Podcast Episode 244: Eric Toft of Schönramer Is Fixated on Consistency, Drinkability, and Character

The Wyoming-born brewmaster of the Private Landbrauerei Schönram in southeastern Bavaria digs into the details of how they brew their captivating, award-winning lagers.

Jamie Bogner Jun 24, 2022 - 4 min read

Podcast Episode 244: Eric Toft of Schönramer Is Fixated on Consistency, Drinkability, and Character Primary Image

Photo: Joe Stange

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The Private Landbrauerei Schönram is one of the most lauded breweries in Germany over the past 15 years, with a tall stack of European Beer Star and World Beer Cup medals to show for its excellence across styles, and for the respect it has earned from peers. Perhaps its most celebrated beers are its Hell—a local staple that accounts for three-fourths of production—and its acclaimed, hop-forward Pils.

Its brewmaster since 1998 has been Eric Toft, who has carefully and gradually fine-tuned each of the brewery’s beers into its current form. In this episode, he focuses especially on his approach to perfecting and brewing a great helles. Among other topics, he discusses:

  • the glacial yet intentional pace of fine-tuning
  • blending hop varieties and harvest years for year-to-year consistency
  • the ins and outs of German hop varieties ideal for lager brewing
  • brewing test batches of single-hopped lager to better know the hops
  • working with smaller, family-run maltsters to get desired specs and hedge risk
  • using less-modified malt to have more control over conversion in the mash
  • employing a decoction mash for higher efficiency and attenuation
  • adjusting mash steps depending on barley specs
  • open fermentation, and powering the brewery’s fermentations with kräusen from the helles
  • finding the perfect lagering time
  • water treatment for helles and other lagers

And more.

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Jamie Bogner is the Cofounder and Editorial Director of Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine®. Email him at [email protected].