Vadim Kamkalov is the founder and owner of Protokoll Taproom, an international (and Russian) craft beer bar in Friedrichshain. We talked to the craft beer enthusiast about Russian craft beer, his journey to Berlin and why Vladimir Nabokov’s late father left him with an extraordinary feeling about being Russian in Berlin.
Where did you grow up?
I was born and raised in Daugavpils at the Western border of the USSR. Back then, it was one of the industrial and military outposts of the Soviet Empire.
What is the strongest memory you have of your hometown?
My strongest memory of my hometown is growing up close to nature in the outskirts of the city. Strong season changes defined our lifestyle, daily routines, and habits. It’s an important mental exercise to be able to adapt quickly to the changing environment, and this has helped me a lot throughout my life.
When did you arrive in Berlin?
In 2005, I started studying in Potsdam, and the city served as my cultural link to Berlin for the next five years. After that, I spent quite some time following the David Bowie-inspired principle of Station-to-Station, living in cities such as San Francisco, Moscow, London, Hamburg, and Frankfurt. Two years ago, I came back to Berlin for good, but this time with a mission: to establish a Russian-style craft beer institution in the German capital.
Why did you open a craft beer bar?
After leaving my career in FinTech, I knew it was going to be impossible for me to do anything besides be an entrepreneur. My old friends and partners from Zagovor Brewery in Moscow inspired me and gave me the idea to start a brewery that would focus on high-quality Russian and international craft beer.
Today I am quite proud to say that Protokoll Taproom is one of the best beer bars in Germany. We offer a high-quality product and excellent customer service. We care about our customers and we are ready to explore new flavors and tastes.
Why are you so passionate about craft beer?
Craft beer stands for a new appreciation level of a product, which is non-industrial, quality-oriented and ideally, local. The craft beer industry also fosters small business, entrepreneurship, and people creating new companies, hiring people who share their passion, and building up this new community and new market.
What makes Berlin special?
Berlin is a space where a lot of universes live in parallel and they are very often completely unaware of each other. It gives a city a unique vibe. At the same time, it’s not a supermarket-city where you can just go shopping for fun – you need to have interests, passions, initiative, the right attitude and mindset. What you can achieve depends solely on you.
What is your favorite place in Berlin?
Berlin is full of special places and I keep discovering new ones all the time, so I can’t pick just one. Although, one time when I visited Vladimir Nabokov Senior’s grave [father of Vladimir Nabokov, writer of the novel “Lolita”], I had an extraordinary feeling of belonging to this endless historical cycle, one that keeps bringing more Russians to Berlin year after year.
To find out more about Vadim Kamkalov and Protokoll Taproom in Friedrichshain, visit their website www.protokoll.berlin. In addition to that you can follow Protokoll Taproom on Facebook and/or Instagram.