A home needs a beer
For 300 years the people of Garmisch-Partenkirchen used to brew their own beer – until the long-established Brauhaus Garmisch was closed down in the 1970s due to a family feud. Since then the region’s beer lovers have had to resort to beer from out of town.
And that is a state of affairs Antonius Huber and Alexander Müller wanted to change: they worked on the perfect beer recipe for two years – and were successful. In May of 2018 the first batch of “Garmischer Hell” came onto the market and it was sold out in no time. In their interview the two native Garmisch-Partenkircheners talk about how they managed to revive the Werdenfels region’s beer-brewing culture.
L.L./ You two are proper Bavarians – do you remember the first time you ever got in touch with beer?
A.H./ Well, beer is part of Bavarian culture, so we grew up with it. Of course, when we were children we didn’t drink any. When we were teenagers, however, at 16/17 that slowly started to change.
"We’d had this idea of brewing beer together for a long time." Alexander Müller
L.L./ Your backgrounds are actually in the pharmaceutics and real estate industry, respectively. At the first glance this has very little to do with beer brewing. How did you develop a taste for it?
A.M./ I studied bioengineering in Weihenstephan – and there are many parallels with brewing, so I came in touch with the subject of beer brewing very soon. I already experimented with making alcoholic beverages during my studies there.
A.H./ We’d had this idea of brewing beer together for a long time. In order to properly set up a large project like that you need a high-quality product, of course, but also solid financial planning, a solid distribution network, and great marketing. We make an efficient team that way.
"In all the main points we complement each other very well." Antonius Huber
L.L./ You’ve known each other since you were children. How did you know you’d be there perfect partners for making Garmisch beer? What are your respective roles?
A.H./ In all the main points we complement each other very well. Alexander developed the brewing process, we decided on the taste together and discussed new products.
A.M./ Antonius contributed the business figures and organised the distribution channel and marketing. This way each of us got to contribute his ideas and was able to rely on the other’s know-how.
"We had a very clear vision of what our beer was supposed to be like from the beginning." Alexander Müller
L.L./ In May 2018 the first lager beer, “Garmischer Hell”, came on the market. How can we envision the process from the idea to the finished beer?
A.M./ We had a very clear vision of what our beer was supposed to be like from the beginning. For the lager, for example, we worked on our small brewing plant for two years to perfect the recipe step by step. For some types that process was faster. But only when we’re 100% happy with the product do we start working on the production scale.
"This way all kinds have their own, special character." Antonius Huber
L.L./ There are many different kinds of beers. What aromas does a beer need to have, according to you?
A.M./ Each kind must meet certain taste criteria. The lager needs a pleasant hop bouquet that is not covered by an overpowering malty body. The export/Märzen, on the other hand, has a heavier body where the malt is more present, and the hops stay in the background.
A.H./ This way all kinds have their own, special character.
L.L./ You both still have fulltime jobs, so your beer is made at the traditional brewery Herrnbräu in Ingolstadt at the moment. What elements of the brewing process were important to you? Why was Herrnbräu an option?
A.H./ With Herrnbräu we found a partner that’s a perfect fit for us in terms of competence and size and they implement our ideas and specifications really well. It’s just good chemistry.
"We already have some awesome new recipes that are waiting in the drawer." Alexander Müller
L.L./ Garmisch brewed its own beer for 365 years – until 1972. Do you feel like you’re bringing back a piece of tradition with Brauhaus Garmisch?
A.H./ Absolutely. That was our motivation in the first place.
L.L./ Garmischer Hell is in high demand. So much so that you’ve been struggling to keep up with the deliveries. When do you think it’ll be time for Garmisch-Partenkirchen to have its own brewery again?
A.H./ Our planning was actually quite courageous, and we started several brews at the same time. We really did not anticipate selling all of it in a week-and-a-half. A high-quality beer simply needs time to ripen. That’s why we had a short production bottleneck. But we are trying to meet this with very forward-looking planning. But, of course, you can never know for sure. It’ll have to be a healthy, step-by-step development.
A.M./ This also includes the next logical step of getting our own brewing plant which we are planning to set up in the old Brauhaus premises next winter.
"We really did not anticipate selling all of it in a week-and-a-half." Antonius Huber
L.L./ The rumour mill is running: you are to expand your range by new types soon? Is there anything you can tell us about that?
A.M./ That’s exactly what we’ll start with in our own brewery. We already have some awesome new recipes that are waiting in the drawer. And a little bit of info has already leaked. There will be a wheat beer. And an export or Märzen. The Märzen would be a much stronger brew. We still need to pick one of the two, though. And that’s all we want to say today.
L.L./ The start really was quite promising. Imagine your Helles finds lots of fans in Garmisch-Partenkirchen and the world – where do you see Brauhaus Garmisch in five years?
A.H./ Our wish for five years from now would be for Garmischer Hell to continue to be popular and for us to run Garmisch-Partenkirchen’s own brewery again. As far as everything else goes we’ll just wait and see.
Antonius Huber and Alexander Müller have developed their own idea and concept for reviving Garmisch-Partenkirchen’s brewing tradition.
Alexander Müller studied bioengineering in Weihenstephan where he dealt with bioprocess and plant engineering which turned out to be very helpful later. Antonius Huber has a master’s degree in business administration and is in charge of all of the company’s figures. And now, since May 2018, the market town once again has its own lager Garmischer Hell – true to the motto “A home needs a beer”.