This Friday and Saturday July 25/26 at Alte Börse Marzahn (above), the Global Association for Craft Beer Brewers invite you to join them and brewers from every corner of the world to celebrate the growing diversity and imagination in the craft beer industry, and award prizes to the top brews, at the first Global Craft Beer Festival. If you’re wondering what to expect, think of all those amazing food markets that have been popping up in Berlin recently, and then think about how your foodie friends go crazy talking about them. Now think about how much you prefer beer to food. Now stop drooling you big silly, there are probably people staring at you. Friday is more of an awards night, while Saturday is the big all day party. With stands showcasing over 20 different small breweries and an international bar featuring beer over 40 more, your taste-buds are in for a seriously refreshing treat should you decide to come along, and if that wasn’t enough there’ll be music from the excellent Kleine Reise DJs and top Berlin band, Blendend. Best of all, it’s free entry!
So, just what is the deal here? Well, unless you’ve been living under a rock these past few years, you should already be familiar with the terms ‘Craft Beer’, ’cause this stuff seems to be everywhere right now. Lately I’ve wondered where all this attention and publicity has come from. What exactly is a ‘craft’ beer? Are people sick of the traditional beer options on offer? Is there more to these craft beers than clever branding and marketing, should we be hoptimistic or are they just taking the pils? I figured the yeast I could do was to find stout. Enough with the unbeerable brewing puns? But I’m barley getting started…..
To get more info on the subject, I recently went along to a craft beer tasting session for the Berlin press by the GACBB (The Global Association for Craft Beer Brewers), which took place at Hops and Barley in Friedrichshain. Having worked in restaurants in the past, I’m used to what goes on at wine-tasting, and as it turns out a beer-tasting is no different. Before you taste the beer you have to listen to the expert, in this case the highly knowledgable and friendly Rory Lawton (pictured below) was on hand to talk us through each craft beer’s background, with suggested tasting notes on each. Then comes the sniffing part, and finally you swirl it around your mouth and enjoy the taste. No worries there!
After the tasting session, which included brews from Son, the Dungarvan Brewing Company, and Brewer’s & Union, I sat down with Rory and asked him what the deal was with craft beer’s popularity, and why it is only now taking off in Germany. He talked to me about the famous and traditionally revered German brewing purity laws, the ‘Reinheitsgebot’ which has dictated for years what ingredients should and should not go into German beer. Rory explained that in his humble opinion, these laws do nothing for you, the consumer, and effectively serve only to protect the established big breweries by limiting their exposure to new competitors. Craft beers, on the other hand, he told me, are free to experiment with modern ingredients and to come up with exciting new flavours and tastes.
I truly enjoyed my first craft beer tasting with the guys at the GACBB, and am really looking forward to the amazing amount of choice on offer at the weekend. With the sun set to shine and the temperature rising to almost 30C, what better way to cool down. And this is coming from a guy (me) who didn’t even drink beer until he was 23! (I was a cider man in case you’re wondering). Either way, for a novel day out this weekend with your family, friends or both, this event promised to be a lot of fun, maybe I will see you there. Until then, may the schwarzbier with you.
July 26th, 14:00 – 22:00
Alte Börse Marzahn
S-Bahnhof: Friedrichsfelde Ost