A guest post for Omnified by Hana and Hugh Eckermann
Berlin Beer Week (BBW), established in 2015, is a week-long event celebrating craft beer culture. On Friday, a boat ride through Kreuzberg marked the start of BBW and its over 70 events. As beer aficionados, fans, and creators enjoyed some delicious brews, we spoke to several brewers about their collaborations and the stories behind them.
This year, Johannes Heidenpeters (Heidenpeters, Berlin) and Philipp Brokamp (Hops & Barley, Berlin) were challenged by Dirk Hoplitschek and Stefan Krüger, the festival’s founders, to come up with a special brew and, indeed, their lager “Intense Pulse Lupulin” delivered the expected hop magic: an extremely delicious, hops-intense lager, perfect for a summer’s day.
Collaborations are commonplace within the craft beer world; in fact, the craft beer world prides itself on this kind of culture. “Collabs” are seen as a fun, community-driven learning experience that allows brewers to experiment.
Last year, the crowd’s favorite collab was “Yellow Belly Sundae” by Buxton Brewery (U.K.) and Omnipollo (Sweden). In 2014, the breweries took part in the “Rainbow Project” (created by the Siren Craft Brew, U.K.). The breweries drew the color yellow out of a hat and, after some discussion, they arrived at the consensus that the prime meaning of the color yellow is cowardice.
This beer, the brewers said, was both an attempt to weigh in on the various political happenings reverberating throughout Europe while also intending to be a celebration of all things new, open-minded and progressive.
Like Buxton and Omnipollo’s collab brew, many other of the beers showcased at the beer cruise had interesting and unexpected backstories. Katharina Kurz and Michael Lembke (BRLO Craft Beer, Berlin) teamed up with their friends from Zagovor Brewery (Russia). Their inspiration also came from a color; this time the color black, a color the brewers see as emblematic of the city of Berlin itself. Zagovor brought in black salt, which is a unique product from the Kostroma region, located northeast of Moscow. It has dark gray crystals and a unique bread-like smell. BRLO added
German summer fruits – black currant and blackberries and together, all the ingredients gave birth to a wonderful Gose brew called “Black.” An amazingly fruity and delightfully sour beer, the black ingredients actually turn into beautiful ruby red. BRLO & Zagovor, more color experimenting, please!
BBF Berliner Bierfabrik (Berlin) and their friends from the Dancing Camel (Israel) had fun barrel-aging the Wit beer “Leche Del Diablo.” Sebastien Mergel from Bierfabrik prepared kilos of shatta (an Israeli chilli pepper) for the brew and learned that these chillies are so potent that when chopping them, the chili oil can burn your skin. Brewers beware: wear gloves! This fantastic beer brings exotic notes to your palette. It starts sour, then you experience the wood aroma of the barrel and at the end, just an elegant touch of pepper notes. We made Sebastien promise to brew more of it (especially now that he knows how to properly deal with chilli peppers).
Another beer, created by David Graham from Lervig Aktiebryggeri (Norway) and Lukas Wiacek from Fuerst Wiacek (Berlin), was concocted when they began craving chicken noodle soup after clubbing until 5 a.m. After their long night out, they decided to brew a beer together called “Chicken Noodle Soup for the Soul.” Their double dry-hopped pale ale was so hoppy and juicy that they renamed it “Nimble.” Low in alcohol content, smooth, refreshing and perfect for the summer. With more “Chicken Noodle Soup for the Soul” still to come, we think David and Lukas should party together more often.
As the boat cruised through the vibrant, multicultural neighborhood of Kreuzberg, beer revelers waved to partiers on the shore, and as glasses clinked on the deck of the boat, the feelings of community, collaboration, and friendship were in the air.
Photos by Hana Eckermann