As Berlin Beer Week is just around the corner (13th-20th June), I met up with new craft beer brand Berliner Berg’s brewmaster, Richard Hodges, for a chat.
I say a chat, but it actually at a beer making class I was attending at the Pilsner Urquell Werkstatt this week at FluxBau. He was leading the class, educating us simpletons on the steps to making the perfect beer.
Richie’s a rare breed of craft brewers – one who loves all beer, so long as it’s good, without some puritanical (or just plain snobbish) belief system on how a real beer should be. This meant that, when discussing his new venture, Berliner Berg, and beer in general, I didn’t have to worry that maybe, just maybe, he could smell that Sternburg cooling in my fridge back home.
So, tell us about Berliner Berg
Berliner Berg is a new microbrewery that will open its doors in the coming months, located in Kopfstraße 59. Neukölln has a very long and rich brewing history and we are very excited about helping bring a piece of Neukölln’s brewing history back, combining the experience of a local brewery with a tap room to welcome visitors to talk about what we do and why we do it. All of this while enjoying a few handcrafted beers, of course.
What kind of beers will Berliner Berg be making?
Following this thought of Berlin brewing history, we will be focusing on brewing a Berliner Weiße. This is a beer style that Berlin owns, but for more than half for more than half a century has been continuously dumbed down and industrialized to the point that it’s now acceptable to dump some kind of sugary syrup in it to make it drinkable.
I’m looking forward to our new interpretation of lager beer, and having it as part of our core identity. Then we will be focusing on a brewing an American Pale Ale, brewed with classic hops with an eye on the roots of the craft beer movement in the US.
Then, the real fun starts with small batches of rotating beers with a selection of classic styles, new styles, and freestyle. Coming soon to a restaurant or bar in Berlin near you.
What is Berliner Berg doing for Berlin Beer Week?
We are planing a small event for Thursday evening (the 18th) in our tap room. It will be an evening with a few of our collaborations beers I’ve running around doing and a Comedy Show. Should be lots of fun, and the first chance for people to take a look at where we are going with our ideas.
Tickets are €15, and that includes three beers and the comedy show. Officially we are looking at opening the Tap House in July, and the brewery shortly thereafter.
Tickets available here.
Okay, so you were with Crew Republic… tell me about that
I am very proud of the beers I created while with Crew Alewerkstatt. 7:45 Escalation, Detox, and the X beers will always have a special meaning to me. To have been be able to come in and rework Crew’s existing beers and set up quality standards and controls was a great challenge and a lot of fun. Creating and brewing those beers and then bringing them to the people was very hard to leave behind. In the end, I had to be true to myself. I left them in January of this year.
And what made you move from Munich to Berlin?
Beer. I lived in Munich for 10 years. I love Munich, but I love beer more. I recently saw the quote “Berlin without graffiti is Munich” and I think if you cut Berlin in half, then closed half the bars and restaurants, and implemented a curfew at 10pm, you’d have Munich.
All jokes aside. The opportunity to come to Berlin and open a new brewery is very exciting for me. I’ll miss Munich for sure.
How do you see Berlin’s beer scene, and where do you see it going?
In my opinion, Berlin is ground zero for the new wave of beers and brewers in Germany. You’ve got a city filled with young, open-minded and curious people who are looking to carve out something for themselves in this world. The ground is so fertile in Berlin that one really has the feeling that anything is possible.
There are a lot of honest and dedicated people driving the new beer scene here in Berlin. Whether it be the brewers, the people organizing festivals and events, independent distributors, bar and restaurant owners, or home brewers and avid consumers, they all play a huge part in creating this synergistic effect in Berlin.
So, what are your favourite beers at the moment?
In my fridge right now I’ve got a Fullers London Pride, Schlenkerla Weizen, Pilsner Urquell and a Braukunstkeller Amarsi. I’m always switching around. I’ve been drinking a lot of Czech Pilsners lately.
And what are your top picks for Berlin Beer Week?
The opening event at Brauhaus Lemke is a must! During the week I’ll be trying to shuffle my work duties and attending every event possible. I am a brewmaster, but am beer fan first and foremost. I am very excited about visiting as many events as possible. There are some great evenings planned! Then finishing things up at Stone’s site for its new brewery will be a blast for sure, incredible beer selection from everyone!
Kopfstraße 59, Neukölln