This year, Berlin celebrates its third annual Craft Beer Festival, a prime opportunity for Berlin-bound Craft Beer enthusiasts to savour the many flavours of the city's local brewing scene, and this year's festival looks set to be the biggest yet.

 

Sticker Web Berlin Craft Beer Fest 2016 (1)

 

Its organiser, Mark Hinz, is a pioneer of Berlins burgeoning Craft Beer movement, having opened the first ever exclusive Craft Beer bar in Berlin, The Hopfenreich, and been involved in the city’s first festivals dedicated to craft brewing, and he is passionate about his work!

We sat down with Mark at his IPA Bar in Neukölln, surrounded by over a hundred bottles of different brews, to discuss this year’s festivities and learn what makes of Craft Beer so good while enjoying one of the delicious draughts on tap.

 

Mark

 

 

Berlin’s Craft Beer scene is young, but is growing at a rapid rate. You are one of the earliest supports of the Craft Beer scene here. Can you tell us what got you into craft beer originally, and your journey towards opening your bars?

It was a little bit by accident I would say. It was about three years ago, in 2013, I was working in Badehaus, a small club along RAW area in Berlin-Freidrichshein. The owner of the Badehaus, who I was working for, started having an interest in craft beer. He runs a craft beer bar in Budapest, and was thinking how to bring this craft beer taste to Berlin and we thought let´s start a Berlin-based Brewfest, as he had done in Budapest.

So when I first tried one of these Craft beers, the result for me was Wow… these craft beers taste very good. I never drank craft beer, in the past I had drunk the normal industrial beer and was convinced very fast that this was the thing for me and so we decided to organise the first Brewfest Berlin in September 2013 in the RAW area. It was successful, and I would say it was the first big event only for craft beer and their breweries. No other beer was allowed.

This was my first step into the Berlin craft beer scene. Three years ago the scene was very small, but it has grown year by year. Very fast.

 

Sounds like it was Love at first taste.  It’s hard to define, or explain, craft beer as each beer-lover has their own interpretation but it seems, generally, to warrant a taste experience that is to be "savoured and not swilled", how might you explain it to those who haven't yet sought out craft beers?

As good as sex!

Definitely love at first taste.

A lot of people claim their dream job is to own a bar. You have two. What is the best part of your job?

To bring all these great beers to Berlin and to try them all! Also to talk with a lot of interesting people about Craft Beer. Not just customers, but also brewers. Most of the people working in the Berlin Craft Beer scene are nice and interesting people.

And the rest is work. Hard work.

Your IPA Bar has over 100 varieties of bottled Craft Beer as well as craft beers on tap. Do many people ask for advice on beer recommendations?

Yes, however my knowledge is less than that of every bartender in our bars. The bartenders are the real connoisseurs, so I would advise customers to ask them for advice and recommendations.

How do you find the beers for your bars?

We are not brewers, but we offer great variety of different beers. We get from all over the world. We offer lots of local Craft Beers (brewed here in Berlin) as well as national and international ones. We find new beers all the time, based on our own tastes and recommendations from experts. It also depends on availability of the Craft Beers as they are not as available as the industrial ones.

IPA

The Berlin Craft Beer Festival takes place on July 29-30 this year. What is the history behind the festival?

We started two years ago in 2014, it was the first ever Craft Beer festival in Berlin. I started the first festival, I was also one of the promoters.

It was very successful and we saw that within one year there were so many interesting Craft Beer bars and breweries. It was so exciting to see the scene grow this fast and so we decided to have the festival yearly.

How many people do you expect to attend this year?

I would estimate perhaps 8 to 10 thousand people over the whole weekend.

What can people expect when attending?

They can expect a great day of beer tastings, street food, DJ’s and a very relaxed atmosphere. We have 26 local Berlin based breweries, and a few from Brandenburg.  We will have several more beer specials. The festival starts at midday and ends at 11.00pm. And after wards every guest who has a stamp of the festival will get free entry to the Badehaus club which is very close so we can all have a great night after the festival and of course enjoy even more craft beers at Badehaus....just in case we didn't have enough earlier, haha.

With twenty-six local brewers attending, is there any competition between the brewers? Or is it rather a celebration of the joy of the Craft?

It’s a great celebration of Craft Beer in Berlin. They all know each other, they are working together, helping each other. There is a bit of competition, but that is normal. It’s a healthy competition.

People should celebrate the great Craft Beers.

The RAW gelände complex is a great location. Why did you choose it?

It is one of Berlin´s most well-known spots for nightlife. People can get there very easy from all over town. It is a short tram ride from Prenzlaurberg, the close S-Bahn stations Ostbahnhof and Warschauer Str bring people from Mitte and Charlottenburg. And it´s walking distance from Freidrichshein and Kreuzberg.

The RAW gelände complex is in the centre of lots of activity. It´s perfect for the Craft Beer Festival. And the Badehaus is close by.

The official Festival Beer is “Lemondrop Pale Ale” and is only available at the festival. Can you tell us more about it?

This beer is brewed at Lemke brewery here in Berlin. Our bar manager at Hopfenreich is a Brewmaster, and together with Lemke they came up with this recipe. The result is this fruity pale ale, and tastes like a lemon. It is a very drinkable & refreshing beer. Not too much alcohol, about 5,2 percent.....great for the Summer´s day.

And the rest is a surprise. You will have to find out on the day!

What advice would you give to any of our readers visiting Berlin at the weekend who might fancy coming along to the festival?

Well, firstly, to for sure come and celebrate with us, you can just rock up on the day but a really good idea is to avail of pre-sale tickets especially because the 2016 Berlin Craft Beer festival will be the biggest yet. Pre-sale tickets cost €9 and include 2 days entrance, fast and easy entry through a separate line, a festival glass and a festival beer, the aforementioned Lemondrop Pale Ale.

It will be a very cool atmosphere, and a great opportunity to try many unique German craft beers. The opposite of the Oktoberfest!

Berlin Craft Beer Festival 2016 Details to know:

29th-30th of July

Raw-Gelände (east side)

Opening times: 12:00 - 23:00

Entry: €4 including 1 x “Lemondrop Pale Ale” (festival beer) Presale tickets: https://goo.gl/DnWdgT

Address: Revaler Str. 99, 10245 Berlin-Friedrichshain (RAW-Gelände, east side)

S-Bahn Warschauer Str.

The Berlin Beer Week is a partner of the Berlin Craft Beer Fest 2016

Organisers of Berlin Craft Beer Festival 2016

Mark Hinz, Attila Kiss

Kiss & Hinz GbR

Sorauer Str. 31, 12055 Berlin

Contact: info@craftbeerfest.de