“What this country needs is a wider choice of beers”, says the World Champion of the Beer Sommeliers
“A good beer delights you, it moves you, it helps you to remember it and want to drink it again.” These are Oliver Wesseloh’s firm convictions. The brewing engineer from Germany’s far north is the new World Champion of the Beer Sommeliers, a title he won at the drinktec in several heats and the final against 54 rivals.
Beer sommeliers have been around for ten years now – a new career designation?
I know plenty of colleagues for whom beer sommelier is a fully-fledged career. I myself wear three hats. Primarily, I work for our own brewery I’m also a brewery consultant, and, of course, a beer sommelier.
So you’re a typical representative of the craft beer movement?
Absolutely, yes. That’s how I would describe myself. And with our Kehrwieder Creative Brewery, we’re also part of the movement here in Germany.
How would you define the term “craft brewer”?
In the USA, this is relatively easy to define; there, “craft brewer” means a pure-malt brewer, small and independent. In other words, every German privately owned brewery would come under this category. That’s why I deliberately never use the term here in Germany.
So what you call the German counterpart?
“Creative brewer” is in my opinion the right term for this.
What influence, if any, can the craft beer movement in Germany or Belgium, the mother countries of beer, still have on the beer culture?
Belgium has a very vibrant beer culture. In Germany we have very nice small and mid-tier breweries, many of them in rural regions, particularly in the south of Germany. Nevertheless, the beer scene in Germany is rather isolated, that simply has to be said. This means the movement here is just starting out.
Where might this development lead?
In the USA, the market share is now about ten per cent, following 33 years of evolution. If in Germany we manage to reach perhaps five per cent in the medium term with interesting, creative beers, well, that would be wonderful. That helps the entire sector; it upgrades the value and the repute of beer in general. So the big breweries would benefit as well. For the small ones, it offers an entirely new field of activity, and scope for launching new creations on the market, to re-awaken consumers’ enthusiasm for beer.
Oliver Wesseloh takes his remit as the third World Champion of Sommeliers for Beer very seriously, and sees himself as an ambassador for beer culture: “Beer culture is synonymous with diversity, and that’s why I say: “What this country needs is a wider choice of beer.”