Beer Culture

Stories about great beer from the countries that invented it.

The Eschenbräu Brewpub in Berlin

Despite Germany’s outstanding brewing traditions, the country’s capital is not widely thought of as a great place for beer. The city’s native beer style, the sour Berliner Weisse, is now almost extinct. And considering we’re talking about a city of 3.4 million people who seem to pride themselves on eating well, drinking well and going out a heck of a lot, finding good local beers can be surprisingly difficult.

That’s certainly the case for the Eschenbräu brewpub, which offers three regular beers with ten seasonal specials scheduled for 2009. It’s not impossible to reach, but it’s far enough off the tourist map that most casual visitors to Berlin aren’t going to bump into it.

Located in the gritty neighborhood of Wedding, north and west of Mitte, Eschenbräu has a sign on the street telling guests that its entrance is around the corner. It’s actually around several corners, through a courtyard and down some stairs, hiding behind what appears to be a student dormitory.

The atmosphere is part student Kneipe, part classic Berlin beer bar, with dark wood tables, dark banquettes against the walls and brewing paraphernalia — empty malt sacks from Weyermann and so forth — making up the décor. The mood last Thursday was quiet, festive and neighborly, the kind of night when the music they’re playing is rock ‘n’ roll but at low volume, a night when the waitress immediately calls you “Du.”

I managed to try both the Pils and Weizen, skipping the reddish Dunkles only because of time constraints. The Pils had a pronounced hop bitterness, but very little hop aroma, and a thin, yellowish body in line with many German Pils beers; the loose white head disappeared within a few seconds. Biased by Czech pale lagers, which are usually both more malty and more aromatic, I thought it was okay by comparison. However, when compared to a bottle of Berliner Pilsner, Eschenbräu’s version was nectar.

I got a lot more out of the Weizen, a refreshing clove-scented wheat in the Bavarian style, which seemed to have a better bitter-sweet balance.

My visit missed by a day Eschenbräu’s first seasonal special of the year, a Dunkler Bock released on 13.2; other scheduled specials are Rauchbier (13.3), Hopfenblume (3.4), Maibock (1.5), Bayrisch Hell (5.6), Roter Wedding (10.7, a “red” lager taking the traditionally leftist neighborhood’s nickname), Schwarze Molle (7.8), Märzen (25.9), Doppelhopf (30.10), and something called “Alter Schwede” (27.11).

It’s interesting to note that while Eschenbräu makes beers in the style of other cities — Munich, Bamberg and so on — it doesn’t seem to produce a beer in the traditional style of its own hometown. Sure, there will be Bamberger Rauchbier. But apparently there won’t be any Berliner Weisse here.

“Interesting” is one way of putting it. “Depressing” is another.

Triftstraße 67 (near U-Bahn Leopoldplatz)
13 353 Berlin-Wedding
Tel. +49 30 462 68 37
Open daily from 5 p.m.


Bohemia Regent Beer at Prague’s Art-Café u Irmy


Beer Hacking: Pardubicky Porter vs. Orval, Tasted & Revisited


  1. Will let Mrs Velkyal know about this place as she will be up in Berlin at the weekend.

  2. I have wondered about this, too. Why would not more breweries make the local style? Brewbaker (another brewpub) does have a Berliner Weisse, and there is another from Berliner Bürgerbräu, but they don’t seem to have much distribution.

    From the experience they have with gose in Leipzig, where you basically have to convince the waiters you can take it before they’ll sell it to you undiluted, I guess sour beers may be a tough sell these days, however much they may be part of local beer culture.

    Of course, you could do like they do in Goslar, and make a sour beer (gose) that isn’t really very sour, but where’s the point in that?

    Anyway, I recommend Wöllnitzer Weißbier, which is easily the best Berliner Weisse I’ve tried, even if it’s from Jena.

  3. Brewbaker is lovely. Spandau was a close second for us. I’ll have to check out Eschenbrau next time I’m in town.

    In Berlin we had a hell of a time ordering Belriner Weisse without syrup. They really try to talk you out of it. The city is badly in need of a locally driven consumer movement. A handful of beer travelers aren’t going to cut it.

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén