The Muted Horn – Berlin’s Neon Craft Beer Lighthouse

By hopcave
October 24, 2019

I was recommended to check out the Muted Horn during my frequent trips from Münster to Berlin.

Upon arrival I was immediately fascinated with the tap selection, 22 taps meant craft beer paradise plus an outstanding bottle list. All of this summed up in a cosy and welcoming place. With an offer like this, the Horn was guaranteed to be a place I would definitely return to.
When I discovered that they were also organising insane tap takeovers and events, I knew once again that I had to move to Berlin and not miss out on the crazy beers that would be pouring. Seeing how people enjoyed the beers, the food and praised the Muted Horn through social media, was a punishment that I had to put an end to! I had to move to Berlin and become a regular of the bar!

With the increase of my visits, I was able to meet and get to know Jenia and Corbin, an extremely friendly and knowledgeable Canadian couple, who would have always taken the time to get to know their clients and recommend great new beers.

I always appreciate the attention and service that owners and barkeepers give because when they get to know you, they know what beer you want and Jenia and Corbin know that I will go crazy for Triple IPA’s and Imperial Stouts. So, when something like this has arrived at the bar and I come in, they just smile and laugh and know what they have to pour me.

The Muted Horn has also been a place where I have adventured in trying styles that I usually do not drink, especially saison’s and wild ales. I love the fact that they also know that I am not a big fan of the style, but they once again take the time to talk me through the beer and increase my beer geek knowledge. Thanks guys!

I have already mentioned the events that they are famous for, from their epic birthday celebrations to their Canada Day parties, the Muted Horn guarantees that you’ll be in for a high class beer evening. I have been lucky to try so many good beers from amazing breweries: Equilibrium, Cloudwater, Fieldworks, Cycle, Bellwoods, Cantillon, the famous Bokke and many more. Furthermore, these events also include a culinary surprise, were the Horn has paired up with amazing food trucks and pop-up food stands to go down with their beers. I love the fact that they do this because not only is it good to fight getting drunk fast, but it recognises the variety of different foods out here in Berlin and it gives the chance to people in the food business to expand their market.

The Muted Horn has also been a place where I have met and made new friends and Berlin (it is actually the place where I met my current Mikkeller Beer Club friends with whom I share the monthly box) It’s beer garden is a perfect spot for the craft beer community to interact, drink good beer and have a great time. And I have always seen a big smile on Jenia and Corbin’s face when new friendships have been made at their home.

I can’t forget to mention the other two pillars of the Muted Horn, who make the bar a great place to visit and those are Patric, Kai and Marco. They are also great people to sit at the bar with and have a chat with and love cracking jokes with them when the beers increase.
My love towards the Muted Horn is quite big as you might already noticed, so when one has love for something, it is good to spread that love, therefore I decided to do a little interview with Jenia and Corbin so that you can also get to know them.

1. How did your passion for craft beer begin? 

We had lived in Vancouver, Canada prior to moving to Berlin, and our interest and passion for craft beer really started there. Being on the West Coast and close to the Yakima hop growing district, Vancouver has benefitted from the same creative beer movement that swept the rest of the West Coast in places like California, Oregon and Washington in the US. Craft beer was pretty common in the city even then.
For example, at one point when we were university students, local craft beer was a more delicious/interesting/cheaper option than a lot of the macro beers available in our usual student bars or music venues. That sparked our interest, and we ended up
exploring all the beer venues of Vancouver and then began taking vacations to visit breweries/beer venues in other cities in the following years.   
2. What made you guys come to Berlin? 

We had visited Berlin many years ago and fell in love with the city. It’s diverse, exciting, alive and constantly changing, but not overwhelming or exhaustingly fast-paced to us.

It seems to really allow everyone to be themselves, and it's big enough for all kinds of niche interests and pursuits to come together in one place.
Neukölln specifically is a really interesting and special district to us - it has this
multicultural energy to it, similar to what we know and love at home in Canada.

Vancouver is a complete mix of cultures and people, and we have found a similar kind of feeling here in Neukölln. There is always something going on here, it’s a very dynamic, creative neighbourhood.

3. Can you briefly describe the scene when you first came to Berlin with what is it now. 

We moved to Berlin in April 2014, and at that time there were a handful of brewpubs and bars. I believe Hopfenreich was the first craft beer-focused bar in the city, and they opened a few weeks after we arrived in Berlin. 

Over those first few months, we often went to Vagabund (they’d been open about a year at that point) for guided tastings and other small events. It was actually at one of their tastings that we sat across the table from Georg Fuerst and Lukasz Wiacek and first got to know the guys. We became good friends and spent a lot of evenings chatting about beer and music, going to concerts, and tasting their homebrew over the next couple of years.  We were planning to open a bar, they were planning to start a brewery, it was a pretty exciting time for the four of us! Of course, now we can look back and see that these conversations were the foundation blocks of what was to become MUTED HORN and FUERST WIACEK, and we’re still great friends with the guys today.  I think none of us knew exactly what to expect or we were getting ourselves into with this fledgling segment of the beer industry in Germany, and it was fun to be part of the early days. The craft beer industry has grown leaps and bounds over the last five years, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down! We're excited to see where it goes, and really happy to be part of it.
4. What is the most difficult beer style to sell or promote to the beer drinkers in Germany? 

It used to be that sour beer was the most challenging to introduce to people who’d never tried it before. Now I think it’s probably lesser-known styles with names that don’t give much information on what the flavour will be, like Grodziskie (Grätzer), Old Ale, Gruit, Grisette, Lichtenhainer.

Sometimes we will have a beer on tap that is really unusual in the context of traditional German beer, and people might be experiencing those flavours in the context of beer for the first time.  Especially at the beginning, that unusual beer was typically some kind of barrel-aged, complex, mixed-fermentation sour beer - in the early months, we even had some customers bring their glass of something like Gueuze back to us, saying that there was something wrong with it and that beer shouldn’t taste sour. Of course we happily replaced their drink with something else they would like better, and over the years, this situation happened less and less. We don’t see this kind of reaction much at all anymore. 

In the meantime, we continue to work on showing new styles to people and guide our guests through the 22 beers on tap so we can help them find something that fits their preference in that moment. It’s really fun to introduce someone to a few different styles and see them get excited that all of that is also part of “beer”!
5. Where does the name muted horn come from? Any relation to beer? 

The name comes from one of our favourite books, “The Crying of Lot 49” by the
American author Thomas Pynchon. One of the plot lines in the book revolves around the competition between Thurn-und-Taxis, an old German noble family that owned a private German postal service (which used the posthorn as its symbol) and later also owned some breweries, and the fictional underground postal service “Trystero”, a secret organization which used the muted posthorn as the symbol of its communications network.

At first, we saw the sketch of the muted posthorn in the book and liked the imagery.

Then we realized the phrase “muted posthorn” or “muted horn” has this strong
connection to Germany, to beer and brewing, and that the Posthorn is still used as a symbol of communication and bringing people together across several countries in Europe (a version of the posthorn is still part of the Deutsche Post logo, for example).

We had this idea for the name even before we found our physical location, so when we discovered the space that would become MUTED HORN and found out the address is Flughafenstrasse 49, the connection to the book’s title was too perfect, and we made the final decision that this was going to be the name of our bar.
6. The Muted Horn has an amazing tap and bottle list, but many see you as a bar specialised in sours, lambics and saisons. Is this a personal taste choice or more a thing of exclusivity? 

Thank you for your kind words! We do really love sours, lambics and saisons quite a lot, and being much closer to Belgium now than we were in Vancouver, we definitely indulge that passion, especially on the bottle list. It helps that these types of beers can be cellared for some time, so we can stock up and hang on to the bottles for those customers interested in such beers!

In terms of the taplist, our approach to selecting the 22 rotating beers focuses on
offering a wide range of styles - not just the most popular types of beer (at this moment, lagers and hazy IPAs) but a full selection, including classic German styles like lagers, Hefeweizens, sours, lambics, saisons, Belgian styles, pale ales, IPAs, DIPAs, porters, stouts and usually also cider and mead.
We really want to cover the full spectrum, bringing beers that are different and
interesting and new to our customers, so they can maybe discover something new to love.

It’s also our small way of supporting breweries who do innovative and interesting things with beer, giving them some support to be creative and experimental. 
7. The bar has received tremendous praise, recognition and awards, being voted best craft beer bar in Germany, how does this make you guys feel? 

It’s an honour to be included in these lists, and we’re really happy that our customers have had a positive experience and that people like what we’re doing. Some of the best brewers in the world have shown a lot of faith in our project and trusted us to pour their beers in Berlin, and we want to continue to represent them well here. 
8. What is your take on the haze craze will this be always a thing or will we see a dawn of hazy beers?

I think that the hazy IPA will always have some kind of presence. It’s easy-drinking, fruity and soft, and when we give a taste of hazy IPAs to first-time customers, they typically like it and order one. There’s a kind of accessibility to it, it’s fun. 
That being said, it would be great to see a variety of different styles of IPAs being
brewed - we’re from the West Coast of North America, so the old-school West Coast IPA will always have a place in our hearts! 
9. The muted horn just turned 3 years old, how do you see the evolution of the bar from its first year?

Our first priority is always to try our best to improve the quality of the beer we serve.

Whether it’s working directly with breweries to import their beer ourselves (to minimize transit time and ensure freshness), making sure our storage and serving methods are as good as they can be, or maintaining and forging new relationships with breweries we love and respect, a big focus is on the product. 
We are always working hard to build a positive experience for our customers. Part of that is the quality of the beer, but we also think a lot about improving the events we run, as well as how well the physical space itself is working. The bar is continuously evolving to meet these goals, and we’re looking forward to the years ahead!

So there you have it, I don’t think there is much more I can say about these amazing bar and the people behind it. If you are ever in Berlin, lookout for a purple neon sign that glows with the name of the bar and step in for some quality beers!