German craft beer distributors are still a rare breed. But things are improving. Andrew Wilkin has compiled a list of the leading craft movers and shakers.
Until a couple of years ago international craft beer brands were hard to find in Germany. But thanks to a number of distribution companies that has changed. The German beer market has opened up considerably in the last few years – new brewers are starting up all the time and German consumers, previously hamstrung by the fabled Reinheitsgebot, have never had so much access to craft beer. Considering all these factors we felt it was apt timing to take a look at the most relevant German craft beer distributors for regional specialties and craft beer. Enjoy!
Established in 2010, Braufactum is undeniably one of the pioneers of the craft beer movement in Germany. As well as distributing their own high-quality craft beers – of which there are now 15 – they import Italian, US, British and Belgian beers. Braufactum also boasts many exclusive partners such as Palm, Steenbrugge, Boon, Firestone Walker, Birrificio Italiano, Gypsy Inc. and Mikkeller. Distribution is nationwide and expect an unbroken cool chain – your beer stays fresh, from the brewery to the moment of consumption.
Bierlinie is a Berlin-based independent beer importer and distributor. Set up back in 1991, it also lays claim to being a pioneer for Germany’s craft beer wave. Originally just for Dutch and Belgian “special beers”, they now distribute beers from all around the world – over 500 different brands in fact. Exclusive brands include Samuel Adams – Boston Beer Company, Chimay, Westemalle, Duvel-Moortgat, Jenlain, Brouwerij het IJ., St Bernardus, Brussels Beerproject and Viven. Bierlinie distributes to bars, shops and other distributors throughout Germany.
3) Derer Import
Berlin’s member of our list of leading German craft beer distributors, Derer Import ships nationwide and focussses on independent international breweries. The most requested orders however are for beers from Germany and the heartland of the movement – the United States. Exclusives include Left Hand, Smuttynose, Victory, Latitude 42, Saugatuck, Fifty Fifty and North Coast from the U.S and EU beers such as Kompaan, White Pony and Ghost. They are expanding through offering direct delivery and right now offer delivery in Bavaria, East Germany, North Germany (up until Münster) and sometimes Southwest Germany.
4) Bier Deluxe
Bier Deluxe deserves the deluxe tag as the biggest German craft beer distributor and online shop. In direct contact with the breweries, they count US and German breweries in their range, from Brooklyn Brewery to Firestone Walker, Propeller to Kuehn Kunz Rosen. Exclusives here include Ballast Point, Brewfist, Coronado, CraftCountry Brewery, Karl Strauss, Saint Archer and Tiny Rebel.
5) Bierkompass/Getränke Rudat
Bierkompass may exist online with a swish interface but the importation and selling of the beer has been given over to Dortmund’s Getränke Rudat (Sebastian Sauer, Head of Bierkompass, now focuses on merely his own production). Getränke Rudat is a “beer shop for beers and craft beers from all over the world, even for local and national beers in bottles and kegs”, explains founder Christian Rudat. They import an alternating range of high-quality US & Canadian brands as well as European ones, including highly respected breweries like Cantillon, Jopen and Del Ducato. And there’s three big exclusives to note here – De Molen (Netherlands), To Øl and Nøgne ø (both Copenhagen). Distribution? It goes further than Germany, with distribution offered in Europe, too.
Brausturm is a German craft beer distributor based in Hamburg for both international and national craft beer breweries. They distribute to stores, bars and retailers in “well-urbanized regions and cities all over Germany” and specialize in beers from the Nordic region, although their ambitions stretch far further than that. They’re claiming Kernel (London), To Øl (Copenhagen), Pohjalla, Lervig Aktiebryggeri (Stavanger) and O’Haras (Ireland) amongst their exclusives. And expect some interesting collaborations – a Berliner Weisse with Sauerkraut has been brewed with Hamburg’s Buddelship Brauerei and Lervig Aktiebryggeri in Stavanger. A true German brew there!
Ambrosetti is a beer delivery specialist in Berlin, particularly to retail stores, delis and for major events – the Internationales Berliner Bierfestival to name just one. They specialize in Bavarian beer, bringing small and special beers from Franconia, Swabia and the various regions into Berlin. Ambrosetti also deliver other beverages – juices, mineral water and sodas for instance. With a 5000sqm warehouse in Berlin-Tegel and a bricks and mortar store at Schillerstrasse 103 in Charlottenburg, Ambrosetti really boasts big on-the-ground visibility.
8) Hamburg Beer Company
A North German entry in the list of leading German craft beer distributors is The Hamburg Beer Company, a subsidiary of the Nordmann group. The Hamburg Beer Company boasts a full range of both international and national beers, focusing on both “high end” styles as well as more accessible ones – in their words, “to help introduce the German consumer to new tastes”. They distribute all around Germany and both to trade and gastronomy outlets, from a central logistics platform consisting of a modern central warehouse with space for around 800 items.
9) Liquid Hops
Liquid Hops live up to their name, distributing many different beer styles throughout Germany. However, the focus is squarely on “smaller, innovative breweries with high-quality standards.” The Augsburg-based distributor are after “unusual” beers, only available in limited editions or in small numbers. Amongst many others, Liquid Hops stock Beavertown, Riegele and Hoppebräu and one exclusive to note is Evil Twin, the brewery run by Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergso – brother of Mikkeller founder Mikkel Borg Bjergso.
10) One Pint
Bjarne Mark Hoier is known to be one of the most experienced entrepreneurs in Central Europe’s beer business. So it comes at no surprise that his import and distribution company One Pint GmbH is praised by both beer bars and regional wholesalers as a reliable and knowledgeable source and partner – thus making it a member of our list of leading German craft beer distributors. One Pint distributes a wide range of beers in both bottles and casks. While the company started off with their exclusive Fuller’s and a focus on Scandinavian brews, there’s now also a wide range of German beer specialties on offer. International beers distributed by One Pint are Samuel Smith, Kona, Red Hook, Innis & Gunn, Belhaven, Jopen, Green King Beer Here, Midtfyns Bryghus, and St Austell.
A version of this article was first published on the Brew Berlin blog.