Beer has long been an important part of German culture. The country ranks among the top in the world for beer production and consumption, and it is a leading exporter of the beverage. Traditional beer brewing is strictly regulated in Germany, with the German Beer Purity Law, or Reinhetsgebot, ensuring that top-quality, time-honoured ingredients are used. Yet in recent years a new wave of craft beer producers has been growing up alongside the historic brewing industry. Independent creative breweries are now flourishing across the country.
There’s a particularly vibrant craft beer scene in Hamburg. Today the city offers a wide array of handcrafted ales, beers and lagers – and a wealth of places in which to sample them. Whether you prefer to join a brewery tour or relax in a beer garden with a freshly pulled drink, Hamburg presents a host of opportunities to savour some exceptional tastes of modern-day brewing.
Translating as ‘old girl’, Altes Mädchen takes its name from a song about Hamburg by 1950s singer Freddy Quinn. While its name may nod to the past, this lively bar and restaurant is centred on the emerging craft beer industry. Just down the road is the Ratshernn brewery, which supplies Altes Mädchen with an incredible variety of excellent beers. In addition, about 60 international craft beers are also offered, sourced from across the world and chosen for their unique taste and great quality. The venue serves the kind of food that goes best with beer: think pulled-pork sandwiches, juicy burgers and steaks. Staff members are on hand to pair each dish with the perfect beer.
Altes Mädchen, Lagerstrasse 28B, 20357 Hamburg, +49 (0)40 8000 77750
Beer has been brewed in Hamburg for more than a millennium, and it is with great pride that Ratsherrn continues, and updates, this custom. A makeover of an established brand, the new Ratsherrn brewery opened its doors in 2012 and has quickly become one of the city’s most popular and successful craft brewers. Its selection of classics, along with yearly limited editions, is available at good pubs, bars and shops across Hamburg and can also be sampled on highly enjoyable tours of the brewery. Although regular tours are in German, tours in English can be arranged on request. From pilsners to pale ales, the output of this brewery is always of a standard to make Hamburg proud.
Ratsherrn, Lagerstrasse 30A, 20357 Hamburg, +49 (0)40 3807 2892
Galopper des Jahres
With more than 10 craft beers on tap and with a wide choice of bottled brews too, small and trendy Galopper des Jahres is designed with beer lovers in mind. What it lacks in size it makes up for in atmosphere: you’re guaranteed a warm welcome at this popular and bustling bar. The stylish interior is modern yet rustic with a hint of the traditional German beer hall; chalkboards are dotted around to let visitors know about the latest deals and beers. The staff are true craft beer enthusiasts, so be sure to ask for their recommendations – they know what to suggest for every taste and palate.
Galopper des Jahres, Schulterblatt 73, 20357 Hamburg, +49 (0)40 4309 3975
Blockbräu is known for its fresh beers, which are brewed and chilled in-house. At this renowned restaurant and beer hall the options are pilsner, wheat beer and special seasonal varieties; for spring, a pale ale malt is perfectly light and fruity. As well as great beer, traditional German food and a lively atmosphere, Blockbräu attracts visitors for its location. Set right on the Elbe river, it has an ideal location and offers beautiful views from its terrace. The simple pleasure of sipping a cold beer with a freshly baked pretzel in hand while watching the sun set over Hamburg can never be overestimated.
Blockbräu, Bei den St Pauli-Landungsbrücken 3, 20359 Hamburg, +49 (0)40 4440 5000