“The currently popular trend to craft beers originated in the USA,” says Andrea Kalrait, Director Exhibitions BrauBeviale at NürnbergMesse, but there’s no need to look so far. The art of craft brewing has also been cultivated for centuries in many breweries on Nürnberg’s doorstep in Franconian Switzerland. “It is therefore obvious to bring this worldwide movement into the home of beer at this year’s BrauBeviale with the trend theme ‘Culture of Craft Brewing’”, according to Kalrait. The renowned US beer specialist Jim Koch, who himself started with small experiments in his own kitchen, has been obtained as keynote speaker at the opening ceremony of BrauBeviale. Today he is founder and managing director of the Boston Beer Company, which brews the famous Samuel Adams, and as an insider can provide excellent information on the development of the culture of craft brewing.
Around 1,700 breweries existed in the USA at the start of the 20th century. Small breweries were gradually forced out of consumer favour and thus ultimately out of the market by massive nationwide promotion campaigns by the large companies. Only six large companies produced the beer for the US market in 1983 – mainly light lagers with low hop content. A home brewing scene developed parallel to this with the aim of restoring the consumers’ awareness of the variety of taste and the tradition of beer and whetting their appetite for more. More and more small and local breweries have now been stirring up the beer market with their craft beer specialities for a good 30 years. The number rose from eight breweries in 1980 to 537 in 1994 and over 1,600 in 2010. Whereas the beer market generally tends to shrink, the market for craft beer has advanced regardless. The market share of craft beer in the USA in 2011 was 9.1 per cent – trend rising.
The situation in Germany is a little different, emphasizes Dr. Werner Gloßner, Chief Executive Officer of Private Brauereien Bayern (Bavarian Association of Private Breweries), the honorary sponsor of BrauBeviale: “The name craft beer doesn’t really fit here. In the USA it was newly founded craft breweries that launched the trend to beer specialities in order to stand out from the beer brewed by industrial concerns. On the other hand, we have always had small and medium-sized breweries that brew craft beer.” Gloßner does, however, very much welcome the trend of the craft beer movement to characterful beers and specialities: “In this way old traditional kinds of beer like Märzen or Zwickl also regain a more original taste, so we gain more and more new beer lovers.” World champion beer sommelier Oliver Wesseloh assesses the situation in his home country Germany positively: “We’re well on the right track. More and more gastronomes and retailers are discovering the trend to the culture of craft brewing and recognize that they can distinctly stand out from the competition if they offer their customers a suitable variety of beers. Networking is increasing appreciably in the industry.”
The “European MicroBrew Symposium – Market, Trends and Technology”, which generates important impetus and good ideas the day before BrauBeviale, also promotes the exchange of views among the brewers. NürnbergMesse and the Versuchs- und Lehranstalt für Brauerei (VLB – Brewery Research and Training Institute) of Berlin are now organizing this popular training event for the third time. The symposium is intended for managing directors, proprietors, technical managers and master brewers from European microbreweries and pub breweries, and for representatives from the supply industry. The key topics are engineering and technology with the focus on microbrewing as well as market developments in the European craft brewing segment. The conference language is English. The Forum for Inspiration, Innovation & Exchange also takes up the motto during the actual exhibition, when well-known international speakers explain “beer culture” to the visitors from technical and commercial management in the European beverage industry. Those who would then like more information with specific examples simply follow the exhibitors tour created specially for the trend theme “Culture of Craft Brewing” and find out at first hand what the specific solutions for creative brewers could look like.
The craft beer movement in Europe is especially well established in Scandinavia and the Benelux States. In Denmark there were 19 breweries in 2000 and nine years later as many as 120. Industry experts therefore regard this country as the pioneer for craft beer in Europe; many German brewers made a pilgrimage to the USA and to Copenhagen for the Beer Festival. The culture of craft brewing is currently also developing extremely positively in Italy and its most northern province, South Tyrol.
Italy, the wine region, as a country with a great beer tradition? Barely imaginable, but true. Italy has a long tradition of brewing, marked by aspects such as its proximity to Austria and the breweries in North Italy. Until recently there was no great variety, but today the Italians experiment more than ever with brewing methods and storage in diverse barrels. Luca Giaccone, Italian craft beer expert and co-publisher of the “Guida alle Birre d’Italia” from the Slow Food Organization: “The small and hardly noticed microbrewing scene in Italy has grown rapidly in the past years and is attracting tremendous interest. Every self-respecting restaurant now offers the right beer to go with the Italian specialities. Craft beers from Italy are also very well accepted abroad: We are proud of the constantly growing number of products that are very popular on the international market. The ‘from Italy’ tag attracts interest and stands for quality and enjoyment.” There are meanwhile some 300 small breweries in Italy that like to try out new things and are dedicated to “birra artigianale” (craft beer). South Tyrol still plays a key role here: as many as eight pub breweries brew beer specialities, some of which have won international awards. The specialist trade has also discovered the potential offered by characterful beers. One of them is Lukas Harpf, owner of the family company harpf with its headquarters in Bruneck in the eastern part of South Tyrol. He is intensively involved with craft beer specialities from Italy and other beer nations. “I am very interested in a return to our roots and our craft skills. As a beverage retailer, I have therefore supported the slowly re-emerging brewing tradition and beer culture in South Tyrol over the past years,” says Harpf, explaining his philosophy and the background for his action.
Not only Italian beers, but craft beers from all over the world faced the strict judging of the jury for the European Beer Star Award, which has had its exhibition home at BrauBeviale since 2004 – there were over 1,500 beers in 2013. The award launched jointly by Private Brauereien Bayern, the honorary sponsor of the exhibition, and the German and European federations has quickly developed into Europe’s biggest beer competition. Visitors can traditionally try the gold medal winners of the craft beers on the first day of the exhibition and choose their favourite: the Consumers’ Favourite 2014 in gold, silver and bronze. There will also be a special degustation area for tasting trends and specialities throughout the exhibition. “In line with the trend theme we have set up a Craft Beer Lounge, where selected beer creations can be tasted in a pleasant atmosphere with expert guidance from beer sommeliers,” says a delighted Andrea Kalrait commenting on this offer for thirsty visitors. “So there are no more barriers to good talks and good business.”