Beerlin calling: most popular beer brands
One thing I like about Germany: whenever you go, you don’t see the pubs full of international beer brands. Germans drink a lot of beer, but many of them have never tried Heineken, Stella Artois or Miller. And even during declining beer consumption, the number of the local breweries is growing year by year. Here in Germany beer keeps the connection between people and their roots, traditions and history like nowhere else. This is why, after spending some time Berlin, the heart of Germany, I’d like to discover the story of this city discovering variety and history of its beer.
There are many beer brands (small and big) in Berlin, but three biggest ones are clearly recognised as a Holy Trinity of the Berlin beer brands: Berliner Kindl, Berliner Pilsner and Schultheiss. Most of the city bars, pubs and restaurants serve at least one of those brands, most of the people from Berlin have a favourite one among those three. But what is behind of each of them? And what are the taste differences?
To learn more about Berlin beer, I visited Berlin’s biggest brewery – Berliner-Kindl-Schultheiss-Brauerei – and knew a lot about its taste, origin and history.
We start with Berliner Kindl, the traditional Berlin pils originating from 1872. This beer can be recognised by a very authentic logo with a little kid (Kindl) climbing out of the beer glass. The logo was designed in 1906 and since that time remained an unchangeable feature of Berliner Kindl self-identification. Today Berliner Kindl tries to target higher-society customers to be the most premium Berlin beer supporting plenty of cultural events, concerts, festivals in Berlin and surroundings as well as growing presence in the premium restaurants and bars.
Best-seller: Jubiläumspils, ABV 5.1%.
Selling Line: “Wir sind Berliner Kind” – We are Berlin’s Children.
Where to get: Mitte, Prenzlauerberg, Charlottenburg.
Compared to Berliner Kindl, Schultheiss has completely different image: a traditional old-school Berliner lager for ordinary people, working and serving class usually enjoying few pints after hard working day their favourite corner bar. Schultheiss is the oldest existing Berlin beer brand originating from 1842. In 1891 Schultheiss merged few other breweries, moved to Schönhauser Allee in Prenzlauerberg and became the biggest brewery in Germany, 20 years after – the biggest worldwide. After the World War II the brewery moved to West-Berlin where it reached 67% market share. This is why Schultheiss has so many followers in West Berlin districts. On contrary, in Eastern neighbourhoods it is very difficult to find Schultheiss sold in bars and restaurants.
Best-seller: Pilsner, ABV 5.0%.
Selling Line: “Echt Berlin. Echt Schultheiss” – True Berlin. True Schultheiss.
Where to get: Mitte, Moabit, Wedding, Charlottenburg, Wilmersdorf.
The reason of low Schultheiss presence in the East is Berliner Pilsner: the beer from GDR originating from 1963. At some point of time, GDR bosses decided that the capital needs an own strong beer brand, and the beer itself needs to be of the highest quality. This helped Berliner Pilsner to survive after the fall of the wall compared to many other GDR brands. Berliner Pilsner is recognised first of all for its refreshing pilsner taste but also for a red Berlin bear serving three beer bottles over its head. Today Berliner Pilsner tries to be Heineken of Berlin: it is entering booming nightlife, fashion and hipster scene and offers a true way to explore the city. Obviously, with a bottle of Berliner Pilsner in the hand.
Best-seller: Pilsner, ABV 5.0%.
Selling Line: “Berlin, du bist so wunderbar” – Berlin, you are so wonderful.
Where to get: Mitte, Prenzlauerberg, Friedrichshain, Kreuzberg, Neukölln, Lichtenberg, Marzahn.
An this is a challenge I had: to find the difference in the taste of freshly brewed Kindl, Berliner and Schultheiss. The last one was easy to differentiate: it is solid lager, almost not fizzy at all with pretty flat body, intensive dark orange color and decent finish. In three and half words: a typical draft beer. Finding a difference between Berliner Kindl and Berliner Pilsner was definitely a bigger challenge.
Initially, both beers seems to be very similar: same light yellow pils color, same decent smell and much more sparkling body. After a few sips I got it: Berliner Kindl is a bit lighter, it leaves almost no spiciness in the mouth while drinking, but afterwards you get a bit bitter finish in your mouth. Berliner Pilsner, in contrary, gives you freshness and spiciness during drinking, but is pretty mild in finish without leaving any strong aftertaste.
Drink of the Day:
After many tries and sips it was clear to me: I prefer Berliner Pilsner the most. It is just more refreshing and brilliantly fits to be the first or second beer of the night.
However, both other competitors are not far behind. Especially if you are guest in the city, drink any of them and dive deeper into the taste of Berlin.