After seeing the abandoned Bärenquell Brewery from the train and doing a quick recon visit it was apparent that this urban exploration trip would take some serious planning. With 3m high walls and a sea of razor wire, it was fast looking like an impenetrable fortress. Our only options were to arrive by boat on the River Spree followed by climbing up with a grappling hook or to hire a very tall ladder, along with a car and leap over the abundance of razor wire. This was a welcome challenge for us, the ever ‘hoptimists’.
Construction of this grand red brick structure started in 1882, back then it was called “Borussia”. At the end of the 19th Century, Berlin was the brewery capital of Europe and business was good. In the years to come other buildings were added including the large turret seen from the road, staff quarters and a couple of warehouses. The brewery had many different names until 1959 when several beer production companies decided to go under the one name: ‘VEB Berlin’, all were produced at the Bärenquell Brauerei.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, many companies in East Berlin found themselves going under. The East Berliners were all keen to get their hands on the forbidden West Berlin beer meaning that there was not much business left for the Bärenquell Brauerei especially with stiff competition. In 1994 the brewery closed its doors for good which was a big deal at the time, the brewery was one of the four main breweries in Berlin alongside Kindl, Berliner Pilsner and Schultheiss. The brewing of the Bärenquell beer was outsourced and ceased in 2014.
The wind whistled through the buildings in a haunting manner, not knowing what or who we would find, the excitement was rising and with adventure in our eyes we soaked up this abandoned place. The brewery was like a maze of biblical proportions, we zig-zagged our way through the many rooms, some still containing machinery left over from its hay-day. Each corner provided a new escapade and new historical findings from beer mats to invoices. A metal stairway led up to what would have been a manager’s office overlooking the River Spree, the second step worn out from feet climbing hastily to their superior. A beer bottle sat on a window untouched, still intact and containers of cleaning solution sat in the yard, sorted into bins.
The smell of burning was fresh in our nostrils as we walked through many of the charred rooms, the heavy metal doors and windows still intact. As usual, the graffiti offered some comfort of human presence. Many eerie staircases appeared in the strangest locations, leading down into haunting darkness. One staircase in particular, led to where the beer was once kept in tanks. We crouched as we made our way through the pitch-black labyrinth rudely lighting the way with our phones, hoping not to find anything too gruesome.
Light poured in through the ajar windows creating beautiful shapes on the ground, outside in the yard a hose leaked from a large tub of rainwater making us feel like we were not alone. This was by far one of the most exciting places I had explored. I think purely due to the fact that it was so impossible to get into which ensured that the vandalism was not at its worst.
The yard was home to many piles of discarded items, once carefully organised only to be left to nature, adding an even more post-apocalyptic feel to the brewery. The accommodation for the employees was decadent, curtains still hung from the bathroom window which boasted a thick glass privacy wall in the shower. Several heavy-duty safes withstood the test of time on the bare floorboards offset by the peeling wallpaper and graffiti. This building took was the ultimate alt bau, the ceilings stretched above us with doorways as tall as two stories.
The Bärenquell Brewery is a listed building so the state refused the owners requests to build a hardware store in its place. In 2016 a new owner purchased the brewery and has been asked by the state to at least keep the listed building safe and inaccessible to vandals (the beer necessities). Today it serves as an art gallery for graffiti artists brave enough to face the razor wire and the 3m high walls.
We did not see a soul during this urban exploration adventure. Due to the large amount of razor-wire and the extremely high walls the brewery is almost inaccessible. The easiest way would be to go by boat and get in that way as on the river there is no security measures in place. With so many other easily accessible abandoned places this means that there is no one living there which usually is quite common in these types of places.
Thank you for stopping by, to read more of my urban exploration adventures you can click the related posts below or head here.
Disclaimer: I do not claim to have ever trespassed on this property nor do I condone doing so.
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