Brewer Kilian Stückler took over at the brewery “Hirschbräu”. in Sonthofen, which has been in his family for 160 years. He runs the familiy business in sixth generation where he fuses tradition and experimentation
Brewmaster Kilian Stückler
For more than 350 years, beer has flowed from the taps of this brewery in the heart of this Alpine town. This is highly unusual, as master brewer Kilian Stückler knows: “Most breweries were set up in town centres but then moved out at some point. Either because they didn’t have enough space or because the premises were too expensive.”
In 2020, Kilian Stückler took over at the brewery, which has been in his family for 160 years. However, his parents never put any pressure on him to follow in their footsteps. Initially, Kilian had other plans: after training as a banker, he settled overseas. During this time, he gave a lot of thought to entering the brewery: “In phone calls with my mother we spoke a lot about how best to go about it. And since I wanted to know more about beer, I decided to train as a master brewer.”
Once this decision had been made, Kilian moved back to Germany to do a master brewing course in Munich. A big responsibility, but Kilian has never regretted the move.
Tradition and experimentation
“I was completely blown away with how well the beer was received.”
Kilian is passionate about experimenting. He is never happier than when he stands in his kitchen with a big saucepan, playing around with new beer recipes. Colour, aroma, alcohol content – before he starts, Kilian already has an idea of how the beer should taste. Even though beer is only made of four ingredients – malt, hops, water and yeast – it is not at all easy to always find the right blend.
It took him 16 attempts to perfect one of his best known beers, the Rote Perle (Red Pearl). But he got there in the end: the result is a beer whose particular blend of malts gives it a red colour. The second part of the name comes from the Perle, a traditional German hop variety. Another hop variety gives the beer its fruity-creamy note.
Black Bock from the rum cask
For Kilian, all his many trials have paid off: “I was completely blown away with how well the beer was received.” Another beer that he is particularly proud of is “Opa Ferdels Jamaica Rum Black Bock”, a beer matured in a rum cask, which Kilian brewed to celebrate his grandfather’s 90th birthday.
It’s perfectly possible that the young master brewer inherited his passion for complex flavours from his grandfather Ferdl: “Even in his 90s, my grandpa was still open to my beer creations,” recalls Kilian.
No expense or effort spared
His beers all comply with the German Purity Law and mature, according to custom, for between six and eight weeks. Many beer breweries can no longer afford such a long maturing process and shorten this time. Kilian is fascinated by the chemical reactions in brewing: “Our product changes with every step of the process. When you compare the wort that we produce in the brewery with the glowing, golden-yellow beer and white foam crown in the glass, it’s certainly fascinating.”
His love of the production of fine beers is shared by Uli Brandl, the owner of the restaurant “’s handwerk”, which offers home-made, traditional cuisine just a few metres away from the brewery. It’s also the only place you can buy the Rote Perle beer.
Skate Park and Stammtisch as favourite places
For Kilian, beer is more than just a drink to be enjoyed: “drinking beer means camaraderie”. He constantly sees the way beer brings people together. No wonder, then, that one of Kilian’s favourite places is his own Stammtisch, or regular table. There he can relax and chat with others. And who knows, perhaps that’s also where he comes up with new ideas for future beers. Next year, he’s planning to make a classic light beer.
Kilian finds it hard to pin down his answer to just two favourite places. He adores the whole Allgäu region around Sonthofen, especially the many mountains: “There are many places in our mountains that are so beautiful it’s hard to believe your eyes. So it would be unfair to mention just one or two. Instead, I’d like to suggest the Skate Park in Sonthofen. It may only appeal to a few people, but it’s definitely one of my favourite places.”
... from Kilian
Bicycle tours around Sonthofen
This year I have rediscovered cycling for myself. I especially like to ride on the Königssträßchen. Or I take the tour through the Oytal to the Käseralpe.
alpsee-gruenten.de (only in German)