A revolution on the beer market? It is not yet entirely clear what will become of the brand-new product development from the Neuzeller Klosterbrauerei in Brandenburg. Will the driest beer in the world pulverize the existing beer market? Managing Director Stefan Fritsche’s idea hits the nerve of the times and is likely to get on the nerves of the established large breweries. In terms of taste, the beer powder is still far from being ready for the market. What is impressive, however, is the resource-saving approach: instead of glass bottles and liquid, only beer powder is transported, which only turns into beer at its destination.
Beer without brewing process
Since reunification and the takeover by the Fritsche family, the product range of the Neuzelle Monastery Brewery has expanded considerably. In addition to Neuzeller Pilsner and the bestseller Schwarzer Abt, a black beer with a long tradition, there is a large selection of craft beers such as Kirschbier with the cherry mother juice of the sour cherry or an anti-aging beer with the addition of brine water, algae and flavonoids.
As a plaintiff, the Neuzelle monastery brewery had already won the production of special beers against the state of Brandenburg in 2005 in a legal dispute that lasted 13 years, the so-called Beer War. But how times change. The state of Brandenburg, which was once the defendant, has now become a promoter of the beer powder idea. Stirred with water, the powder recreates the perfect beer taste. The basic ingredients malt, hops, yeast, but also oxygen and alcohol are to be contained once in the powder. Together with water, a drinkable beer is then created. In the vision of Stefan Fritsche, who has taken over the management of the Neuzell Monastery Brewery from his father, the powder is to be a variable basic substance in which the taste, hoppiness and alcohol content can be adjusted. The classic brewing process is eliminated.
Dry beer to combat climate change
Stefan Fritsche wears the slogan for the new way of making beer in gold letters on a black hoodie. Dryest Beer – brewing – for Nature. The feasibility study, which was completed in early 2023, was funded by the EU and the state of Brandenburg. By saving on transportation, a significant contribution against climate change is obvious. 500 ml of liquid is compared with 45 g of powder. The powder accounts for only about ten percent of a bottle’s contents. Delivery costs and volume are significantly reduced. “Glass and water remain on site,” says Stefan Fritsche, “the time is ripe to put classic beer production and its logistics to the test.” In cooperation with research institutes in Austria and Finland, the first batches have now been produced that prove the feasibility of a beer powder. Stefan Fritsche is optimistic. In addition to criticism and reservations, there are also initial voices from the brewers’ association, which at least describe the idea as interesting.
A giga factory á la Tesla?
Stefan Fritsche is now looking for investors for the next steps. His plan is to build a giga-factory in the style of Amazon or Tesla. The goal, says Fritsche, is to export the beer powder around the world and compete with the big beer brands. Media interest in the beer powder from Neuzelle is already huge. Inquiries from all over the world are reaching him as if he had found the formula for turning lead into gold. In October 2022, he experienced an almost distopic situation, says Fritsche. It was the height of uncertainty in questions of energy supply. Worried that the Neuzelle monastery brewery would soon have to stop production for lack of affordable energy, he went public with his product innovation earlier than planned.
Research and market readiness
The precious beer powder, into the production of which 400,000 euros in research funds have gone, is running low. Accordingly, Stefan Fritsche doses the tasting quantities per glass sparingly. This batch still lacks the components alcohol and oxygen. Fritsche helps the latter with a milk frother. First, the powder floats on the water. In addition to a balanced taste, Stefan Fritsche admits that work still needs to be done to improve solubility. But he and his brewmaster Peik Schauermann are optimistic. In the near future, all the necessary beer ingredients will be combined in one powder and will shake up the international beer market.
Stefan Fritsche is clearly enjoying developing this disruptive technology for the beer market and is looking forward to challenging the established big players. Tesla, he says, was also ridiculed at first. It will take at least another year before it is ready for the market, he estimates. The next step on the road to becoming a big player in a reimagined beer market is getting investors on board. Taste will decide whether beer powder without a brewing process will replace current manufacturing processes. Price will not decide this battle, as the purchase price of powder beer and bottled beer will be comparable. Definitely, the powder beer will have the far leaner CO2 footprint on its way to the consumer. The prototype from the Neuzelle monastery brewery, which Stefan Fritsche spontaneously brewed in the office, already has a stable head and the basic taste of the beer can be guessed at.