Greetings Beer & Travel Lovers!
Last spring we published an article titled, An American Woman in Deutschland in which we introduced Kirsten Rhein, an American woman who was doing some impressive things in the German brewing industry. In that article, we wrote “No doubt you can expect to hear a lot more about Kirsten in the years ahead!”
As expected, Kirsten continues to charge ahead and a lot has happened in her life in just nine short months. So in this month’s article we’ll catch up with Kirsten again and we’ll introduce Braukraft, a Munich area craft brewery in which she has become a co-owner along with its founder, Mathias Lottes.
Catching Back Up
When we first met Kirsten, she was in the thick of a brewing credential program, which she hoped to complete last summer. At the same time, she was working full-time at the Tölzer Mühlfeldbräu brewery in Bad Tölz, Germany, helping them brew their impressive line of craft beers as well as helping them sell/distribute those beers.
Prior to that, she worked for the Schneider-Weisse brewery doing export sales. Schneider-Weisse is very highly regarded in Germany, as it was the first commercial brewery to be licensed to brew wheat beer back in 1872, and while there, Kirsten made some great connections throughout the industry.
The Braukraft Connection
Kirsten and Mathias’s relationship goes back 4 years to when they started brewing together in Mathias’s basement. Although Mathias started brewing as a side project (his day job is as a Lufthansa pilot) his long-term goal was to build Braukraft into a successful, independent brewery.
Kirsten (center) and Mathias (right) in Mathias' basement in 2013
In the ensuing years, Braukraft started to gain traction, but since Kirsten was still studying and had a paying job at another brewery, her and Mathias’ brewing activities tapered off. However, they were very close friends and thought there might come a day when their brewing paths would cross again.
As the months passed, Mathias occasionally approached Kirsten with the idea of coming to work at Braukraft. But Kirsten was no longer interested in working for someone else; she was looking for an opportunity that offered more potential for personal and professional growth.
Then in late 2017, Mathias approached her once again as he had recently acquired space to build his own physical brewing facility and needed help to take the company to the next level. But Kirsten stood firm in her need for an ownership stake and eventually Mathias agreed. As she puts it, “I wanted to invest in my future and to tell you the truth, once I saw the brewery with my own eyes, I fell in love immediately. Owning your own brewery is very difficult and exceptionally rare in Munich, and I knew this opportunity wouldn't likely come again!”
So the two of them worked out a deal for Kirsten to invest in Braukraft and they’re back in business again! And they’re pretty confident in this partnership because, as Kirsten puts it, “We know each other very well, and we both recognize the strengths each of us brings to the partnership.”
Kirsten and Mathias in January 2018
Initially, Kirsten will be the only person working full-time at the brewery and will be involved in all aspects of the business including brewing, operations and sales/marketing. It’s going to be busy, as they need to finish building out the brewery, tasting room and beer garden, all of which should be completed in the spring. At the same time, Kirsten will be marketing to create demand at both the brewery as well as thru retail distribution.
It’s worth noting that the German brewing industry is male-dominated and it’s not easy for a woman to advance herself. But Kirsten is, if nothing else, strong-willed and has persevered to become one of the very few female brewery owners in Germany and the world.
How to Find Braukraft
The brewery is located about 30 minutes west of Munich at Münchener Strasse 20, 82205 Gilching, and is easy to reach from the center of Munich using the S-Bahn system. Take the S8 train towards Herrsching (name of the final stop that appears on the signs and train) and get off at the Geisenbrunn station.
If you’d like to visit the brewery, reach out to Kirsten at firstname.lastname@example.org and she’ll find a time to meet you and introduce you to all things Braukraft. FYI, she’s originally from Cincinnati so she definitely speaks your language!
Lautering and boiling tanks in place as the brewery gets built out
Mathias and Kirsten are steadfast in their goal of building Braukraft into a successful and independent brewery; so don’t expect them to be selling out to Heineken or AB InBev anytime soon.
They intend to offer an interesting assortment of beers ranging from traditional styles to some that your grandparents definitely never tried. And whereas some favorites may be available year-round, Kirsten has considerable experience creating new and interesting recipes as well as brewing collaboratively with other breweries. So you can always expect to find an interesting assortment of beers on tap at Braukraft.
Braukraft P.Oter (left) and Max-Q logos (right)
Speaking to the traditional aspect, Kirsten hopes to someday install open-air fermentation equipment that will allow them to ferment the way it’s been done for hundreds of years at award-winning breweries like Schneider Weisse, and Weihenstephan which has been brewing since the year 1040.
On the flip side, two of their recent creations are a New England Style IPA (cloudy, hazy, juicy) and an ale called “Strawberry Shortcake Cream Ale with Pink Pepper”. You may wonder how they get around the Reinheitsgebot (German Purity Law of 1516) and produce a beer that includes and/or tastes like strawberries and pink peppers. All I can say is that they came up with a way of doing it, and you’ll have to ask Kirsten when you visit the brewery!
Five (out of 700 and counting) members of “The Beer Tasting Social Club: Life is too Short for Bad Beer” at Braunkunst 2018
Original Gravity Tours
We hope this article whetted your appetite for a trip to Germany? We also hope you’ll join us on one of our Munich & Bamberg Brewery Tours. If so, you’ll definitely get to meet Kirsten and the rest of the folks at Braukraft. You’ll also tour the world's oldest breweries, experience the finest beer gardens and halls, walk the Bamberg breweries trail, explore the 1,000 year-old cities of Munich & Bamberg, ferry the Danube River, and more!
AHA Members: As a reminder, members of the American Homebrewers Association are entitled to a discount on our 2018 tours. Please look for the Feb. 6th “New AHA Member Deal Near You” email in your inbox for details. And please visit us at Munich & Bamberg Brewery Tours for more information about our tours.
Until next time, thank you and Prost!
Greetings! I'm a passionate beer and international travel lover. Other than craft beer, I mostly go for German & Belgian beers and if you share the same interests, you may enjoy my blog. Prost and Proost!