Inspired by Hamburg, Germany
Fourpure Gregg (@dredpenguin) recently took a trip to Hamburg to host an event and sample the local wares, the outcome looks a little something like this;
Anyone who knows me knows my love of a good Pilsner… even back in my Weird Beard days, I had a Pilsner named after me (Faceless Spreadsheet Ninja). So, I was super excited to travel out to Hamburg to do an event with the guys at Beavertown and catch up with our importers into Germany, Brausturm. During the trip, I was lucky enough to visit 5 breweries and samples their Pilsners. Here are my recollections and photos (somewhat hazy) history for your reading pleasure
Bit of History to start…
Hamburg traces its history of brewing back over 1000 years. Its heydey was probably in the 14th Century with more than 500 breweries operating during the time of the Hanseatic League. Things have not been quite so good since with the beer scene fluctuating due to economic, fashion and historical reasons.
The 20th Century was a tough one for Hamburg brewing with 15 breweries in business at the start of the century and even less at the end of it. The 21st Century has seen a small revival, with both traditional and craft breweries popping up with a current count of 28 active breweries.
We start with one that is a bit more difficult to visit, Buddelship Brauerei Founded in 2014.
We were lucky enough to get a tour as the owner, Simon, is the brother of our importer. They do have a bar but only open for events every now and again and the brewery is super tight on space!
They have a good connection with the UK through owner Simon (cool Motorhead tee Simon) having brewed at Zerodegrees (London) and head brewer Felix spending some time at Siren.
As well as the Pilsner we tasted an excellent smoked wheat beer, a stunning NEIPA and they have a number of nice Rioja barrels full of interesting stuff.
Next Stop was Hopper Brau, established in 2015. Hopper Brau was much bigger and a bit newer, with loads of space and a nice, locally built brew kit. They also have a bar near Beatlesplaz.
They have a great bar in the brewery made from a shipping container clad with wood reclaimed from a brothel on the Reeperbhan … Don’t shine a UV light near it.
Along with the pilsner they do a load of craft focused beers.
They have a monster of a cleaning system to recycle glass bottles, the worst job in the whole brewery at the moment is the person looking for cigarette butts in the returned dirty bottles.
A new brewery on the block Uberquell (established in 2017) were hosts for our tap take over and possessor of some fabulously painted huts that contain conditioning tanks.
They are situated by the River in St Pauli, smack in between the Fishmarket and Landungsbruken in a really happening part of town. It boasts a shiny copper-plated kit and cool décor.
They have a load of taps and serve up both traditional and modern craft-style beers and some guests. They also do amazing pizzas and had a fantastic smoker set up, though I think this was a street food vendor just in for the event. I highly recommended them for a visit., it was the best ambience of the weekend.
Block Brau Established in 2012 is a somewhat more touristy and traditional set up in Landungsbruken.
There is a quite limited selection of beers mainly lager and some cracking German food. I leave you with this picture just to make you hungry… the senf alone is worth the trip.
Brauhaus Joh. Albrecht, established in 1991, served up easily my favourite Pils of the trip (well it was a Helles but the style was super crisp and quite bitter and reminded me of a Pils, and given that I have focused on Pils this trip, let’s just get on with it.)
Located right in the centre of town near the Rathaus it’s one of a small chain of brewpubs and stalwart of the Hamburg beer scene.
There’s plenty of copper clad vessels sitting right behind the bar.
The beer selection was again slightly limited but they served up some of the best food we had all trip, this is spent grain crusted schnitzel and some of the tastiest potatoes you will ever eat.
It’s a must visit in what was the best beer and best food of the trip
Hamburg is an excellent city and seems to have a thriving new craft beer scene that meshes well with the more traditional Brauhaus type locations.