I was recently asked by an interviewer for a few thoughts on how supportive the local craft beer community was towards me when I first began doing craft beer tours. During the the entire interview only this question gave me pause and actually made me a bit emotional.
Honestly, I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t befriended the original crew of the Bierlieb bottle shop. From there I ended up pitching them my idea of a contemporary Craft Beer Tour since nobody else in Berlin was offering one at the time. Holger the owner gave me carte blanche and paid me just enough to keep something in the fridge and a roof over my head for a month before realizing he bit off more than he could chew financially. Yet when we finally did have to part ways professionally it was done so in total friendship. Which is more than I can say for most bosses I’ve had the 5 years I’ve called Berlin home. Through Bierlieb and some of my own footwork I met Dan Stein of Flying Turtle Brewery, Adi of Monterey Bar, Johannes of Heidenpeters and many other craft beer lovers that truly supported me and wanted to see me succeed in making the first beer tour that represented Berlin’s craft scene in as honest a way as possible. Whether it was giving me the keys to their breweries, special access to events, or even the spontaneous pony keg to share with my guests. The Berlin craft beer community really came through and rarely tried to edge me out or make me feel like I owed them anything. Which was great, because I spent the better part of my first year doing this working solely for tips so I didn’t have much else to give.
In the end I had told her the truth as I experienced it. That as long as you’re passionate about beer, the Berlin Craft Community will always roll out the red carpet whether you’re a little start-up tour business, a gypsy brewer without a brewery, or simply someone who wants to try something new. However, if you’re just coming to Berlin to make a quick buck off craft beer and are willing to check passion and creativity at the door then you came to the wrong town chum.