Germany: Eichbaum Brewery Returns to Single Ownership

The shares of Privatbrauerei Eichbaum in Mannheim, Germany, will soon be in a single hand. Andreas Hiby-Durst, a 62-year-old from a distinguished German maltster dynasty, will become the sole owner of the 1.8 million hectoliter brewery by fully acquiring the 50% stake of 43-year-old co-owner Thomas Keilbach.

Keilbach inherited the shares from his father, Jochen Keilbach, the long-time technical director of Eichbaum. In 2009, Jochen Keilbach, together with Hiby-Durst as a silent partner, took over the brewery in a management buyout from Actris AG, a company owned by SAP founder Dietmar Hopp. Hopp had acquired the brewery as part of a real estate deal with Henninger Bräu in Frankfurt and found no use for it.

At that time, Hiby-Durst, still managing director and owner of his family business Durst Malz, feared negative reactions from malt customers now that he was a competitor in the beer business. He remained anonymous when he sold the malting company to Malteries Soufflet in 2011, staying on for the following years to smooth the transition to the new owners. Only in 2018, after quitting his job with Soufflet, did he step into the spotlight as the new co-managing director of the Mannheim brewery, which traces its history back to 1679.

When Jochen Keilbach fell seriously ill and passed away in 2020 at the age of 69, his younger son Thomas inherited the shares. However, Thomas, being an electrical engineer, lacked the necessary passion for the product and the industry, unlike his father, who had a profound education in brewing science.

Thomas thus approached his fellow shareholder and offered to sell him the remaining half of the brewery "at a very fair price." This solution not only stabilizes the brewery but also opens up new future prospects.

A year ago, Hiby-Durst's confidant, Frank Reifel, the managing director of Mannheim-based Falk & Co Consulting GmbH, was appointed as the new co-managing director. Together with Hiby-Durst, he leads the management team, which includes Uwe Aichele (Sales Domestic and International), Markus Lopsien (Technical), Jürgen Kocher (Administration), and Dr. Michael Engesser (Human Resource).

This ensures a clear leadership structure for the coming years until in the long-term future Hiby-Durst's son, Maximilian Hiby-Durst (30), may join the company. A Master of Science in Marketing Management from the prestigious Spanish business and law school ESADE, Maximilian worked for nearly five years at Hamburg-based skin care and consumer goods company Beiersdorf (brand names Nivea, Tesa, Labello, Hansaplast, 8x4, Eucerin) before taking over key account management at the German branch of Vitamin Well Group, two years ago. Vitamin Well Group is a Swedish company that provides “healthier and better-tasting drinks, snacks, and protein products”.

With a production of 1.8 million hectoliters, Eichbaum is one of the leading breweries in southwestern Germany. Alongside the premium brand Eichbaum Ureich Premium Pils, the brewery offers a wide range of bottom-fermented and top-fermented beers, beer mixed drinks, and lemonades. A notable product is the non-alcoholic malt drink Karamalz, which is distributed nationally and, along with Vitamalz from Krombacher, is a market leader in its segment. In January, Eichbaum announced a partnership with the privately-owned Brauerei C.& A. Veltins for the national distribution of the non-alcoholic drink in retail and gastronomy, maintaining a long-standing friendly relationship  between the families. (, 25.1.2024)

However, the brewery's export business to Western and Eastern Europe and overseas has long been stronger than its national business, amounting to around 1 million hectoliters. This makes Eichbaum one of the largest export beer breweries in Germany.

In addition to beer sold under the Eichbaum brand and various private labels (including Apostelbräu, Germania, Gerstel, Steam Brew, Wild Monkey), the brewery also markets the malt drink Karamalz, which is very successful abroad under the name Karamalta with a slightly modified recipe and branding.


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