Bonn The “Craftquelle” in the Altstadt is a specialty store for craft beer lovers, offering 250 different varieties. Owner and beer sommelier Christoph Steinhauer also shares his knowledge with beer enthusiasts in a beer guide.
"More Craft, less Crap" is written on Christoph Steinhauer's T-shirt. Ten years ago, the man from Bonn discovered his passion for craft beer in the U.S. Craft beer is brewed by small microbreweries, eager to experiment with different flavors and brewing techniques. The 56-year-old is now a beer sommelier and owner of the craft beer store “Craftquelle” in the Altstadt (Old Town).
"There is a difference between (what he calls) Kipp beer and Nipp beer," Steinhauer explains. He drinks Kölsch as a thirst quencher in the beer garden or at a sports stadium. A craft beer, on the other hand, the “Nipp” beer (a beer for sipping), is one he drinks in front of the fireplace. "There, I can spend the whole evening with one beer.
Steinhauer bought his first craft beer at a gas station in the U.S. - and of course it was because of the colorful label. "The taste was different from anything we were familiar with from a Pils or a Kölsch," he said. There's a huge craft beer scene in the U.S. with so-called brew pubs, where the wildest beer creations flow out of ten to twenty beer taps, Steinhauer says.
Back in Europe, he opened his own store in the Altstadt in 2018. Steinhauer's main job is as an advertising consultant. But he devotes his free time to his passion: as a consultant in the store, as a hobby brewer or as a trained beer sommelier. "On the final exam, we had to do blind tastings and make beer recommendations to go with an eight-course meal." To this day, he says, he enjoys it when customers come into his store before a New Year's Eve meal looking for the right beer to go with it. "In Belgium, a good restaurant also has an extensive beer menu," Steinhauer says. In Germany, he says, this culture is only slowly developing.
Craft beer fans are always looking for new varieties
But Bonn also has a scene of hobby brewers and craft beer fans who make up Steinhauer's regular clientele. For them, a good third of 250 varieties must always be new, Steinhauer says: "I'm a specialty store." Craft beer lovers are constantly on the lookout for new discoveries, he says. "They'll sometimes pay five or six euros for a can of beer without batting an eyelid.”
So much money for a can of beer? The can protects high-quality craft beer from oxygen and light, says Steinhauer. During his training as a beer sommelier, he learned how to taste flaws in beer, such as the metallic taste of the well-known Becks beer. This occurs when hops change under the influence of light.
Steinhauer teaches the skill of beer tasting as well. Different than at a wine tasting, beer is not spat out. The receptors to taste the bitterness are located at the back of the throat. Steinhauer often hosts events with guests such as musicians or actors. Online tastings during the coronavirus pandemic would not have been financially worthwhile or as much fun.
So Steinhauer used the lockdown for two other projects. He wrote a small beer guide explaining, for example, why craft beer is expensive, and released his first own commercial beer, Rhineland IPA 654, with Coltro Brauerei in Hürth, Germany. Steinhauer is happy to report, "It was a good success."
(Orig. text: Christine Ludewig, Translation: Carol Kloeppel)