Having opening its doors last October, Hops is Cambodia’s first “biergarten” using imported hops to brew German-style beer. Over a glass of Hops-brewed refreshment and a plate of traditional German currywurst, the beer garden’s founder and owner Tassilo Brinzer told me about his views on the significance of German Unity day, and Brinzer’s self-appointed role introducing German culture to Cambodia.
Hops sits like a Tardis on Street 228 behind Independence Monument. Stepping inside, the interior seems impossibly large. In homage to traditional German biergartens (beer gardens), the venue’s layout was designed to foster friendship and community. Its outdoor space is enclosed on three sides by glass walls. There’s a pool table, an indoor area that hosts live music, and to the left is the brewing room itself, where you can see the vats of fermenting beer.
Brinzer said that the secret to their authentic German brews is an authentic German brewer. “Our brew master is German. He did an apprenticeship for three years in brewing and he studied brewing at the oldest brewery in Germany, which is almost 1,000 years old now. It’s a real science and a craft. He also then became a beer sommelier, so he has seven, eight years of training on his back. He’s very very experienced, he has a wide range of beers in his portfolio that he can brew at any time.”
When asked what inspired Brinzer to open Hop’s Brewery, he described his initial vision to create a place where people from all corners of the globe could meet and make memories. “I’m German, I’ve lived here 17 years, and I’ve always thought that Phnom Penh could benefit from and enjoy a German-style beer garden, a place where you have good German food and good German beer in a very relaxed atmosphere. More importantly, it’s a place where all nationalities can come together. Alcohol has always been a good driver of friendship.”
As the conversation shifted from Brinzer’s ideas for the future (German beer lovers will be ecstatic to hear he’s going to expand), he reflected on the true meaning of German Unity Day.
“For me, Germany Unity Day is a day to remember when European division was rectified. I grew up in the Cold War. So during my time there were many different nationalities of troops in Germany. There were also Pershing missiles stationed there with atomic warheads. So all of this kind of disappeared with German unity and Germany has continued to enjoy peace ever since. Travelling to East Germany for the first time, people were very friendly, very happy to be unified. It was the start of a very peaceful time in Europe. That is what it means to me personally.”