When it comes to beer, the Germans are happy with a local pilsener. But at Herman bar in Prenzlauer Berg, Belgian Bart Neirynck aims to introduce his guests to the diverse beers of his homeland.
Bart Neirynck stands in front of a tall shelf packed with colorful Belgian beer bottles. He's still reeling from the night before, reports the Flemish proprietor of purist pub Herman – after celebrating a friend's birthday. But his own bar and the beer on the shelf is not at fault this time. For the past six years, Bart Neirynck has been passionately pursuing his mission to popularize the wild world of Belgian brewing in Berlin through the medium of his pub, located near Senefelder Platz in Prenzlauer Berg. One of his specialties is the highoctane Trappist, a beer which has been brewed for centuries by monks and which comes in a dizzying 43 varieties. His menu contains nearly a hundred beers all told, including a number of varieties of 'gueuze' which is made by blending sour lambic beers of different ages. But Bart Neyrinck hasn’t spent his whole life immersed in bar culture. Born and raised in Flanders, he studied painting in Ghent before moving to California, where he learned the art of filmmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute. Afterwards, he returned to Belgium and worked in his grandfather’s carpet store.
Focused on people, and beer
With the money he'd saved and no particular plan in mind, he moved on to Rome. His savings soon evaporated, and that's when he began to tend bars. It was behind the bar of a Swedish establishment on Rome's Campo de Fiori that he cobbled together the experience he would later need to open Herman. He soon followed his German girlfriend to the banks of the Spree. Bart Neirynck sees his no-frills beer bar – which he named after a beloved German teacher from his school days – as an aesthetic counter-statement to the twee establishments found back in Belgium. His look is characterized by high ceilings, blank walls, a minimalist interior. Just like in good films, there is nothing to distract from the main attraction. "In my bar, I want the focus to be on the people," says Bart Neirynck. "And, of course, on the beer." His offerings are just as diverse as his clientele. But while the latter hail from all corners of the earth, his brews are somewhat more exclusive – only the finest Belgians are invited.
Author: Christoph David Piorkowski
Schönhauser Allee 173
10119 Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg