Craft Beer Day Hamburg, Germany October 12th 2013



I went to Craft Beer Day in Hamburg on Saturday. It was located in the courtyard between the Altes Madchen, Ratsherrn Brewery, and Craft Beer Store which are all part of the Nordmann Group. There was a 5 euro cover charge to enter and a 5 euro deposit for a tasting glass which you could turn in for your deposit when you were done. I was put off by the cover charge, which I don't remember being advertised, but I knew I was going in to sample the beer. Thirteen different breweries were on hand for the event. The different beers were available for either .1 or .3 liter samples for 1 or 3 euro.

The breweries, Kehrwieder Kreativebrauerei, Westindien Brewers & UnionBrauhaus Riegele, DachsAarhus Bryghus, Ratsherrn, BlockbrauMaisel and FriendsKraft Bräu, RollbergerHops and Barley, Crew AleWerkstatt, are an impressive list of some of the countries innovative beer makers. While I was surprised that some of these breweries were on hand as their selection only consists of unimaginative copies of pilseners, dunkles, and wheat beers, some breweries such Westindien, Kehrwieder, and Crew are pushing the German brewing scene forward. The distance between the best and worst beers here was astonishing.

My favorite beer of the night was the Pale Ale from Westindien. The beer was an exquisite balance of malt and hops and one that I could happily drink all night. I only regret that I only enjoyed .1 of it! Their chocolate porter was also impressive and one of the bolder flavors on offer. Kehrwieder also does an excellent job with their single hop Shipa series. They had the Shipa (Amarillo) and Shipac (Cascade) available which are excellent beers for a less experienced IPA drinker to begin discovering the wide array of flavors this loved beer style can offer. My first beer of the night was their limited release Feuchte Träume, a wet hopped pale ale, which while not bad was too watery and not up to the high standard that they deliver. I also found the IPA from Crew Ale to be well balanced and quite likeable and I'll have to get a bottle for some more in depth tasting. It was disappointing Crew Ale sold of out beer quite quickly which, while a testament to how good their beer is, is not something to do at a beer event. The other impressive beer I had was from Aarhus. Their Black Oak, which is an oak aged imperial stout, was complex and offered more depth than was available from most of the beers here. There were definitely a plethora of great beers to sample.

Overall the Craft Beer Day was an enjoyable experience, but there is definitely room for improvement. The event which was held inside and outside was too crowded for the space and as the night wore on and the rain picked up it was hard to maneuver. I didn't witness much spilled beer (probably due to the small .1 pours), but their were people constantly bumping into each other. The tight spaces also led to mashed up inefficient queues for the beer. Germans are a group who culturally have for the most part no concept of waiting in line and having a bunch of people mash up against the serving area was at times a pain. This was especially bad when people wanted to stay and talk to the brewers or staff at the booths. I have often felt that the children of the Nordmann group aren't interested in beer as much as they are a business. While I know that all breweries are businesses and want to be successful I am often left feeling like most of the staff involved in these various beer ventures are not passionate about beer. I may be wrong about this but it is a feeling I have been left with almost every time I've been to one of the three businesses. Despite these drawbacks and 4.50 sausages there was still plenty of fun and good beer to have.

If you happen to be in Hamburg the next time there is a Craft Beer Day you should stop by. Finding and enjoying craft beer here in the north is slowly becoming more mainstream, but the scene is still lacking, so I feel supporting these events is important. While there are several breweries there that would for me only be considered craft brewers due to their small volume of beer, there are still others which are among the most important breweries in German craft beer. Hopefully the event will grow and be able to attract brewers from other countries along with keeping some of the impressive breweries already present.

The wrist band allowed unlimited reentry which was good because of the over priced food available.

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About Colin Smith

Hi, I'm Colin, I love a good hoppy IPA, but I can find immense enjoyment in a solid session beer, imperial stout, quadrupel or a nostalgic beer from my past.

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