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Stone Brewing in Alt Mariendorf, Berlin

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Well it's true, a new SBahn station would make getting there a bit easier, but I'm still not convinced that the great masses will want to trek out there, I mean the garden is pleasant enough but there are more attractive places to drink a beer.

 

I don't know that Bierladen, my local is Lager Lager on Pflügerstrasse in Neukölln, small but well stocked with friendly service.

 

 

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I think Stone Berlin sustains itself by brewing beer to distribute around Europe. I've been there several times, including what should be 'peak times' and I never saw it even remotely full. Busy, yes, full, not even close. Whereas, I've seen Stone beers in London, which said 'made in Berlin' on the can. I think it's more of a special occasion type place, and I typically only go there when beer nerd friends are visiting from out of town.

 

I am a regular at Bier Laden on Kreuzbergstr. I've been going there for months and they know me quite well. I think they have the best selection of German craft beers in Berlin, that seems to be the focus. I'm the guy you see there Saturday afternoons when they open, sitting next to the toddler glued to the iPhone. The staff always gives my son a free Apfelschorle while daddy sips his pint. They also kind of double as a bar in the evenings. I've ended up there until 1am on a Friday night.

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2 hours ago, Brockman said:

I think Stone Berlin sustains itself by brewing beer to distribute around Europe.

Yeah, Berlin is their foothold in Europe. I'm sure they'd be happier if their gigantic restaurant were doing better, but it's the brewery and bottling part that's strategically important for their European plans.

 

I'm not a big fan of flavored or fortified beers myself, so I prefer Brlo on Gleisdreieck - which has the extra advantage of being centrally located, instead of on the ass end of nowhere in Mariendorf.

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I really like BRLO too and I am a semi-regular there. I would probably like it more if better food was available at the outside kiosk, the interior restaurant is not that great in the summer. But oh well, the beer selection is great, and it's usually pretty quick to queue up and order even when it is rammed. I think the staff is very pleasant as well, a rarity in Berlin.

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Did a little grocery shopping at my local Edeka yesterday and they had a fairly large display of Stone products tucked up against the cash registers - Arrogant Bastard Ale and a couple other varieties at €2.49 per can (plus deposit, natch).

 

Either the shelf-stockers were very conscientious or they've wildly misjudged their market, because there wasn't a single can missing from the entire display.

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Their Xocoveza is amazing, but the Arrogant Bastard Ale is seriously wrong.  I guess I fit the marketing on the can because I did not get it and it tasted awful to me.  

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Can't say I'm surprised, but do have some sympathy for the founder who comes across with lots of spirit. Makes you wonder what was left on the cutting room floor from the "Beer Jesus" film.

 

Really wonder whether Brewdog can make the location work, they already have their place in Mitte so why would you want to trek out to Mariendorf?

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I guess I'm gonna be one of the hundreds of people who owe Stone's founder a nickel, because I called it when they opened: too big, too expensive, too far away from anything significant. Contrast that with Brlo, for example, which scored a key location right under Gleisdreieck, literally connected to everything.

 

I can add another thing to that list, too: I think putting the beer in cans instead of bottles for retail distribution was a cardinal mistake. Stone's founder said he wanted to do something against Germany's reliance on cheap beer, but beer aficionados who might be willing to pay more for premium brews hate cans. They're also far more expensive than Lemke and BigDog (which both come in bottles), without any perceptible difference in quality.

 

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From the blog post:

When we saw much of Germany stuck in a similar status quo of cheap beer, we were convinced we could help. As it stands now, German beer prices are the cheapest in Western Europe. As most of us know from life, the best things are rarely the cheapest.

Amazing beer is being brewed by amazing brewers all over the country. Unfortunately, according to the stats, most Germans are still ignoring these wonderful beers and buying the cheap stuff.

I find this to not be the case in Berlin. Since I moved to Berlin in early 2015, 3 bars serving only craft beer opened up within walking distance of my apartment, and numerous others have opened all throughout the city. All of these establishments are selling €5-8 pints and are perpetually packed, at least every time I've visited. I myself am not a huge fan of most of Stone's beers, I find them to be too intense and difficult to drink and pair with food. I consider myself a craft beer enthusiast, but I also like to drink beer in quantity, which means that one won't find €6-7 cans of 8.5% beer in my fridge. I'll spend that to drink in a bar for a craft beer I really liked, but for the everyday 'drinking' beer, I go to Hoffmann!

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I find it a bit obnoxious that they seem to equate "cheap beer" with "bad beer", implying that the products made by "old fashioned" german breweries are not good because they are cheap.  And as if all expensive beer is good?!  That's awfully convenient, isn't it?

 

anyway, cheap == bad is just not accurate, in Germany at least. Aside from Spaten helles (which I just don't like - I can't even tell you why, I just don't), I have yet to taste any standard, "cheap" German beer that is anything less than very drinkable and tasty, for the styles represented. My main gripe is not with the quality, but with the lack of variety.   

 

To be honest I have not had many German "craft" beers that were worth drinking, let alone buying at a jacked up price.  And funny enough, some of the better ones are not even that expensive.  To whit, Maisel is selling some really good crafy stuff in addition to their classic hefes, and while other craft bottles are selling at Rewe for around 2.99/330ml, Maisel's IPA, Pale Ale and Choco Porter sell for less than 1.50 when I manage to find it.  If I can't find it, I just go with something imported, eg sierra nevada, if I've got that itch.  It's the same price as German craft brews and I already know it's damned good. 

 

yeah Maisel has a pricing advantage from already having a sizeable brewery at their disposal as well as a stable product base, but the premise is there for any of the larger breweries to latch onto.  I mean, some breweries in Germany are a thousand freaking years old.  They can offer new styles (in theory) at more reasonable cost since they already have the facilities, the distribution pathways, etc.  I myself think this could be the key to opening the German market to a wider variety of styles:  partner with the established producers.

 

anyway, Stone has been around a long long time.  Even in the US I found their beers underwhelming at best, and pretty offensive at worst (arrogant bastard, indeed).  And yes, crazy expensive.  Stuff it, Stone. you ain't all that.

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Germans have a bias against almost anything American.  They'll use the old canard about "quality" as if their products are superior (they're not) or complain about price or just because it wasn't invented here.  Almost always, in the end, whatever was started in the U.S. eventually (10 years later) becomes mainstream in the EU, not the other way around and it just irks them to no end.  What happened to Stone is a cautionary tale for any other startup in Germany and a warning to stay away with new ideas, products and businesses...and that's the way they like it.

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Explaining why Apple doesn't sell any iPhones or computers in Germany, right?

 

Sorry, you can't play the anti-American card here. Trying to teach Germans how to brew beer is like Starbuck's and Domino's trying to teach the Italians how to make espresso and pizza. They didn't fail because they were shunned as an American product. They failed because they misread the market.

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1 hour ago, lisa13 said:

 

 

anyway, cheap == bad is just not accurate, in Germany at least. Aside from Spaten helles (which I just don't like - I can't even tell you why, I just don't), I have yet to taste any standard, "cheap" German beer that is anything less than very drinkable  ...

 

 

Berliner Kindl.

 

Nuff said

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2 hours ago, Brockman said:

most Germans are still ignoring these wonderful beers and buying the cheap stuff.

I find this to not be the case in Berlin

 

Well, yeah.  I mean he is literally correct, most germans dont drink 5-8€ craft beers.  The fact thre are 3 specialist bars in the area doesnt disprove that, ni fact there would have to be about 3 specialist bars per street for it to even be possible that *most* germans drink it.

 

I think its more that they had unrealistic expectations, germans like (dont hate me) shit beer.  For all the talk, they actually like drinking bland beers and smugly go on about the reinheitgebot as if that magically makes beer better.  Sure, there are some decent beers made in germany, but the vast majority of the market is uninteressting.  Stone thought they could change that, they thought they could be the starbucks of hipster beers and they simply couldnt get it going.  

 

Sure there are plenty of craft beer events in berlin and they pull in hundreds of (mostly expat from my experience) drinkers which is an insignificant drop in the ocean of drinkers in berlin.

 

2 minutes ago, catjones said:

Germans have a bias against almost anything American.  They'll use the old canard about "quality" as if their products are superior (they're not) or complain about price or just because it wasn't invented here. 

 

Its not just ok, but positively wonderful to hate anything american at the moment, even many americans get in on hating the place.

 

1 minute ago, El Jeffo said:

teach the Italians how to make espresso and pizza.

 

pizza as it is known to the world owes at least as much to the us as it does to anything italian, italy is in food terms stuck in the past and has been left behind.  And espresso, italian espresso is undrinkable, look to australia and new zealand or scandinavia to see what decent coffee looks like.  

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8 minutes ago, catjones said:

Germans have a bias against almost anything American. 

 

I see - that's the reason the Germans don't buy Beck's, Diebels, Hasseröder, Franziskaner, Löwenbräu et al. All American, all InBev. LOL

 

8 minutes ago, catjones said:

 

hat happened to Stone is a cautionary tale for any other startup in Germany and a warning to stay away with new ideas, products and businesses...and that's the way they like it.

 

What exactly is new about craft beer? Or did you mean especially expensive craft beer in cans? 

 

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1 hour ago, zwiebelfisch said:

For all the talk, they actually like drinking bland beers

 

I don't think that's a fair assessment.  There are many more flavorful options beyond helles and pils that are still very traditionally German - bocks (how many kinds are there?), alt, goze, kellar, kölsch, schwarz, rauch, and how many styles of hefe?  The irony is that many of these styles are precisely the ones picked up in the US and produced as "craft beers"

 

they don't really need to replicate helles (though they'd be wise to) as most "lawnmower beers" are already lagers.  Lagers are what they are.  It's that simple.

 

I personally miss maltier ales and floral (not just bitter) hop flavors.  

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3 hours ago, someonesdaughter said:

What exactly is new about craft beer?

It's existence in Europe.  I can remember when almost every german town brewed their own (mostly pils) beer.  Those days are long gone.  The movement back to microbreweries is an American phenom.  It just is.

 

3 hours ago, zwiebelfisch said:

Its not just ok, but positively wonderful to hate anything american at the moment, even many americans get in on hating the place.

" And while folks like Fritz Maytag took over Anchor Brewing in 1965 and intrepid homebrewer Jack McAuliffe opened what is sometimes called the “first microbrewery” in 1976, the two men most commonly associated with the foundations of the craft industry are Jim Koch and Ken Grossman, aka Sam and Sierra. "

 

3 hours ago, someonesdaughter said:

I see - that's the reason the Germans don't buy Beck's, Diebels, Hasseröder, Franziskaner, Löwenbräu et al. All American, all InBev. LOL

Actually those are all European beers...not American beers.

 

3 hours ago, zwiebelfisch said:

Its not just ok, but positively wonderful to hate anything american at the moment, even many americans get in on hating the place.

 

You are confusing hating the place with hating the governing.

4 hours ago, El Jeffo said:

They failed because they misread the market.

And the market is anti-American products.

 

I remember talking with an older WWII german vet...never forget his take, "We lost the war, the Americans didn't win it".

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14 hours ago, zwiebelfisch said:

I think its more that they had unrealistic expectations, germans like (dont hate me) shit beer.  For all the talk, they actually like drinking bland beers and smugly go on about the reinheitgebot as if that magically makes beer better.  Sure, there are some decent beers made in germany, but the vast majority of the market is uninteressting.  Stone thought they could change that, they thought they could be the starbucks of hipster beers and they simply couldnt get it going.  

 

 

Craft beer is more widely available in Budapest, Peterburg, Warsaw, Krakow, and even Tallinn, then it is in Berlin.   The Polish have told me that the Czechs and Germans resist craft beers because they feel compelled to defend their tradition.   

 

German beer seems to be 95% Pilsner, 2-3% Hefeweizen and 1-2% other, e.g. Kellarbier, Alt, Bock, Berliner Weisse.    Beers like Jever are a bit different, but for the most part, I find different brands of Pilsner to be almost indistinguishable.   

 

I don't drink much beer and even though I avoid more than a small glass of Pale Ale, I have recommended it to Germans simply because it is different.  

 

 

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28 minutes ago, balticus said:

The Polish have told me that the Czechs and Germans resist craft beers because they feel compelled to defend their tradition.   

 

Right, its exactly the same with Italy and pizza or coffee.  They would rather be stuck a century ago when they led the world than enjoy the present day. 

 

That said, we shouldnt be too hard on them many people have a ridiculous rose tinted "everything was better before" outlook on life.

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