Andreas Seufert has been around the world – only to return to the Rhön Mountains, where he founded a brewery five years ago. Its name is kind of a souvenir from his travels: Pax Bräu
Isn’t it crazy how sometimes you have to travel so far to find something that is so close? The name for his brewery in Oberelsbach in der Röhn (a village with only 3000 inhabitants in the middle of nowhere… well, kind of close to Fulda and Schweinfurth) was found in Laos. Or more precisely, his girlfriend thought of the name while they backpacked through Southeast Asia back in 2007. That included spending a lot of time in random busses, and even more time in bus stops sitting and waiting. Once they sat in Pakse. Sounds like Pax. The Latin word for peace. Exactly what they were both looking for. The slogan for Seufert’s own brewery already existed in his head: ”Let us forge swords into taps” – Pax Bräu brewery.
The Pax-motto started as a toast
“My first day at brewing school was on September 11, 2001. The start of a new era in terms of security policy. Discussions about war and peace arose. Even among us budding brewmasters”, tells Seufert. “One evening in the pub, where we’d usually process what happened in the brewing that day, one of the guys shared this toast: ,Therefore let us forge swords into taps; drink for peace.’ And then I thought to myself: That’s profound. I’m going to remember it. And should I ever found a brewery, that shall be my motto.” It would take a while for this to happen, also requiring him to travel a far distance before returning home, to the Rhön Mountains, for good to brew. He worked as a brewer in Vietnam, started the operations at some big breweries in Russia and South Africa, was in South Korea and Turkey, and finally worked a while in China. Once this final assignment was over, in 2009, he decided to become self-employed. Properly. And it was completely different from what he had foreseen: ”When there are more metering pumps than production pumps in a brewery, and there are phosphoric acids, lactic acids and enzymes mixed into the beer, and it’s all about lowering production times, because time is money. That’s not my cup of tea.” he says. Well, okay things might be different in other countries yes. Also they don’t really rely on the “Reinheitsgebot” (German Beer Purity Law), but the big German brewers are the same. First comes profit, second comes beer, according to Seufert. Problem: Not his cup of tea. Solution: Make his own cup of tea, or beer.
Is the craft beer boom insanely cool? Or is it just insane?
In 2002 he started brewing for himself on a small scale in an old cowshed. In 2004 he started selling a bit of his beer. To people in his area “that don’t wince at a slightly higher price” and to “rogues like me, long-haired and tattooed”, he says. What happened next sounds a bit like the success story of every craft brewery: somehow it all went through the roof very quickly. Such high demand. And always increasing. While talking about this, the brewer seems to not be quite sure whether he thinks this is insanely cool or just insane. No question, there is a downside to this: “I don’t know how long somebody is able to survive working sixty to eighty hours a week”, says Seufert. “Also, I got two little kids that don’t get to see me that often. I’d like to change that.” His father and uncle help out at the brewery. The latter just turned eighty. “And neither of them is able to brew. So what happens if I can’t be there…?” Seufert hired his first apprentice in autumn. Andreas Seufert started with a smoked ale and a wheat beer. Right after that, he wanted to brew a pale ale. And a stout. Or a porter? Witbeer! Something sour? Or spiced beer? Honey! “The brewing capacity at my brewery is very limited. I can’t brew six or seven styles throughout the entire year.” And that’s how the idea of the Pax Bräu brewery beer calendar was born. A new beer for every month. By now this is kind of the Pax-USP. And it’s a clever subscription model too, something for aficionados and fans. It works well. Regardless, every September Seufert hates himself and his brilliant idea once again. “Every time I sit down to write the brochure for the calendar, I think, I should have stayed with “Helles” (a.k.a. German Pilsner),” he says and laughs.
- Pax Bräu Brewery
Andreas Seufert, Oberelsbach
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- Most popular beer
Cissy – IPA, Black Gold – Lakritz Oatmeal Stout, Vollbier