In Bremen, they put their heart and soul into making craft beer. Or Craft Bier, which seems to have established itself as the German ‚translation‘. Quality, not quantity, is what counts. So where can you enjoy craft beer in Bremen?
What is craft beer?
Craft means artisan skill. It means beer brewed on a small, not an industrial, scale. I believe every beer has its place and its time. A can of Haake at a festival is just the thing, and cheap to boot. But craft beer should be appreciated and enjoyed. In larger quantities, if desired, but that soon becomes expensive. As a rule, craft beer is quality beer that is produced using traditional methods. Less common styles of beer are rediscovered, and there’s a lot experimentation going on. In some cases the brewers even grow their own hops. Variety and sustainability are buzzwords, as is independence – from major breweries, but at times also from the German Beer Purity Law. This all comes at a price, of course, but I think it’s justified. That’s the way it is with any product made by smaller producers.
Whether you like the end product or not is another matter entirely. Many microbreweries go overboard on the hops, and that’s not my thing. Other drinkers love it, and can’t understand why I like my stout so much. You also have to keep a bit of an eye on the alcohol content. It’s not unusual to find it’s 9%, and that packs quite a punch. Besides the experiments of hip young brewers, there are also beers made by traditional small-scale breweries and brewpubs. Often with a high drinkability factor. My recommendation is to remain open-minded and just give it a try. Or to have a go at brewing yourself. Or both, like I do.
Below I’ll introduce you to Bremen-based breweries that – with one exception – sell their craft beer in their own brewpubs. The list is in order of the number of taps. Oh yes, and the exception: Craft Bier Bar Bremen. With 40 taps it’s the clear winner, and they do have some craft beer from Bremen. Just none that they’ve brewed themselves.
You’ll find this lovely bar in the city centre, near Wallanlagen Park. They don’t serve food, but they do have popcorn and crisps. You order right at the bar. The draught beer is only served in small measures, 0.25 litres to be precise. But that’s good, as it means you can try different beers. And talking of trying: if you’re unsure, you can always ask for, or may well be offered, a taster before you buy. No need to pay for something you don’t like. In addition to the 40 types of draught beer, there are a further 100 types of bottled beers to choose from. Prost! Beers from Bremen are sold here, but you won’t find any Beck’s. And they also have ‚tap takeovers‘ where the barrels are swapped, offering drinkers the opportunity to discover something new.
The toilet doesn’t have barrier-free access, but the rest of the bar does. ‚Proper‘ tables can be found at the back.
The Union Brewery is situated in the district of Walle, in exactly the same spot where a brewery of the same name once stood. A location with plenty of heritage, then, but also a particularly delightful building. The pub offers good food and tastings, while the beer garden has room for parties and watching football. You can also learn all there is to know about beer during guided tours of the brewery and beer seminars. On certain days it’s even possible to get involved in the brewing yourself. And it’s not just their own beer that you can drink there, they also have guest beers from partner breweries. The beers can also be purchased in the shop. Keep an eye out for their events, like the craft beer days that take place twice a year.
The Union Brewery values local sourcing particularly highly. Suppliers from Bremen are great, but even better are those who are also based in the Walle district. You can buy Bremen’s only organic beer here, which was created in partnership with Martinshof, a charity that helps people with disabilities find work.
The Union also has an outpost in the Peterswerder district, right on Brommyplatz square.
The venue in Walle is fully accessible, the disabled toilet is located to the left of the bar.
Two Beers can be found down a side street in Bremen’s Steintor quarter. It is owned by the Grebhans brewery, but it also sells other beers. The bar is quite small and a bit cramped, or cosy, if you prefer. It was pretty busy when I went there, so it probably makes sense to book ahead.
The main area is reasonably accessible (there are two accessible tables without bar stools or a bench), the toilet is level but not fully wheelchair-accessible. I seem to remember there is a small step on the way in.
Bremer Braumanufaktur sells Hopfenfänger beer. The former schnapps factory now holds brewing seminars, and they grow their own hops on a plot on an urban farm in Bremen. Relatively new to Bremen is the Markthalle Acht market hall, as is the Hopfenfänger stall inside. The hall lies right on Domshof street, in the city centre, with access to the Manufactum department store. You can move around the Markthalle freely, so you can browse the other stalls selling food, wine, etc.
The Markthalle is barrier-free, there is an accessible public toilet.
Probably the most traditional craft beer in Bremen is made by Schüttinger. It feels like this brewpub, just off Böttcherstrasse, has been around for ever. And there’s no place more central. Many visitors to Bremen end up here, but I also enjoy going when there isn’t a party on. That’s when it gets noisy, and they don’t play my type of music; for others that’s when things really get going. The main area is on several levels and quite large, but still manages to be very welcoming. And the price is right. You can choose between a light or a dark beer. That’s it. Food-wise they serve many typical Bremen dishes, and portion sizes are generous. You can also book brewery tours here.
My research shows that Schüttinger hasn’t yet made it onto the blogger radar. It’s about time it does!
Schüttinger is not barrier-free.
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What are your favourite venues? Which Bremen beer is your favourite? Which brewpub is the best? Have we missed somewhere? Keep your comments coming.