Why three American expats and former kindergarten teachers turned to brewing in Berlin

Photo by Sylvia Cunningham


For David Spengler, Matt Walthall, and Tom Crozier, the idea to start home-brewing beer in Berlin came to them during band practice in 2009. They were getting tired of the classic German pale lagers and pilsners. IPAs were nearly impossible to find in the city at that time, so they decided to make their own.

At first the brews were just to satisfy their own cravings, but then other people started liking them, and the three began to see opening a business as an opportunity to fill a void in Berlin’s beer scene. Walthall recalls it was a struggle to be taken seriously by German authorities. He was often told, “You’re American? Brewing beer? No one wants that.” It was one of the reasons the three turned to crowdfunding instead, eventually raising over 21,000 Euros in 2013 to open their brewery.

We talk with the three owners on their transition from kindergarten teachers to brewery owners, as well as get a behind-the-scenes look from Vagabund’s brewmaster, Erik Mell, on brewing an American Pale Ale.

Photo by Sylvia Cunningham.