1. American Craft Beer Fest returns to Boston on May 29 & 30, featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers. Tickets are on sale now.

German craft beer

Discussion in 'Germany' started by einhorn, Dec 20, 2012.

  1. boddhitree

    boddhitree Advocate (630) Germany Apr 13, 2008

    You're right on this front; however, this business is in this modern world long-term a loser financially, and by extension, culturally. The old tiny breweries don't make financial sense any more, what with competition from conglomerates they previously didn't have at the local Aldi/Rewe/etc. Also, the changed EU laws concerning inheritance and modernizing has doomed and will doom even more. Third, there market is demographically drastically shrinking with changing tastes of youth and the death of their remaining, aging customers.

    So, what to do?
    • First, they can try to break out of their little Kaff, either via marketing or different distribution outlets, á la the internet.
    • 2nd, they can develop other strategies like working with local farmers to assure quality.
    • 3rd, focus on lowering costs/modernizing where possible without losing quality.
    • 4th, they can develop their beer repertoire to play to their strengths and branch out into other styles that will command a higher profit margin.
    So, is this possible? Hell, yes, and I give 3 examples (mainly because I know them and don't know others, but here is where the BA community can play their role). Each has had a different approach, yet still used all 4 above methods.
    1. Schneider Weisse - I think we all know their philosophy and notice they are a great success. They're probably the best known of these due to their marketing abroad and collaborative work with Brooklyn Brewery.
    2. Brauhaus Faust - From Miltenberg. I know them only because I have visited their brewery, I live relatively nearby, and have come to know their line-up as well as philosphy. It's family owned and a traditional brewery. Nonetheless, they do all 4 of the above. Here is a list of their line-up, and notice:
    • Faust Auswanderer Bier 1849 (Imp.IPA) - at 13,90 €/bottle. Now, will Germans pay this price? I'm not sure they will, yet, but look at the American craft beer consumer today vs. 20 years ago, and this is the business model that will be neccessary for niche brewers to occupy to compete with the Fernsehbiere. Besides, this is one wonderful beer, akin in taste to 3 Floyds Alpha King.
    • Faust Holzfassgelagerter Eisbock - 16,90 €/bottle. I've sampled this on the brewery tour I took. Wonderfully aged in Wild Turkey wooden barrels, simply delicous.
    • Faust Jahrgangsbock - 9,90 €/bottle. If you haven't already, please read my review on this beer here.
    • Faust Brauerreserve 1237 - 19,90 €/bottle. Haven't had it, but I can only imagine how good it is based on the others I've had from Faust.
    • Faust Schwarzviertler - Haven't had it, but it was featured in a 4 page article in BYO this month.
    • Plus they have invested in modern equipment to become not only environmentally friendly but also to save costs, as well as staying with some traditional stuff. They also focus on sourcing and locally. All these factors are a major part of their marketing.
    3. Pax Bräu. Ok, you can read about my love for this new brewery, but the owner is doing everything I​
    mentioned above in being innovative while also maintaining the roots in Oberfranken tradition. For my other​
    examples where I show my love for this one-man show, check out here and here.​

    These are the examples of the new Craft brewers in Germany and where success will lie if they're willing to risk it. However, many older, family run enterprises won't have the wherewithal or ambition, and probably the prognosis for them isn't too rosy.

    I'm not saying that some small places will survive or that a small-scale, brewery/inn/restaurant model/approach will not work; in fact, I think they will, but that will not be a good business model for all small town brewers.
    einhorn likes this.
  2. LBerges

    LBerges Aficionado (190) Germany Feb 14, 2010

    Careful. You have the easy answers? Is Krombacher a craft brewery? Is Oettinger?
    They are, acc. to the American definition.
    Let's put the question the other way round, to make it difficult:
    What is Germany's biggest craft brewery?
  3. Trying to force European beer into the craft/non-craft schema is futile and perverse.
    cu29 likes this.
  4. Stahlsturm

    Stahlsturm Savant (420) Germany Mar 21, 2005

    They are ? Then you should probably rethink your definitions because they are the Budweiser / Miller / Coors of Germany.

    Unlike you I do not concern myself with size, I concern myself with quality. Well, unless it's as a deterrent anyways but there's a clear dividing line. Breweries who advertise on national TV are to be avoided. That rules out all the Krombachers, Radebergers, Bitburgers, Warsteiners etc. According to this I think Augustiner would probably be the biggest brewery I willingly drink, at least in Bavaria.
  5. boddhitree

    boddhitree Advocate (630) Germany Apr 13, 2008

    Not true, Not true at all. Here is an article that tries to define the idea of what Craft Beer is for a German market, and why it's important.

    I'd been meaning to post this article since this fall, but never got around to it. So, I spent my entire Sunday (it's been snowing, sleeting, and raining and gray all day) afternoon trying to figure out how to scan and filter thru an OCR German text, which I ran thru Google translate (that is a catastrophe!) and then re-translated every word by hand anyway. It's from Bier und Brauhaus, edition 15, Fall 2012, page 32 & 33. Unfortunately, they offer no online version of this text, so what I will post is both the German and English translations.​

    My translation. I hope I didn't butcher it. I wanted to post the original German, but it wouldn't fit into 1 post.
    einhorn and PancakeMcWaffles like this.
  6. Bier & Brauhaus is so damn right!
    That's one of the most interesting points in my opinion.. It would be interesting to talk to some of the headbrewers of the "big german brewing companies" and ask them how they feel about their beer!
    Cheers for translating all that!
  7. You don't think the publisher's involvement in a venture called the "1st Craft Beer Store" makes them a little bit biased?
    LBerges and herrburgess like this.
  8. einhorn

    einhorn Savant (405) California Nov 3, 2005

    Biased or not, we should all be happy that the Germans are recognizing the fact that status quo (for 95% of the breweries) is not sustainable and that something has to give. Until now, overcapacity combined with shrinking beer consumption has been a recipe for disaster for all involved. IMO this is the best possible way out of the Klemme and the translated article is spot on for me.
  9. foles

    foles Savant (430) Australia Jan 28, 2007

    I think any upcoming innovation there will be different to what everyone is expecting, and won't just involve massive amounts of hops, or 50 taps in a bar. The new breed of German brewers will be too clever just to copy what others are doing. And obviously there is no need to abandon the majority of what is already done there, ESPECIALLY the local aspect, freshness, impeccable quality control. Maybe some process based innovation (high tech/redicovered traditions/blend of both) may lead to wonderful new beer experiences. I for one love only being able to select from 2-4 beers that are all damn good and perfectly served- which is often the experience in Germany. And German beer is far from boring, it is awesome.
    WhatANicePub likes this.
  10. LBerges

    LBerges Aficionado (190) Germany Feb 14, 2010

    TV is not a criteria. Oettinger is not on TV, like Augustiner.
    Is Augustiner a craft brewery? IMHO they are not.
  11. Stahlsturm

    Stahlsturm Savant (420) Germany Mar 21, 2005

    Look, my previous comments may have come out way more venomous than intended. I'm Bavarian and I don't think in terms of "Craft", I'm not even sure what the heck you exactly mean by it.

    I divide between breweries where you still know where the beer comes from (which are usually small, or mid-sized like Bischhofshof and Augustiner) and those gigantic, conglomerate owned things that you can basically buy in every supermarket between Füssen and Flensburg. Breweries (and this has nothing to do with individually beer quality) that don't have a home anymore, stuff that's so watered down it could come from anywhere. There's a slogan, "Bier braucht Heimat" which roughly translates to beer needs a home, an identifiable place of origin. There are those where you can tell (which is the ones I'll drink) and those who have lost that important (to me anyways) marker, which are also the ones I'd avoid.
    I'm not on a crusade here so please, do keep drinking your Radebergers and your Öttingers if you like those beers, just don't try to pass them off as anything else then the soulless product of industry.
    foles, JackHorzempa, einhorn and 2 others like this.
  12. foles

    foles Savant (430) Australia Jan 28, 2007

    This quote is pure awesome, and so very important.
  13. LBerges

    LBerges Aficionado (190) Germany Feb 14, 2010

    Good point. And is definitely not the 1st craftbeershop (in Germany). May # 10 or #12.
  14. LBerges

    LBerges Aficionado (190) Germany Feb 14, 2010

    "Bier braucht Heimat", da kann ich Dir 100 pro zustimmen.
  15. boddhitree

    boddhitree Advocate (630) Germany Apr 13, 2008

    "Still secret! Schneider Weisse TapX-13"

    From the Bier Täglich website (this is my general paraphrasing and translation): On March 8 at Braukunst Live in München, there will be a press conference about a new beer released from Schneider Weisse. Already in 2012, Schneider Weisse got a lot of praise for their TAPX Mein Nelson Sauvin, which was quickly sold out. The new special brew comes with a new type of hops from Hallertau region, which has never been used in a beer before. "(BIER täglich vermutet [guesses]: Mandarina Bavaria)."

    Here's the pic that accompanied the post:
    einhorn likes this.
  16. boddhitree

    boddhitree Advocate (630) Germany Apr 13, 2008

    Also from Bier Täglich, news about Brauerei Faust's 10% increase in production in 2012. Bottle production increased 8% and Kegs 16%. Much of that is due to an increase of their Export (25%) and dunkele Doppelbock (44%). In addition, they report that their Bierraritäten [rare beers] are gaining importance, from their Eisbock to the Auswanderer Bier [DIPA], the production of which all have tripled.

    What's interesting is one of the comments, which states, "after we cut through the marketing speak: Faust obviously makes a good beer, without which nothing is possible. But this is no guarrantee of increasing sales, see Rothaus, which in 2011 lost sales, volume and profit."
    He continues: "their success has many other reasons:
    1. In the surrounding county, the last competitor closed in 2010.
    2. Miltenberg lies somewhat in the middle of nowhere. Transportation of "foreign beer" tends to be more expensive, giving Faust a clear advantage.
    3. Faust is not sold in supermarkets under 10€ [he doesn't say which product he's referring to], which is no dumb decision.
    4. Their northern competition, Schlappeseppel from Aschaffenburg has an image problem. [it seems to be a complicated problem, where they decided to sell Faust beer in the old Schlappeseppel restaurant.]
    5. They're going after other regional competition head to head, as the example in Frammersbach shows.
    6. It's always good to be able to expand in the Frankfurt direction, where people drink Ebbelwoi (Apfelwein) because of the terrible beer."
    Interesting perspectives. I think the commenter is right in that Faust is using it's natural regional advantage proactively to market and position itself well. It's also good they aren't attempting to win customers solely on price. And the fact they're pushing their specialty beers is also a good sign not only for us consumers starved for variety but also to meet a new demand of the craft beer market. It's also good to see their strategy of focusing on local while producing rare speciality beers is successful financially.
    JackHorzempa and einhorn like this.

  17. Tony,

    Thanks for that post about Faust Brewery! The information that you presented was an interesting read.



    P.S. Your post reminded me of a visit I made to the Faust Hotel/Brewpub in New Braunfels, TX. I went in there just to see the place but I didn’t have any of the beers; it was morning and I wasn’t in the ‘mood’ to drink beer then.
  18. steveh

    steveh Champion (775) Illinois Oct 8, 2003

    Raritäten boomen

    Love that. ;)
    herrburgess likes this.
  19. steveh

    steveh Champion (775) Illinois Oct 8, 2003

  20. Stahlsturm

    Stahlsturm Savant (420) Germany Mar 21, 2005

    You weren't "in the mood" ?!?!

    Be careful or they may just take away your tankard... :p :D
    JackHorzempa likes this.
  21. boddhitree

    boddhitree Advocate (630) Germany Apr 13, 2008

    These guys drink lots of beers from Franken and post almost weekly. I'm "friends" with them and love to read all their reports, some of which correspond to what I've posted. I suggest you "Like" them and follow them on FB.

    Notice they're also fans of Pax Bräu.

  22. I contemplated editing out the part of morning and not being in the mood to drink since I suspected that somebody might comment on it. I should have known that the German standup comedian would have been that somebody.;)

  23. einhorn

    einhorn Savant (405) California Nov 3, 2005

    boddhitree likes this.
  24. mjtierney2

    mjtierney2 Advocate (515) Germany Jul 31, 2011

  25. boddhitree

    boddhitree Advocate (630) Germany Apr 13, 2008

    See folks, it's beginning, whether you want it or not. On FB, a post from "Bier aus Franken."
    JackHorzempa and einhorn like this.
  26. Brewed by two female brewers from the family that owns the brewery. I'd drink it (but I am willing to bet it has already been deemed "Frauenbier" in more ways that one).
  27. boddhitree

    boddhitree Advocate (630) Germany Apr 13, 2008

    This Frauenbier worth drinking!
  28. “I'd drink it”

    Of course you would. Would you drink it while playing croquet!?!;)

  29. Yep. I am more than secure enough in my masculinity to drink it while playing croquet...as soon as you're ready to catch up with your wife when it comes to drinking a "man's beer," Rauchbier ;).
  30. Hey, I am working on it. I am drinking half & half (Rauchbier and Dry Stout) beers.

    Drinking “smoke” is an acquired taste.;)

  31. I'd hit that! ;-)
    PancakeMcWaffles and Stahlsturm like this.
  32. einhorn

    einhorn Savant (405) California Nov 3, 2005

    Like clockwork...

    "After Radeberger's Braufactum, the Bitburger Brewery Group, a second large German brewer, enters into the potentially lucrative but slow-developing business with craft beers. For this, the experimental and the specialty (pilot) brewery at Bitburger was renamed "Craftwerk Brewing". The first products - which are not sold in stores but only via the web via GFGH - are a single hop pale ale, a Belgian Style Tripel and an American India Pale Ale. These are being brewed by master brewer Stefan Hanke and his team. Cost: 2.10 to 2.40 euro per 0.33 liter plus deposit and shipping."

    With any level of success, everyone and their mother with get on board.
    boddhitree and JackHorzempa like this.
  33. Thank you for your continuing reports. It would appear that we are on the cusp of exciting times in Germany. I would venture to say that “single hop pale ale, a Belgian Style Tripel and an American India Pale Ale” is representative of a revolution (vs. a renaissance); but we need to await to see how this all plays out.

    einhorn likes this.
  34. Radeberger and now Bitburger – Innovation driven by the biggest brewery corporations in the country. The fact that this is the complete opposite of the American “craft beer” ideology does not bother anyone?
    PancakeMcWaffles likes this.
  35. Because, regardless of their provenance, IPAs are "exciting" and traditional "lagers" are boring?
  36. danfue

    danfue Aficionado (245) Germany Sep 16, 2012

    It does. Although you cannot expect a complete revolution as in the US here, things are too different.
    I reckon it's their strategy to be in control of a possibly emerging branch of the business. If any new brewery is getting too big, they will be bought and integrated in their own side brand "Braufactum", "Craftwerk Brewing", etc.
    What I like about Braufactum though is that they have a collection of international beers available that you won't get anywhere else (except ordering it online).
    boddhitree likes this.
  37. mjtierney2

    mjtierney2 Advocate (515) Germany Jul 31, 2011

    Well I wouldn't say it's "bothering" me but I don't think I'll be buying any. What's more, there are already a few examples of American-style IPA's and even at least one Single Hop Citra beer (Hopfenstopper) on the market.
    Chaz likes this.
  38. einhorn

    einhorn Savant (405) California Nov 3, 2005

    Considering that there is already a lot of "craft beer" in Germany coming predominantly from the smaller Bavarian breweries, you have a certain point. Unfortunately, the "little guy" will NEVER make a splash in the market place due to numerous restricting factors. Even if customers demand Beer X, the tied houses (95% of gastronomy) will never serve them. Period. And without a shitload of money, they will never get into the regional retail chains and Getraenkeshops.

    So, as stated in previous posts, the me-too mentality is king in Germany. A few examples: ice beer. In the 90's one company has success with Ice beer, and then EVERYONE had one. Some time thereafter Henninger had the first pre-mixed Radler and within a year, all major breweries followed suit.

    The big guys (remember that no one brand has more than 8% market share) will be the ones to forage ahead, with success the rest will follow. The danger is that there could be a lot of really bad IPAs on the market in a very short time.
    boddhitree likes this.
  39. Stahlsturm

    Stahlsturm Savant (420) Germany Mar 21, 2005

    What "innovation" are you talking about ? The Americanisation of Germany continues. If that's innovation them please drown me in a keg of Plank Festbier...
    steveh likes this.