Loreley’s Doug Darwin Talks German Beer, Oktoberfest and Why He No Longer Enjoys Shotgunning Cheap Domestic Suds


OK, so maybe we’re feeling a little beery these days, what with Craft Beer Week on its way. That, and a new beer garden opening, like, every other week. We caught up with Doug Darwin, from Loreley, the new-wave German beer hall that started it all. Darwin has been with Loreley since 2004, just a year after it opened on the Lower East Side. He can be found pulling steins both on Rivington Street and at the Williamsburg location.

German beer gardens are all the rage these days. Why do you think that is?

I think the beer garden thing is popular for a couple of reasons. One, no matter if they’re doing German or Austrian or Czech or whatever beer-gardeny type of beer, it’s probably darn good brew. I prefer the German stuff, but all those folks seem to make tasty suds. Two, the social aspect is appealing — communal tables, outdoor seating, and a relaxed, festive atmosphere are welcome respites from the hectic urban jungle we call home.

Had you anticipated this when you started working at Loreley?

I’m not sure if I fully anticipated the boom when I started working at Loreley, but it seemed like it would work: Beer, pretzels, outdoor seating — what’s not to like?

Do you consider yourself a beer geek?

No, but the great selection of German beers at Loreley have definitely refined my palate. Shotgunning cheap domestic stuff just ain’t the same.

When did you get into beer?

Ummm. … Is this the Sam Shepard play? I don’t know exactly. I do recall seeing a video of the original True West and thinking how alluring it could all be.

What are some of the most interesting beers styles coming out of Germany these days?

There is a growing variety of organic beers. We have one for the Oktoberfest season, Schneider Wiesen Edel-Weisse. Also, the Erdinger Weissbier Kristallklar, the crystal wheat beer we have in bottles. Not organic, but it’s just delicious.

What locals beers to you like?

Brooklyn Brewery isn’t bad. Not sure if Pennsylvania counts as local, but I’ve enjoyed a Victory Pilsner on occasion.

Do you think the biergarten trend is in danger of being overdone?

I don’t know if it could be in danger, as a way of drinking, eating, and hanging out. But they usually require a sufficient amount of space, which could prove to be costly.

Is Loreley doing anything for Craft Beer Week?

Loreley Williamsburg has a big bash to kick off Oktoberfest on Saturday, September 17. Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz will be tapping a keg of Oktoberfest beer at 3 p.m. We’ll have suckling pig and sausages, as well as free beer from the keg. On the last night of Oktoberfest, October 2, we’ll have another free keg. On Saturdays, we’ve just launched Bier Disco, with two DJs spinning in the beer garden starting at 4 p.m. And we also have a beer tasting dinner on September 27 with beer expert, Rudi Eilers.

Wow. You guys sound busy. What do you drink when you go home? More beer, or do you take a break from it all?

I do enjoy the occasional beer, especially any German ones I can find at the local deli. A nice small-batch bourbon ain’t too bad either.