What Makes the Most-Awarded Brewery in Germany so Unique

The Schwarzbräu brewery – Individual, traditional, and modern


The idyllic market town of Zusmarshausen, near Augsburg in Southern Germany, is an important center for the art of brewing. The Schwarzbräu brewery located there has been family-owned for generations. Its independence is just one of the things that make it special.

The origins of the Schwarzbräu brewery can be traced back to 1648. After one of the last battles of the Thirty Years War the victorious Swedish troops drank all of the beer available at the brewery, which was then called “At the green tree”. The image of a standard-bearer from this era has since become the logo of today’s Schwarzbräu brewery, which has been family-owned since 1871. In 1927 Konrad Schwarz Senior took the helm and dedicated his life to the art of beer brewing, a position which has since been passed on from generation to generation.

Quality before quantity

The Schwarzbräu brewery only uses hops from the region. If there is a good harvest of the hops the excess is stored for the coming year. The increased costs are of no consequence. Brew master Hubert Wadislohner explains that maximizing the profit is not the first priority at Schwarzbräu. For him the most important thing is that the customers can enjoy the familiar taste and consistently high quality of his beers. The water used in the brewing process comes from the brewery’s own well, which is 70 meter deep and taps into water from the last ice age. The beer yeast used also belongs to the Schwarzbräu brewery. It is a pure yeast produced from strictly controlled strains. To achieve a large variety of aromas the beers are fermented twice, each time using a different brewer’s yeast.

Hubert Wadislohner
Hubert Wadislohner (Head of Technology and Brewing) and his team put quality before quantity

Their own malt house

Besides water, hops, and yeast the fourth important main ingredient in beer brewing is the malt. Schwarzbräu is one of only a handful of breweries in Germany that produces dark malt and pale malt from barley at their own malt house for their own use. What is special about this? It means that the brewery’s entire demand for malt can be met and no malt needs to be purchased. It will hardly come as a surprise to hear that the malt comes from regional producers. And at Schwarzbräu the beer is allowed a fifth ingredient: Time. First the barley is cooled and aired in storage and then  after the dormancy period has passed the malt is processed.

Barley is made into pale and dark malt in the brewery’s own malt house

Craft beer since 1648

From the very start, Schwarzbräu brewery was committed to the values which are now experiencing a renaissance as part of the craft beer trend. That can be seen in the large variety of beers and specialties brewed. It may be, for example, that a particular brew and therefore a particular beer type is only produced once a year. Schwarzbräu is living proof that there is a lot of room for creativity within the strict regulations of the German Beer Purity Law. The portfolio ranges from the well-known “Exquisit” to pilsners, pale, light and dark beers, and also wheat beers, beer mixtures, and seasonal specialties such as the “Snow bock”.

Almost all of the beers, both bottom-fermented and top-fermented, have won awards. In 1954 Schwarzbräu became the first German brewery to receive the first prize and the “Croix d’Honneur” at the world exhibition in Brussels. Since then the number of awards received has increased steadily. Today, Schwarzbräu’s 500 awards make it the most-awarded brewery in Germany.

Independence is the key to success

Independence plays a decisive role at Schwarzbräu. It makes many things possible, such as the care taken when selecting the raw materials, investments made in just the right areas, and the time and calmness which are required for precision and constant improvements. All this contributes to the uniqueness of the family-run brewery. However, individuality and solidarity can go hand-in-hand. Schwarzbräu is a member of an organization called “The free brewer”, which is a group of 40 family-run breweries in Germany, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Austria. This group of very different breweries are all facing similar challenges. By exchanging experiences, sharing know-how, or making bulk purchases the group aims to compensate for the disadvantages they experience compared to large concerns.

State-of-the-art measuring technology for the highest quality

Schwarzbräu also relies on good partnerships in quality control. The laboratory and process instruments from Anton Paar play an important role here. The latest acquisition is an L-Dens 417 density sensor, which is used in the brewhouse. The brew masters were looking for a way to measure the original extract without errors. After a number of attempts they decided to install the sensor in the transfer pipe in order to carry out the measurement before the hops is added. With L-Dens 417 the great benefit is that it does not need to be calibrated. This simplifies the work even though the beer types at Schwarzbräu are often seldom brewed The brewers also value the continuous documentation and traceability of the measuring results.

L-Dens 417 density sensor
The L-Dens 417 density sensor is used to measure the original extract in the brewhouse

The L-Dens 417 sensor was installed with an additional mounting support to give the pipe more stability. This good manual work is appreciated on all levels at Schwarzbräu. In these times of dominance by large brewing conglomerates, the reliable and innovative measuring technology from Anton Paar will continue to support the Schwarzbräu brewery in keeping with the spirit of the times and producing beer which customers value highly.

Schwarzbraeu
The traditional brewery “Schwarzbräu” in Zusmarshausen, Germany

The Schwarzbräu brewery

Founded: 1648
Employees: 74
No. of beers/beer mixtures: 25
Production of a number of lemonades, juices, spritzers, and mineral water under the brand “ALASKA”
Awards: 495

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