Bierol craft beer brewery Schwoich
Bierol - the creative beer from Tyrol
Boundaries are there to be crossed. That's something that Maximilian Karner, Christoph Bichler and Marko Nikolic agree on. These three beer brewing fans from Schwoich have been mixing up the Austrian craft beer scene since 2014. With unusual beer creations that classic breweries don't dare brew. True to their motto: life is too short to always drink the same beer.
At the end of 2012, after Peter Bichler opened his private brewery in a district of Kufstein, his son Christoph came back from an internship in the USA with an unusual idea. He had discovered craft beer. Once back home he got going straight away. His school friend Maximilian Karner joined up as an accomplice. In their free time they experimented with various types of hops and malt. Very much in keeping with the craft beer scene, which was formed in America 30 years ago. It's a counter movement to the similarity of beers available from industrial breweries. However nothing about the brewing process changes: they create a mash of spring water and malt. The starch in the malt changes into sugar during the mashing process. Then it is filtered out and fed to the neighbour's cows. The liquid is boiled with hops. Depending on the type, this hops is responsible for the bitterness of the beer, but also for aromas such as mango and grapefruit. Depending on the taste of the brew master. This is the difference compared to other beers: "We want to brew aromatic beer, which we think tastes good", explains Christoph Bichler. The mixture is then mixed with yeast, and cooled. The yeast transforms the sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide. The finished beer rests for up to six weeks before being filled into bottles. Tyrol's first craft beer brewery emerged step by step.
Various things led to its success.
And because the Schwoich locals brew, order, fill, label and deliver everything themselves, they also added a beer sommelier to the team: Marko Nikolic. Today these three are the success ingredients for the little Schwoich brewery. In fact, by now they could brew anywhere and have moved to a larger city. But craft beer is closely linked to the brew master, and he needs to feel at home in his surroundings. And that's how the creative entrepreneurs feel in Schwoich, a traditional location. They use that's there. The ingredients are right for them: their own spring runs straight from the Pölven into their "beer tank". The outdoor activity options at their front door fill their "think tanks". And even without knowing it, they brought a local tradition back to life: "In the past there were lots of breweries in Kufstein. It's not known whether it was because of the many natural lakes, which were used to cool the beer in summer, the fortress with its many tunnels for storage, or the fact that the fortress city residents loved their drink", says Maximilian Karner.
Sip by sip
But the fact that they fill their bottles according to their own tastes doesn't mean that the Bierol brewers don't also manage to make something that everyone else likes too. At the first craft beer festival in Vienna their Mountain Pale Ale was selected as a favourite by the public. And so the Tyrolean brewers landed quickly in the Viennese craft beer scene. They won customers amongst regional beverage distributors as well as some catering around Austria and Germany, and also fashionable gastronomes.
The more impartial better
But how do you drink craft beer? Slow tasting is the most important thing when trying it for the first time. "The order of beers tried should follow a sequence from the somewhat milder to the stronger varieties", explains beer sommelier Marko Nikolic. And just like wine, the nose is very important. By chance the local Kufstein glass manufacturer, Riedel, and its subsidiary Spiegelau have brought craft beer glasses to the market. This makes tasting by smell possible. Anyone who wants to know more about Tyrol's first craft beer brewery and its creative beer can now stick their nose in Kufstein glasses. And learn what Number One, Mountain Pale Ale, Going Hazelnuts and The Padawan smell like in the imaginations of the brew masters.