremacy (if not the ubiquity) of lagers and wheat beers. With local brewers exploring the limits of their craft, and more bars willing to put something different on tap, adventurous beer drinkers in Berlin finally have something to be excited about. –Jesse Simon

  • 1

    BKK (Bier Kombinat Kreuzberg)

    From its location on a residential street in Kreuzberg to the careless rec-room vibe of its smoky interior, BKK is the kind of neighborhood bar where you might go to watch the Bundesliga (the major German soccer league) on a Sunday afternoon, if you happened to live down the block. The fact that it also has some of the best and most interesting locally brewed ales in Berlin seems almost an afterthought. But between their taps—which feature traditional beers alongside IPAs and seasonal brews—and a small selection of craft bottles brewed by Kreuzberg’s own Schoppe Bräu, BKK appeals as much to the local crowd as it does ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft beer
    • sports
  • 2

    Brauhaus Südstern

    With its exposed brick and dark wood interior, its small front patio and its even smaller beer garden area in the back, Brauhaus Südstern looks like an ordinary bar-restaurant. However it's one of the few bar-restaurants in Berlin that brews its own beer on site. The selection of beers is limited to an unfiltered pale lager, a dark beer and a hefeweizen—sometimes supplemented by a seasonal brew—but none of them had to travel very far to get to your glass, and it shows.  

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft beer
    • full menu
  • 3

    Das Gift

    The rapid gentrification of Neukölln has resulted in the appearance of countless divey watering holes with unplastered walls, tastefully mismatched furniture and hip clientele. While Das Gift ("gift," by the way, is the German word for poison and has nothing to do with its English homonym) bears some aesthetic similarities to the bars that surround it, it has managed to elevate itself above the competition, thanks in part to its dedicated fridge full of Scottish ales. Owned by an expat Scottish couple who keep good beer behind the bar and good music on the stereo, Das Gift is a small oasis of ale in a desert of lager.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft beer
    • full menu
    • jukebox
  • 4

    Foersters Feine Bier

    This civilized spot on a leafy residential street in Steglitz has the relaxed vibe of a Berlin cafe: on a summer afternoon, the patio tables are filled with locals reading the paper or chatting with friends. However, a quick look at the menu will tell you that Foersters are serious about their beer. Their selection of bottles—assembled by beer sommelier Sven Förster—spans the gamut of German beer styles from standard lagers to the more obscure Rauchbier (Smoke-beer) from Bamburg, with a handful of newer German IPAs for good measure. All of the beers on their menu are sourced from smaller independent breweries in ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft beer
    • outdoor / patio
  • 5

    Herman Belgian Bar

    For a country of limited geographical size, Belgium produces a bewildering amount of great beer. If your love of Belgian brews goes beyond the occasional Leffe or Duvel, Herman Belgian Bar on Senefelderplatz in Prenzlauer Berg has by far the best selection in Berlin.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft beer
  • 6

    Hopfenreich

    Berlin’s newest craft beer bar, Hopfenreich, was opened in the summer of 2014 by the organizers of the Berlin Bier Fest. The bar, located in a former restaurant in Kreuzberg’s Wrangelkiez, features 15 thoughtfully curated taps of craft beer (the largest draught selection in Berlin), plus a handful of bottles sourced primarily from within Germany. If you’re looking for a simple lager or wheat beer, they’ll have that too, although it will come from an indie brewery you may not know. The real attraction, however, is the IPAs, porters and saisons that you just won’t find elsewhere in Berlin. Between the extensive ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft beer
  • 7

    Loch Ness

    The Scottish-themed Loch Ness Pub prides itself on having the best selection of whiskies in the city. However its principal attraction for beer lovers and British expats—for whom the American-style craft beers don’t cut it—is that it is one of the few places in Berlin where one can spend an evening in the company of some proper Scottish and English ales. Although quantities can be limited, the selection of bottles is always impressive. However, the secret weapon at Loch Ness is the occasional availability of real cask ale. The neighbourhood of Lichterfelde—quite far south of the city centre, in the southern part of ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • lots of whiskey
    • craft beer
  • 8

    Vagabund Brauerei

    If you’re serious about beer, this is your first port of call in Berlin. Located in the northern borough of Wedding—far from the city’s hippest spots, but just down the road from one of the most respected brewing schools in Europe—Vagabund was, and still is, at the forefront of Berlin’s nascent craft beer scene. And although they have started to gain a devoted following throughout the city, the ethos is still very much about keeping it small and local. Their four taps feature a constantly revolving selection of small-batch beers, often supplemented by a guest ale. In addition, their extensive and cleverly organized ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft beer

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