Berlin's masters of the NEIPA
Saturday 17 December 2022
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Ones to Watch
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Don’t be fooled by Fuerst Wiacek’s origin story; ideas for the brewery might have been born in Lukasz Wiacek’s kitchen, where he and co-founder Georg Fuerst started homebrewing, but the pair would bring some science, luck, and star-studded experience to their first serious attempts to establish a brewery of their own.
The story really starts before Fuerst Wiacek was born, in 2016, by which point Lukasz had heard rumours of a New England IPA, but couldn’t get his hands on an example of the style anywhere in Germany. To assuage his curiosity, he decided to find a recipe and brew a NEIPA of his own.
It wasn’t until visiting New York some time later, and tasting his first authentic NEIPA, that Lukasz realised he hadn’t done a bad job. He and Georg started brewing some more, initially on a mulled wine cooker and in quantities that could supply small scale events being hosted by local businesses, all to receive increasingly positive feedback.
Recognising a growing appetite for modern craft, and the implicit need to up-scale, Georg and Lukasz started brewing 2000L shots at a brewery in the south of Germany that had some tank space it was happy to lend to a fledgling Fuerst Wiacek. At this time Georg and Lukasz had other jobs that confined brewing endeavours to the weekend, so on Fridays they would jump in a campervan, drive south and park up over the weekend, while they brewed during the days.
Once they brought the beer back to Berlin, Georg and Lukasz would self-distribute among bars and bottle shops that were happy to support them. That was until they were connected with a distributor who, by chance, found one of the brewery’s first ever recipes, in a bar that Georg and Lukasz had just recently started distributing to. The bar put distributor and brewer in contact, and the rest was history.
When Brand Rep & Content Creator David Yates tells me this, I respond by noting how incredibly lucky Georg and Lukasz seem to have been, both in finding a distributor who really found them, and brewing the perfect NEIPA blind, and straight off the bat. While David can see where I’m coming from, he assures me that it was far more science than luck that gave rise to the brewery’s success.
“It was the scientific part of brewing that really drew them in,” says David, “the fact that you need to understand exactly what you're doing. They knew brewing good beer wasn’t as simple as following the recipe, technically, they had to get things just right. As an extension of that Lucas did some internships at Beavertown, Boneyard and Põhjala, and through these learned a bit more about commercial brewing. But obviously, from working at different places, you get to build a connection with other brewers that then you can get advice from in the future, or work together with on improving processes”.
Maintaining relationships with other breweries has always been important to Fuerst Wiacek, not only because better community and connection makes for better beer, but additionally because Fuerst Wiacek brewed at other facilities up until quite recently, last year in fact. David tells me that “it took a long time to find somewhere. Although Berlin is a big city, there weren't many places that either wanted a brewery or that were big enough to be suitable for a brewery. And so although Lucas started looking really early on, it took us some time to find this place”.
Though Fuerst Wiacek’s new and current home was a shell in February 2021, it was fitted out and brewing beer by May of that year, a testament to the brewery’s tenacity and readiness to take up space on the global craft beer stage. David says the nicest thing about the move, has been Fuerst Wiacek’s ability to host and collaborate with greater ease, an acknowledgement I read as both a nod to the past and an excitement about the future.
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