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Bärenquell Brewery East Berlin Germany

Petar Djajkovski

The fall of the Berlin Wall impacted Germany, Europe, and the world in oh so many different ways. It changed the world. But it also changed the world of beer. It was known among all of the Germans that the West side made much better beer than the East side.

However, the East Germany folks could not access the sweet western beer. Not until the wall fell that is. When that happened, the sales of Eastern Berlin beer fell off rapidly, eventually spelling an end of many Eastern German breweries. This is a story about one of them.

The construction of this humongous beer factory started in 1882 when the first building was constructed, the official residence of the brewery. Over the next forty years or so ten more buildings were added on the premises around the official residence. One was the administrative building with its tower in neo-Renaissance style, built in 1888. Three years later the bottle bearing building was added to the lo, sketched up and built in the Gothic revival architectural style.

The southern brewery building at Schnellerstrasse – Author: Lienhard Schulz – CC BY-SA 3.0

The southern brewery building at Schnellerstrasse – Author: Lienhard Schulz – CC BY-SA 3.0

Just a year afterward (1902) another neo-Gothic wing was added to it. This one would function as a barrel factory and a storage room. In 1906 the main four-stories central brewery building was constructed in the same Gothic style with a castle-like appearance.

Beer storage with cooling tower.

Beer storage with cooling tower.

After the central building was done, business was booming, and the brewery was doing nicely. What was left was to construct the other small but necessary facilities. Like a horse stable with a water tower in 1910, and the beer bottling cellar with a loading station that was used as a smaller warehouse as well. A couple more smaller warehouse buildings were built in 1920. As time moved forward some of the machinery needed repairs and the solution was very simple.

Machine and brewing house of the brewery just before 1910.

Machine and brewing house of the brewery just before 1910.

They constructed a workshop building in 1927, this time diverging from the usual Gothic style the workshop was done in the style of Expressionism. The architects behind all of the buildings were Emil Holland, Robert Buntzel, and H.O.Obrikat. Sadly today only two of them remain standing, the official residence building from 1882 and the Renaissance administrative building of the Director that was added in 1888.

Workshop building – Author: Josch12357

Workshop building – Author: Josch12357

Under Socialist rule, the Bärenquell Brewery had operated as a state-owned Volkseigenen enterprise. During the Treuhandanstalt programme of privatizing these businesses at the end of this era, the brewery was bought in 1990 by the Henniger brewery.

Administrative building and official residence.

Administrative building and official residence.

The last Berliner Pilsener Spezial beer was bottled on 1st of April 1994 when Bärenquell beer production was moved to Kassel. Since the beer was no longer brewed in Berlin, they changed the name from Berliner Pilsener Spezial to Original Pilsener Spezial. The brand changed hands one more time. However, Bärenquell beer ceased to be brewed in 2009.

Former horse stable.

Former horse stable.

After the brewery was closed some of the buildings remained to function as rental warehouses. Others were rented for different private business and small-time production factories. After a while all of them left the premises and every single building was abandoned. The place became closed to the public but that never stopped urban explorers and graffiti artist. It was also a place where young local people hung out and ironically drank beer.

Barrel factory and storage – Author: Josch12357 – Public Domain

Barrel factory and storage – Author: Josch12357 – Public Domain

The buildings days are not over and even though it is heavily damaged it just may be saved and renovated. As of 2014, Bärenquell Brauerei has a new owner, a firm that owns a chain of furniture shops has the papers for the property. The plan most likely is to open another mega furniture store on the premises. Some of the brewery’s smaller buildings have already been torn down to open place for the new shopping mall structure.