Berlin breweries in Prenzlauer Berg

Photo Catherine Gras

I have already had the opportunity to deal with Berlin’s industrial past and its cultural heritage from the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century with posts on Siemenstadt, Schöneweide or the AEG workshops.

Change of district and industry for this post which focuses on breweries. Beer is part of German culture and Berlin is no exception. But few people know that the city was one of the top places, if not THE place, for beer production in Europe in the mid-19th century.

The majority of the breweries were located in the Prenzlauer Berg district, the mountain (Berg) of Prenzlau, a town in northwestern Brandenburg. The low price of land at the time and the location of the district on a hillside favoured the construction of cellars and the brewing business.

Around the Schönhauser Allee, at least 13 breweries were operated between the second half of the 19th and the first half of the 20th century. This favourable period came to an end with the First World War and most of them closed down.

The oldest known breweries are the Pfefferberg Brewery (opened in 1841), the Königstadt Brewery (1851), the Schultheiss Brewery (1853) and the Bötzow Brewery (1861).

Pfefferberg is the oldest and, above all, the only one of the three still in existence today. However, its activity has evolved over time until it returned to its original use as a brewery in 2013.

After the end of the First World War, the Pfefferberg Brewery was taken over by the Schultheiss Brewery (a name you will find again shortly after), and beer production was stopped in 1921. Until the Second World War, various owners and users, such as a chocolate factory and a bread factory, settled on the site.

The grounds of the former brewery were very extensive and have been the subject of various architectural projects and extensive renovation over the last ten years:

It is worthwhile to walk through the various buildings and be surprised by the different periods and styles. You can also eat in the brewery or have a drink outside, a little higher up the street (Schönhäuser Allee).

Not far away is the Schulheiss Brewery. This was the largest brewery in the world at one time and what remains of it is impressive.

The building is in Romanesque Revival style and ceased to be a brewery in 1967.

The buildings were extensively renovated after the fall of the wall, Prenzlauer Berg was in East Berlin. Today, there is a theatre, a club, shops and a small, free museum about life in the GDR, which I recommend.

In addition to these two old breweries, you will see many other buildings of the same type and from the same period, the remains of this beer culture.

This area used to be a working class area, which it is not at all today. I invite you to visit it if you spend some time in Berlin, at least to come and have a drink … of beer.

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