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Once a brewer, always a brewer: “Once learned, never forgotten”

What do a pharmacist, a machinist, a dental assistant, three engineers and a marketing expert have in common? What may initially look like the first line of a joke is actually a question about their shared passion. But how did these seven guys with such different professions originally meet up, and what exactly is this passion they share?

Once upon a time they were all altar boys together. Then each of them went their own professional way – and yet the guys have two things in common: their friendship and their shared love of beer. And they don’t only like drinking the liquid gold – they actually brew it as well. Admittedly: some of them are more interested in sampling the brew than in the brewing process itself. But whatever their motivation, the seven friends from Rottenburg in Lower Bavaria have been brewing their own beer in a garage since 1998.

So what do Garagenbräu and Krones have in common?

The brewer: Florian Schneider

The seven friends took up beer-brewing thanks to Florian Schneider – and he in his turn became a brewer more or less by accident: during his community service in Munich, he got to know a group of brewery apprentices, which was what first brought him into contact with this profession. “Because after leaving school I didn’t have much of an idea what I wanted to do, so took their choice on board I and decided to train as a brewer.” Following three years with the Hohenthanner Schlossbrauerei, he “took to the road”, so as to familiarise himself with as many machines and brewing techniques as possible. “After so many years in Wellington boots, I then wanted to try something new. You know, being a brewer is not as romantic as you may perhaps imagine. Long working hours, lifting heavy barrels, it’s always wet – sometimes it’s back-breaking work.” Nowadays, he works for Krones as an Area Manager in the sales team for East Asia. But he’s retained his passion for the brewing craft, and so together with his friends Florian has set up his own small brewery: Garagenbräu.


The right remit for each of them …

Bit by bit, the team grew larger: so does the electrician look after the cables, etc., does the machinist repair leaks in the brew-kettle, and is the pharmacist responsible for chemical processes and recipes? “More or less,” laughs Florian Schneider. “Over the course of time, each of us has carved out his own remit – one of us as a beer sommelier.” Talking of sommeliers: at Garagenbräu, the beers are brewed strictly in line with the German Purity Law. The most popular variety is the good old wheat beer. You might almost say it’s the “best-seller” – if it weren’t for the fact that the hand-crafted beers have only ever been shared with friends and relatives.

… and the right beer

This year, the hobby brewers have ventured to create their first lager beer. “Lager is by a long way the most difficult type, and demands a lot of craft skills. In the case of many craft beer specialties, for example, mistakes in the brewing process can be ironed out by adding more hops, but with lager neither hop nor malt flavours can be allowed to dominate. You have to know what you’re doing.” But as the saying goes: once learned, never forgotten. Despite the German Purity Law, Garagenbräu is also quite receptive to the craft beer trend. Besides IPAs and pale ales, sometimes the remainder of the brew is used to experiment with raspberries, coffee and roasting aromas, thus creating a raspberry-flavoured wheat beer (so popular with the ladies) or a smoky Coffee Stout.

P.S.: The beer is not allowed to be sold yet, which of course is just fine with all the brewers’ friends: at birthdays, barbecues or male-bonding get-togethers, there’s never any question about who’s going to be supplying the beer. In view of the huge demand, though, not least via Facebook, Florian Schneider is determined to register Garagenbräu as a small company: “It doesn’t mean we’ll be brewing more beer – but it does mean we’ll then be allowed to sell a crate or two.”

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