US Beers Try to Penetrate German Market

Talk about an uphill battle


At a recent tasting in one Berlin bar, guests sipped craft beers out of special vessels shaped like wineglasses that helped concentrate the aromas of the brew. The bar was furnished in a decidedly Berlin style — it was a subterranean lair where beakers of bubbling fluorescent liquids served as decoration, the tables appeared to be made from welded-together car parts, and fake stalactites hung from the ceiling — but the discussion was all West Coast, about the virtues of various hops and of sour and fruity tastes that are foreign to German palates.

"It's easy to get decent beer in Germany. We call it boredom on a high level," said Dirk Hoplitschek, one of the attendees at the tasting. He started a beer-rating Web site in Berlin to try to stoke interest in non-German beer, hoping to spark a craft-brewing renaissance like America's in the late 1970s.

"The United States has a 30-year head start," he said. "People are traditional here. Maybe it'll be a bit slower, but it'll happen."