We absolutely adore HOME, a new British pub-styled bar in Friedrichshain offering excellent international beers, comfy chairs, intimate acoustic concerts and Berlin’s very best pub quiz! British owners James Andrews and Kate Jones are as lovely to know as their regulars, so we sent them a few questions to find out how HOME came about…
HOME is a truly awesome beer bar, yet it has a distinctly British pub feel to it. Were your previous backgrounds in pubs before you set up HOME?
Thank you very much for the compliment!
Being a musician and artist respectively, we’ve always found ourselves needing a day (or night) job to support ourselves and the creative work we were doing, so we’ve always found ourselves doing this kind of bar work since we were teenagers.
Just over 3 years ago we made the decision to move to Berlin, to eventually open a bar at some point. Obviously coming from England we always wanted to bring the British pub culture into it, but it wasn’t until we got to Berlin we realised how much it was missing here, aside from the odd Irish bar, so it was good news for us and inevitable how we’d approach setting the thing up.
The bar stands out from most others with a wide, quality range of craft beers from around the world. How extensive was the process of selecting your first beers and how often do you rotate them?
Luckily deciding the beer list was the easy part. We’re from a country with long standing brewing traditions (let’s not forget where Pale Ale and IPA came from!), and we both grew up appreciating micro-breweries and the huge variety of beers in existence, long before the craft beer thing arrived in the UK.
We work really hard to find the best beers we can from suppliers in Berlin, and continue to look abroad to find products that no one else has yet, like Yeastie Boys from New Zealand and Gwynt Y Ddraig from Wales. We always chop and change our beers, mainly to keep ourselves entertained.
What were the biggest challenges to overcome when setting up and launching HOME?
Having day jobs whilst setting up the company was pretty hardcore. Also, neither of us had ever owned a business before, so it was very much ‘learning by doing’, and we definitely felt the pressure of knowing that any mistakes could really cost us.
Lots of lessons learnt now though, so it was all good experience really.
Do you think it’s easier to launch a bar in Berlin than your former home London, and if so, why?
It’s probably easier to set a bar up here, cheaper rents and general living costs aside. The UK has very stringent alcohol and opening and closing time laws (No wonder really, being a nation of drunks!), and general licensing and founding a company seems easier here, or so we’ve read. We’re not saying it was a walk in the park, bureaucracy and us don’t get along very well, but it could have been a lot worse.
We’d also say that the idea of owning a pub offering world beers is much more unique at this present time here in Berlin than it is in say London.
If you could take an unlimited supply of one beer each from your HOME range to a desert island, what would it be and why?
James: Schneider Weisse’s Aventinus Eisbock. At 12% ABV, it’d be ideal to keep you warm at night, and very important for those long existential daydreams staring out to sea, hoping to see a ship or hoping a plane sees your beer bottle S.O.S sign…
Kate: Well I would have to take our house beer “Freddy’s Grove” made for us by Northern Monk in the UK, mainly because I can make a cheesy pun about how even though I’d be far away I could always have a taste of home when I needed it! Also, because its god damn delicious!
In what way is the craft beer scene in Berlin different to London?
When we first arrived in the city a few years ago we would have said no comparison, completely different things, but over the last couple of years things have really started to change.
About 7 or 8 years ago James was working in one of the first dedicated world beer pubs in London at the time, and you get the sense that what’s happening in Berlin now is like what was happening then in London. We can see the same patterns (more bars offering alternative products, new small breweries being founded, people starting to understand there’s more to life than industrial Lager/Pils).
The hope is that this wave of newly found enthusiasm for good beer in Berlin continues in the same way it did in London.
Yes definitely. On one side, all of these different beer styles are completely new to a lot of people, so it can be a lot of fun helping customers take their first step into the unknown.
On the other side, we’re not really beer experts ourselves. We think it’s the greatest drink in the world, but we’re learning so much everyday from knowledgeable folk who drink in our bar, so it kind of splits in two. We also have a lot of spirit and long drinkers in the bar; we ain’t all just about beer!
One of the best events you host is your superb pub quiz. It’s serious fun (supplying mixed drinks for customers to guess each ingredient and playing songs backwards!) and done in both German and English. This is something quite unique in Germany, has the response from Berliners surprised you?
There are other places in Berlin that host pub quizzes but its nothing like in England where pretty much every pub has one. We were surprised how popular ours is with Berliners as we had anticipated it to be much more of an expat event, but it’s pretty much half and half.
We were incredibly lucky to find such a great quiz master too, it’s a really hard thing to do as it’s a lot more than just reading questions. It’s become such a fun night now as there is a lot of (friendly) rivalry and banter between the teams who play every week, it’s definitely one of our favourite nights.
Where do you both like to eat and drink in Berlin?
There are a few places that spring to mind…
To drink of course we love all the other places in Berlin offering beautiful beer (when we find the time to visit them!).
Probably our favourite place to eat and drink though is a beautiful Brewpub near where we live in Friedrichshain called Schalander Hausbrauerei, offering delicious German food, and classic and tasty German beer styles. That place deserves more attention!
Complete the following sentence “For me, Berlin is…”
“…home” (Sorry, it had to be done!)
We highly recommend a visit to HOME for some cracking beer (we recently had a lovely Earl Grey infused one from New Zealand!) and relaxed vibes with a distinctly British feel!
We cannot emphasise how fun their awesome pub quiz is (plus it’s in German AND English!!!) so do be sure to book a table and pop down for that on Wednesdays!
You can keep up with their events on Facebook HERE