Szimpla Kaffee Budapest becomes Craft Beer Bar, specialising in East European beers

Szimpla Kaffeehaus Budapest on the corner of Boxhagener Platz in Friedrichshain (map link) has long been known as a cosy place to hang out, with strong connections to Hungary and the east European community. Behind the scenes, Szimpla has also hosted beer tastings and supported events for homebrewers.

Building on this success Szimpla has launched the new Craft Beer Bar with a specific focus on new and unique craft beers Eastern Europe (especially Hungary and Poland) as well as from some familiar Berlin craft beer breweries.

Watch out for special beer events, like the Hungarian tap takeover this Thursday, 09.07.2015 (Facebook link), with 7 kegged beers from Hungary being served in parallel.

Results Announcement for Berlin Homebrewing Competition 2015


The following are the results of the 2015 Competition, as selected by the Competition Judges.

Congratulations to all winners. Many thanks to all brewers for entering!!


Category 1: Pils & Helles

  1. PH004 / Jörg Schloemer with ‘Vienna Calling’ entered as Vienna Lager
  2. PH003 / Tilo Schwarzbach with ‘U Cerneho Konicka’ Bohemian Pilsner

Category 2: Wheat/Weizen beers

  1. WB001 / Sokratis Theodosiadis with ‘Random Encounter’ Hefeweizen
  2. WB002 / Dirk Nolte with ‘WHIPA’ Weizenbock

Category 3: Pale Ale & IPA

  1. PI015 / Jörg Schloemer with ‘Astro Pop’’ American Pale Ale
  2. PI016 / Daniel McIlmoyle with ‘BOOBY (Best of the Ordinary Bitters You’ll ever drink)’
  3. Special Mention (close 3rd place): PI029 / Clement Bel with ‘Citrarillo IPA’

Category 4: Brown Ale, Porter, Stout

  • BPS007 / Tilo Schwarzbach with ‘Schwarzer Winter’ Baltic Porter
  • BPS012 / Jörg Schloemer with ‘Dirty old town’ Extra Stout/Irish Stout


Overall Competition Winner: PH004 / Jörg Schloemer with ‘Vienna Calling’




  • Category Winners: All category winners can select 1kg of hops (up to 4 types) from Hobbybrauerversand (Hopfen & Mehr).
  • Runners-Up: All runners-up can select 25kg bag of malt from Hobbybrauerversand (Hopfen & Mehr).
  • Competition Winner: The competition winner, ‘Vienna Calling’ will be brewed at Heidenpeters brewery, Berlin in the autumn 2015.

Many thanks to Johannes Heidenpeter & Hobbybrauerversand for their generous sponsorship!

Beer registrations now closed for first annual Berlin Homebrewing Competition 2015


Registration is now closed for the first annual Berlin Homebrewing Competition 2015.

A total of 66 beers have been registered by Berlin/Brandenburg homebrewers, in the following categories:

 Competition Category # Beers Registered
 Pilsner & Helles  8
 Weizenbier  4
 Pale Ale & India Pale Ale  31
 Brown Ale, Porter & Stout  23
————— ————

Beers entries must be hand-delivered in two weeks, on Saturday, 02.05.2015.

Beer judging will take place at the end of May. Judges will be selected through technical and sensory tests in the next weeks.

Full details about the competition are on the official website: LINK

Berlin gets its own annual Homebrewing Competition!


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Homebrewing is relatively unknown in Germany. Rough estimates put the number of homebrewers in the capital city at around 200. Although rumours persist, Berlin still doesn’t have a proper homebrew supply store.

Yet, homebrewers have been key drivers of the renewed interest in beer in most other countries. In the U.S., there are over 1.2 million active homebrewers. Over 1,200 regional clubs have fostered a community of brewers and have been a launchpad for new commercial brewers in the last four decades. Homebrewing competitions have been a key driver in the formal definition of styles and beer judging criteria.

It is time that Berlin had its own regular homebrewing competition and I am delighted to announce that the first Berlin Hombrewing Competition will take place in 2015, with brewers having until May to brew and submit their beers.

Organised by volunteers, beers will be judged blindly by apanel of experienced brewers and homebrewers.

Beer Categories

Four beer categories have been defined. These categories have been chosen carefully, as we wish to acknowledge Germany’s own strong brewing traditions (wheat beers and more recently helles and pils) while also giving brewers experimenting with British styles (brown ale, porter and stout) and modern craft beer favourites (pale ale and IPA) the opportunity to let their hair down.

The four categories are:

  • Pils and Helles
  • Wheat Beers
  • Pale Ale and IPA
  • Brown Ale, Porter and Stout


Key Dates

The key dates are:

  • Registration of beer judges: 31.03.2015
  • Registration of beers: 18.04.2015
  • Hand delivery of beer bottles: 02.05.2015


Further Details

Blind German Pils Tasting #2 – Even Blinder


At the beginning of March this year, I co-organised a blind tasting of German Pils with Ludger Berges (owner of the specialist beer store, Hopfen & Malz), to determine if there was a difference in the quality of the pils being brewed by German ‘industrial’ brewers and smaller regional brewers. We were surprised by the outcome (see original report here).

Although there was a broad range in quality of the pils we sampled, with the smallest “craft brewed” pils in first place and two large industrial breweries scoring the lowest by far, we were particularly surprised by Oettinger pils coming in second position, beating three regional breweries. We decided then and there to try the tasting again, with a selection of different breweries and with tighter controls for the participants, in order to limit pre-conceptions and cross-contamination of opinions.


Blind(er) Tasting

On Saturday, 11. October, ten experienced beer enthusiasts volunteered their palates to this blind tasting. The participants included brewers, home-brewers and other beer professionals. As before, a total of eight German pilsners were tested, all poured from bottles out of view. Four were from large breweries and four from smaller regional breweries of different sizes. Only Ludger and I knew what breweries were involved at all. The remaining eight participants were tasting completely blind.


Comparative sizes of the breweries

  • Bitburger brews > 3 Mio hl p.a., all Pils
  • Oettinger Gotha brews an estimated 2 Mio. hl p.a.
  • Schultheiß brews is ca. 1 Mio hl p.a., but this includes Berliner Kindl and Berliner Pilsner
  • Weihenstephan brews 200.000 hl, but mainly Weizen
  • Waldhaus brews 50.000 hl p.a., about 80% pils
  • Keesmann is 20.000 hl p.a., about 50% pils
  • Huppendorfer is 15.000 hl p.a., < 10% pils
  • Hummel is 10.000 hl, mainly non-pils styles


8 x German Pils

8 x German Pils

Group Results

The following are the combined group results from all ten participants, using the German scoring system (1=very good, 6=very bad):

  1. Hummel Pils (average score: 2,7)
  2. Waldhaus Diplom Pils (average score: 2,8)
  3. Keesmann Herren Pils (average score: 2,9)
  4. Schultheiss (average score: 3,0)
  5. Oettinger (average score: 3,1)
  6. Huppendorfer (average score: 3,3)
  7. Weihenstephan Pils (average score: 3,4)
  8. Bitburger Pils (average score: 3,6)


Pils Tasting Notes

Personal Results

My own results broadly aligned with the averages:

  1. Hummel Pils (my score: 1,5)
  2. Huppendorfer Pils (my score: 2,5)
  3. Schultheiss & Bitburger Pils (my score: 3,0)
  4. Waldhaus Diplom Pils & Keesmann Herren Pils & Weihenstephan Pils (my score: 3,5)
  5. Oettinger Pils (my score: 5,0)



Comments on the Group Results

Once again, I cannot emphasise enough is just how difficult it is to identify these beers or tell them apart when you don’t have the bottle in front of you. This time around, the group results were less consistent. The tighter controls on the tasting (including silence once the beers were served), meant that every participant was making their decision in isolation.

In the Group Results, there was a general preference for the Pils from three smaller breweries (Hummel Pils, Waldhaus Diplom Pils and Keesmann Herren Pils leading the pack). However, this lead was very narrow and each beer beat the next-placed-beer by only 0.1. The Huppendorfer Pils scored poorly across the group. I was the only participant who awarded this beer a score higher than 3 and even then noted the light watery body and mild metallic finish.

Comments on my Personal Results

From my own results, my favourite – by far – was the Hummel Pils. This was the only Pils I awarded a score greater than 2,5. For me, this was the Pils with the most pronounced hop aroma, a wonderful spicey nose, perfectly balanced with the delicious malty body. There was even a very mild but pleasant buttery note (diacetylphobes beware!) with an extremely well-balanced finish. Delicious!

My least favourite Pils – by far – was the Oettinger Pils, scoring a 5,0. This time around, this Pils had a vegetal DMS note in the nose, an extremely watery body and an unpleasant soapy after taste.

Further Investigation

Plans are already being made for the next Blind Pils tasting in 2015. Next time around, we will take the ‘Best Before’ date (Mindestenshaltbarkeitsdatum; MHD) into consideration as an additional factor. We have already set up the protocol, bottles are being aged and we intend to explore every angle of Germany’s favourite beer style in detail. Watch this space….

Many thanks to Ludger for hosting and to the participants for contributing their palates and good humour on a rainy Saturday afternoon.


……. and as before: please do try this at home!