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From the lecture hall to the brew-kettle

“Rebellion against boring beers” – this is the provocative message that Philip Vogel and Leonidas Lazaridis use to advertise their Eulchen (“Owlet”) beer. Originally just the subject of their dissertation, Eulchen is nowadays gaining plenty of fans among beer-drinkers in and around Mainz.

A city without a brewery of its own? Unthinkable! A view shared by Philip and Leonidas, two communication design students from Mainz. “Mainz’s beer tradition used to be incredibly voluminous, but all its breweries were either bought up or had to close down because of competition from large breweries. When in 2013 we were pondering a subject for our dissertation, we decided that the lost beer culture of Mainz needs to be resuscitated,“ explains Leonidas. No sooner said than done! And because the thesis covers a holistic concept, one thing was absolutely indispensable: a beer of their own.

The first variety was quickly decided on: “A Märzen beer is not too hoppy and not too malty, but a nice full-bodied beer, one that shows people who have been used to nothing except industrially produced beers that beer can also taste different,” comments Leonidas. In a small pub brewery, the two of them then embarked on their very first brew, aided by the brewmaster there.

A 100-per-cent manual process

But the actual brewing was only half the battle – since a holistic concept also necessarily includes a sophisticated marketing strategy. Right at the top of the agenda: the perfect brandname. “Animals used to be popular name-givers for breweries. We chose the proud owl for both our name and our heraldic symbol. A nocturnal animal that is absolutely apposite for our upmarket beer, which is also intended for consuming in the night-time,” explains Philip. The choice of an owlet instead of a fully-grown owl is due to the 0.33-litre bottles in which the two of them fill their beer. For their dissertation, Philip and Leonidas replaced the rubber seals on 2,000 swing-stopper bottles, affixed self-designed labels, and filled the bottles – all of it laboriously by hand.

For selling their Eulchen, Philip and Leonidas opened a pop-up store in the middle of Mainz for a week. “Needless to say, we were hoping our guests would notice that our beer tastes different. But we never dreamed that the response would be so enthusiastic and encouraging,” relates a gratified Philip.

 Lateral entry into the beer business

Theoretically, the “Rebellion against boring beers” would have been over once the dissertation had been submitted, but the demand for Eulchen remained high: “The positive feedback, plus of course all the fun we got from brewing, impelled us to venture a lateral entry into the beer business,” says Leonidas. But the two of them immediately realised: in future, they were going to have to approach things more professionally. So they agreed a rental arrangement with a brewery they knew, where they have ever since been brewing and bottling their Eulchen beers.

For selling their beers, too, the two friends, drawing on their fondness for history, have come up with something rather special: in the centre of Mainz is the city’s last surviving “water house”, a kind of kiosk, which used to serve only pure drinking water. Nowadays, patrons can enjoy the Eulchen beers there – and after work, particularly, what’s called the “Trinkhalle” is a popular meeting point for Mainz’s beer fans. In summer, moreover, the two of them also run the Eulchen Palace Beer Garden at the Prince Elector’s Palace in Mainz.

First brewery with a MicroCube

Meanwhile, the Eulchen beers are steadily gaining new fans outside Mainz as well. Restaurants and bars in Wiesbaden, Darmstadt and Frankfurt am Main are now also selling the small bottles with the owl on the label. The steadily rising demand encouraged the two friends to hatch a new plan: to open a brewery of their own. “We realised that to begin with it’s obviously more practical to do your brewing somewhere else, but in the long run the logistics start to get difficult,” explains Philip. “What’s more, it had been our goal right from the start to give Mainz a brewery of its own again.” And not just anywhere – the Eulchen Brewery will be located right in the middle of the city, in the historic Kupferberg district.

In their search for a suitable brewhouse, the youthful entrepreneurs came across Krones. “Sure, they’re one of the big manufacturers. So the first thing you ask yourself is whether they have anything at all that’s small enough for us,” says Leonidas. “But then we discovered the MicroCube.” With the 10-hectolitre brewhouse, Eulchen is now able to meet the high level of demand and at the same time try out new varieties or special brews. “Our goal, of course, is to run the MicroCube at its maximum capacity,” says Philip with a wink. This maximum lies at around 8,000 hectolitres a year – ambitious plans, for which Eulchen is optimally equipped, not least in terms of its brewhouse.

Photographs: Eulchen Bier

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