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Why Goethe and Batman spring to my mind when I think of Schneider Weisse

“Two souls dwell, alas! in my breast.” If Dr Faust had not chosen the devil – of all creatures! – as the therapist to deal with this problem, who knows? Perhaps then many generations of German pupils would have been spared his whinging. Somebody who manages to reconcile two seemingly contrasting passions even without supernatural help is Hans-Peter-Drexler.

Drexler epitomises two beer philosophies, which – as people are fond of saying – do not have very much in common: he is a traditional brewer and a craft beer rebel in one. And for this he doesn’t even have to lead a Bruce-Wayne/Batman-like double life. Though I must admit this idea is definitely fascinating: a brewmaster who in daytime nurtures the brewery’s heritage of the past, and under the cover of night is busy experimenting with all the more bizarre beer creations. (Hello Netflix, wouldn’t that be great stuff for a series?)

Sure, such a life as Beer Batman would not only be exciting but also rather exhausting. So it’s all the better that Hans-Peter Drexler doesn’t need to lead a double life because as brewmaster at Schneider Weisse he is able to invent creative beers quite officially while at the same time upholding an almost 150-year-old tradition.

Air is necessary for creating multi-facetted aromas

This tradition is based on one source: the Schneider Original. As the epitome of a Bavarian wheat beer, it has since 1872 been brewed without change to the same recipe, which specifies a procedure that has become rather rare in today’s brewing landscape: open-vat fermentation. That ensures that the yeast gets enough oxygen, thus enabling a wide variety of aromas to be created in the wort. This variety in its turn is characteristic for all of Schneider Weisse’s beers. You see, open-vat fermentation is used not only for the brewery’s classic, the Schneider Original, but also for its other nine wheat beer specialties, including, for example, the tangy-sweet Hopfenweisse, the deep-dark mahogany-coloured AventinusEisbock or the Nelson Sauvin beer that has been brewed with the eponymous hop variety from New Zealand.

Yet another special feature: most of Schneider’s beers are filled into bottles or casks together with some fresh wort, which makes sure they mature into the products that send beer aficionados from Bavaria to Brazil into raptures – and regularly lead to the winner’s podium at international beer competitions.

Source of inspiration: the USA

Schneider Weisse’s international success is based not least on the inquisitive, cosmopolitan spirit of its brewmaster that’s rubbed off on the brewery, too. The craft beer movement has left a particularly deep impression on Hans-Peter Drexler. He was able to observe its birth at close quarters during several trips to the USA in the 1990s – and was thrilled. “What I brought home with me? The impactful insight that it is actually possible to approach brewing with an open mind and without any preconceived notions. An incredibly exciting experience for me,” he says, recalling those days. Back in Lower Bavaria and still in raptures, the brewmaster immediately walked the talk: he developed a beer based on a hop variety he had discovered for himself in the USA. “The hops had a heavy aroma of citrus or grapefruit,” he relates. “So I thought: that ought to go really well with wheat beer. After all, in Bavaria we use to put a slice of lemon into the wheat beer glass.”

And so it happened that Schneider Weisse was one of the first German breweries to bring the innovative vigour of the American craft brewers to our country – long before anyone here had actually heard of “craft beer”. “In those early days, we at home in Bavaria didn’t even know what to call a wheat beer of this kind,” says Hans-Peter Drexler, laughing.

Those who know what they’re doing sleep soundly at night

Despite their zest for experimentation, Schneider Weisse has remained true to open-vat fermentation even for new recipes. For Brewmaster Drexler, sticking with a traditional process does not mean a limitation but quite the opposite – he finds it truly enriching. “I personally think our main beer type, the Original Schneider Weisse, is an ingenious beer – precisely because we owe open-vat fermentation to this beer,” he explains. “Ensuring that this great process is retained has always been a matter of crucial importance to me.”

This is also why he doesn’t mind the more elaborate procedures that the traditional method inevitably entails, demanding as it does perfect hygiene conditions and not forgiving even the tiniest of mistakes. In addition, there is also Schneider Weisse’s self-imposed imperative: to brew a beer of uncompromising quality in the finest of craft traditions. “Anyone buying a beer from Schneider Weisse rightfully expects a certain taste. We can afford absolutely no fluctuations here,” says Drexler emphatically.

So how is he able to get a wink of sleep at all? This is a question he gets asked quite often – mostly it’s his fellow brewers who want to know and ask him with a genuine tone of respect in their voice. And he replies tongue in cheek: “Well, as it is I do in fact sleep quite well at night.” That he remains so unperturbed is attributable above all to the vast fund of experience he and his team can draw upon. “You know, Schneider Weisse has been specialising in this field for a long, long time,” he says. “We know the process inside out, and have matched our system technology to suit it down to the very last detail.”

This likewise applies to the new Krones solutions that recently started operation at Schneider Weisse. What exactly is involved here and what sort of experience the brewery has had with them, this is all described in detail in the latest issue 4/20 of the krones magazine and on our website or you can take a look at this video:


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