THE BREWERY'S MAIN MAN
From the very beginning of brewing history, the brewer has been one of the most important people at a brewery. And that still remains true. The brewer oversees the brewing of beer, and is also in charge of malting, mashing, draining, maturing, and the final bottling of beer.
How did you become a brewer at Kaltenecker?
I got this job by chance while looking for work. I started in 2009 as an assitant brewer. I subsequently became a brewer and eventually the master brewer at Kaltenecker brewery.
What does your profession entail? What’s a brewer responsible for at the brewery?
The profession of brewer is a bit uncommon, and many people are probably hearing about it for the first time. A brewer brews beer and ensures that the process of beer fermentation and maturation runs properly.
Did you attend college or learn on the job?
A person becomes a brewer after several years of working in a brewery, after amassing the necessary experience. Of course, the practice needs to be combined with the study of malting and brewing, which I also did.
What knowledge do you think is necessary to be a brewer?
A brewer’s knowledge is the basis of every brewery’s operation. Foresight, responsibility and especially understanding the production process are among the basic knowledge of every brewer.
What’s your typical day?
Every morning starts at the boiler room, which is the heart of the brewery. The brewer starts the boiling process, and is also responsible for the fermentation of maturing beers, monitoring temperatures and time intervals during brewing, and checking the quality of raw materials. And he’s also responsible for the final product and compliance with all necessary value data. It’s important that all requirements pertaining to the product are met and complied with, also from the legislative perspective.
What’s the process of beer production at Kaltenecker brewery?
The beer production process comprises several parts. For the malt to start processing, it must be crushed in a mill to the required thickness. The crushed malt is mixed with water in a mashing boiler. Various chemical processes take place during mashing. This is followed by straining, where the liquid and thick parts are separated. We then get wort, which is pumped into the wort boiler. This is then run through the hop plant, during which hops are added to the boiling malt.
Which part of the beer production process do you consider the most important?
Maintaining the gravity and alcohol during fermentation.
How long does beer production take?
The boiling takes about eight hours. This is followed by fermentation and maturation of beer. It takes two to three months from the brewing of beer to its delivery to customers.
How do you select the raw materials for Kaltenecker beer?
On the basis of qualitative parameters. We adhere to the saying that we can only achieve a quality product from quality raw materials.
How many beer types have you brewed?
There are very many beer categories, and we have already brewed about 100 beer types at the brewery.
How much beer does Kaltenecker brewery produce annually?
15,000 hectoliters. That is Kaltenecker brewery’s capacity.
How many people are involved in the brewing process?
In addition to me, there are also two assistant brewers who have perfect control of all processes and are essential in delivering the production plan.
Apart from lagers, Kaltenecker is also known for its specials. Is working with specials more demanding than with lagers?
The most demanding beer to produce is lager. Of the beer specials, Autumn, for example, is difficult to prepare because peaches are ground and added manually.
What inspires your new tastes?
Everything around us. Yet I mainly draw on tasting other beers with various styles, and observations whilst on holiday. It just must taste right!
What’s the most interesting beer flavour you’ve tried?
Beer with oyster, chilli beer, and buckthorn beer were interesting. Experimenting with producing new beers is natural for us, as it keeps us moving forward.
As well as an original taste, Kaltenecker beers also have original names. How do the names come about?
Beer names take various inspiration. For example, Yakima is named after the beer hops from the Yakima Valley.
Are awards important for Kaltenecker brewery?
All our awards are highly prized by me and the whole brewery. Such awards are the fruit of our daily endeavours. We really appreciate them, and we’re glad that such awards rank us among the best breweries. We’re the most awarded brewery in Slovakia.
Do you prefer lagers or specials?
I don’t really know a beer that I wouldn’t try. I like specials, but of course lagers also have their place.
How many beers does Kaltenecker’s brewer enjoy every day?
When I can, I always like to make a sacrifice and treat myself to a few beers a day.