Lost German beer styles found in New Zealand

By BeertownNZ Thu, 12 May 2016 National

German brewer Sebastian Sauer enjoys reviving lost styles from German brewing history. Beers from his two projects, Freigeist Bierkultur and The Monarchy, are coming to New Zealand for the first time, imported by Beer Without Borders. Sebastain tells Beertown.NZ about his approach to brewing.

Beertown.NZ: How did you become a professional brewer?

Sebastian: After travelling around for many years to taste and experience different type of beers, I decided to found my own brewing project, Freigeist Bierkultur, in 2009. I partnered up with a brewer friend who owns his own brewpub to start working on different recipes together to revive forgotten old beer styles from Germany to bring back these tastes to our modern craft beer scene. Last year, I bought him out of Freigeist to run it completely independently.

Beertown.NZ: Tell us about your brewery.

Sebastian: Well, I don’t have my own brewery, but I work at different places. As I said, we started on a 1000L brewpub installation and capacity became soon too small, so we needed to cooperate with a brewery with a bigger installation. This brewery was recommended by a friend, but turned out to be too far away for constantly going there for realising new recipes. So we found a place being closer (still not extremely close) where I go many times for brewing and surveying the production. Since last year, I work with a third brewery together for more production.

Beertown.NZ: What is the difference between The Monarchy and Freigeist Bierkultur?

Sebastian: As my business partner in Freigeist wasn’t that focussed on the project I wanted to see, things moved more slowly then I wished. I also wanted to be more independent and work more specific on recreations on historical beers. That’s why I founded The Monarchy in 2012.

Beertown.NZ: The Monarchy website says you specialise in forgotten German beer styles. What are these styles and what makes them interesting to make?

Sebastian: Well, people in Germany think that we have a huge variety of beers, but when you look a bit closer, we don’t have many actual styles left, but only a lot of brands. But in the history, we had way more distinctive styles with own tastes and history which I wanted to have back. Two examples: 

1) „Methusalem“ is my recreation of a so-called „Adambier“ which used to be one of the strongest top-fermenting beer styles in Germany. It was a strong, sourish and little smoky version of an Altbier with a long lagering time. 

2) The recipe of „Preußen Weiße“ dates back to an old recipe book from 1831 which describes a „nice wheat beer“ and shows what classic wheat beers tasted like in our area (as the Reinheitsgebot just started acting as a law outside of Bavaria in 1906) at that time. So it contains next to the regular ingredients also sugar beet syrup, ginger, juniper berries and salt.

Beertown.NZ: You’re based in Stolberg, very close to the border with Belgium and the Netherlands. Is Stolberg influenced by Belgian and Dutch brewing traditions?

Sebastian: No, not at all. Actually, the Dutch brewing is more based on the German and not the opposite.

Beertown.NZ: Are you planning to come and visit us in New Zealand?

Sebastian: I would love to and I hope it happens some time in the future soon.

Freiheit Bierkultur and The Monarchy beers are being released around the country next week, in events at nine venues from Auckland to Dunedin. Find more here.

By BeertownNZ Thu, 12 May 2016 National