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Swedish wind at St. ERHARD

After obtaining a degree in business administration, Christian Klemenz launched his own craft beer brand, called St. ERHARD, in 2011. Our loyal fans may perhaps remember our report in 2016. Quite a lot has happened since then. Currently, Christian is on everyone’s lips again with his St. ERHARD, thanks to his new design. Reason enough for us to have another chat with him and find out what’s behind it …

Why did you opt for a new design?

We began with St. ERHARD Original in the printed transparent-glass bottle and nothing has changed about that– it’s stayed exactly the same. The unusual bottle design attracted a lot of attention – and not least the German Design Award as well.

But now when we wanted to expand the product line, we came up against the natural limits of the glass printing we’d been using. In order to expand the range, we had to change over to paper labels. The challenge now was to transfer our stringent design standards to the additional beers.

How did your collaboration with the Swedish design studio Bedow come about?

A few years ago, I met Perniclas Bedow at a beverage congress, where he gave a presentation on his design concept for Mikkeller (a well-known Danish craft beer brand). We got on well right from the start and had similar ideas about design. I immediately thought: I think we could be onto something here! A year ago, I asked him if he could imagine handling the new design for St. ERHARD.

What’s the concept behind the new design?

We were keen to retain the existing highly minimalistic design. So a Swedish designer was an appropriate choice, of course. Another advantage he had was that that he could approach f the product and Germany as an outsider. So for him the basic question was this: what are the salient features of Germany and a German product? The result was a concept based on three basic guidelines: precision, simplicity, reduction. In addition, he was influenced by the Bauhaus style, not least in terms of the colour scheme. The result was a black-and-white paper label with a range of colour emphases and a geometrical shape.

Why are only the specialty beers in the new design?

Our main product, the St. ERHARD Original, in its printed transparent-glass bottle, has over the years evolved into a genuine style icon. That’s something we don’t want to change, which is why we’ve stayed with the tried-and-tested design. But all additional specialty beers now being launched on the market are in the new design.

How many varieties do you meanwhile have in the product range?

It’s difficult to give a precise figure, because we frequently produce special brews, so the number often varies. We have four beers in our permanent range: the “Original Kellerbier”, our “Saison”, that’s a Belgian beer style, our “Farmer”, that’s a farmhouse IPA, and the “Mayflower”, an IPA.

 Your original idea of course, was to sell German beer abroad. How are exports performing now?

Exports are holding up well. Our new beers are now also being delivered to Taiwan, for example. Thanks to our Swedish designer, though, demand is rising in Scandinavia too. At the same time, of course, the German craft beer market has also evolved over the years, so we’re no longer solely reliant on exports.

As you already said, the German craft market is growing – curse or blessing?

I would say both at once, in a way! But you can’t complain: after all, competition is something quite normal and inevitable! The market is rather volatile, which is precisely what makes things exciting! What’s more, with the Bierothek we’ve got our own retail division, which means we can help to shape and control the market. With our nine autonomous branches, we’re meanwhile the biggest craft beer retailer in Germany. In addition, we also supply several partner dealers and catering outlets.

The pictures in this article were kindly provided by Bedow.

As you can see, St. ERHARD and the Bierothek have not been idle in recent years. We’re looking forward to seeing what happens next: after all, a firm that launches two new designs in seven years is bound to have quite a lot more up its sleeve. We’ll be staying on top of this story, of course, and keeping you up to date as soon as St. ERHARD scores its next coup!

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