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Krones’ own Homebrewer – Jörg Wekenborg

Bitter. It was unbelievably bitter. Jörg Wekenborg’s first homebrew was almost undrinkable. He now knows, “Boiling the hops on the gas stove in my kitchen was not a good idea”. The smallest burner was a bit finicky. “It was more like some sort of cola – brown, with a lot of carbonation.” Though this first failure definitely took some of the wind out of his sails, it also fanned the flames of his ambitions as a hobby homebrewer. “I went right out and bought myself a better gas burner so that wouldn’t happen again. With it, I could keep the heat constant.” Wekenborg hasn’t had to throw out a single batch since. In fact, his second brew, a wheat beer, turned out really well.

 

Jörg Wekenborg, an energy electronics engineer, has been with Krones for ten years now. He spent nine of those years in the USA. “I really enjoyed being in Neutraubling, living right in the middle of Regensburg’s old city. But my wanderlust was stronger”, says the native of northern Germany. His path with Krones, through Regensburg to the USA, turned out to be a beer discovery tour. “I had lived in Bavaria for seven years in all and was completely spoiled by the variety of Bavarian beers. In northern Germany, I had only ever known pilsner.” Shortly after arriving in the USA, Wekenborg realized that he missed Bavarian beer. “Somehow, I couldn’t find anything to fill that void properly. So, I started brewing my own beer. When I moved into a house with a back deck and the homebrewing scene in America started to really take off, I started pouring my heart and soul into homebrewing.”

Wekenborg picked up tips from several different forums and YouTube – and of course, from his various jobs on-site at breweries as a Krones technician. Wekenborg’s production volumes aren’t quite ready for Krones equipment yet. “I started out small, with a 20 litre pot. And now I’m already up to a 40 litre tank.” Otherwise, his investments in this hobby have been pretty minimal: books, hop pellets, a hydrometer, a refractometer, fermentation tanks, and such haven’t cost him much over the years. “There are definitely more expensive hobbies. Besides, every city in the States has dedicated shops for homebrewers.”

He knows he’s doing more and more things right because his friends no longer offer up a forced smile when he offers them one of his homebrews. “Now, my friends ask me about my latest brews. That’s great because homebrewing has long since become something I can do to just relax.”

When Jörg Wekenborg first started homebrewing, he used extract kits. But he has since switched over to doing the whole process himself – no shortcuts. And he always follows Germany’s beer purity law, which limits the ingredients you can use. “Once, I thought about making a Christmas wheat beer with cloves and orange peels. But so far I’ve just stuck to the classics.”

He has already tried cold-hopping, though. “I brewed an IPA for my family for Christmas.” And he wants to keep experimenting: “I’ve been thinking about buying some old whiskey barrels to make bourbon-aged beer.” Once it’s matured, Wekenborg fills his beer into 5-litre party kegs and swing-top bottles and takes them along to his second favourite pastime: barbeques.

Now that his homebrewing is going so well, he’s set his sights on winning prizes with it. “Of course, it would be interesting to take my beer to a competition. And of course, I want to win! Yeah, and then – then, I also want to brew a stout. Otherwise, I’m pretty satisfied.”

 

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