Germany: Krombacher buys minority interest in promising Bavarian craft brewery

Krombacher Brauerei, producer of Germany’s leading namesake beer brand, has bought a minority interest in one of the most promising Bavarian craft breweries.Starnberger Brauhaus was founded in 2015 aTegernseernd started production one year later in its brand-new 10,000 hl brewery in Berg, a small village on Lake Starnberg 35 km south-west of Bavaria’s capital Munich. The new brand Starnberger gained quickly ground by mimicking the even more successful brand , originating from an allegedly nearly 1,000 year old brewery which is owned by the family of Max, Duke in Bavaria and which is located on nearby Lake Tegernsee.

When it became clear that the brand Starnberger outgrew its brewery, the owner Florian Schuh and his partner Karl-Heinz Krawczyk decided to build a new and much bigger brewery on the opposite side of the lake in Feldafing. To help finance their venture and to secure distribution of the additional production they allied with the Schadeberg family, which owns and runs Germany’s biggest and most successful brewery Krombacher.

Krombacher already produces a large portfolio of beers and non-alcoholic drinks but is lacking so far due to its location in north rhine-westphalia an authentical Bavarian beer brand. Therefore the new alliance is a win-win solution for both partners.

The groundbreaking ceremony of the new brewery in Feldafing took place on Friday."Completion is planned for early summer 2021," says Schuh.The total investment in building and brewing equipment is about 10 million euros (USD 11.6m). The new, fully automatic 80 hectoliter brewhouse can produce up to 70,000 hectoliters a year. Starnberger currently produces four different types of beer, “Starnberger Hell ”, the unfiltered and cloudy“Starnberger Spezial ”, the“ Starnberger Weisse ”and a strong bock beer called “Seenator”.

It is planned that in the course of 2021 Krombacher will start selling Starnberger Hell outside of Bavaria. People close to matter believe that Krombacher can sell up to 20,000 hl of the product in the first complete year which would be twice the current annual production.

Starnberger will compete on a national scale in a relatively new but fast growing market which is dominated by established brands like Augustiner. The Munich-based brewery has built up a cult status over many years with their Augustiner Hell, a moderately hopped pale lager, and AugustinerEdelstoff beers. When all major breweries abandoned the Euro bottle for more contemporary bottle shapes, Augustiner and a handful smaller Bavarian breweries like Tegernseer remained faithful to the rather quaint old-style bottles. And this has paid off: Augustiner and Tegernseer have become cult brands and the Euro bottle is associated with Bavarian pale lager beer.

The success of Augustiner and Tegernseer has lured other breweries to launch look-alikes like Bayreuther, Chiemseer, Allgäuer Büble or Mooser Liesl which have all seized pieces of the pie. Starting next year, Krombacher with its national distribution power will be the new pike in the fishpond, chasing all the others.

Terms of the deal and the amount of participation were not disclosed.

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