“Don Limone” Gets Newcomers off to a Flying Start

Fotoserie / photographic series "MuenchnerMacher"
© Munich Brew Mafia // The brewing process of Citra pilsner "Don Limone"

Here on the drinktec blog, we regularly take a look at the most impressive newcomers to the craft beer scene. This time we’d like to introduce an innovative Munich-based startup called “Munich Brew Mafia”, which will be showcasing its creative beers, including its highly successful “Don Limone” pilsner, at the place2beer exhibition in hall B1.

“Munich Brew Mafia” is still very much in its infancy. Only a year ago, 27-year-old Dario Stieren was still learning the brewery trade at one of the oldest brewing universities in the world, the Technical University of Munich’s Weihenstephan campus. Today he is a qualified brewer and beer sommelier, and director of his very own company. His business partner and friend of many years Niklas Zerhoch is currently studying for his bachelor’s degree. Nonetheless, the two entrepreneurs from Munich have made a flying start over the past year and this team of newcomers is already one of the most popular on the German craft beer scene. What’s more, their reputation is growing rapidly on the international stage, with their products on sale both in Germany and abroad.

A Longstanding passion for all kinds of unusual beers

To say these two brewers from Bavaria were born with their love of beer may be a tad over the top, but Stieren and 29-year-old Zerhoch are nothing short of true experts. Back when they were just 16 and all their school friends were still drinking fizzy pop, the two beer lovers were already dabbling with exciting beer types and these early tastings and brewing experiments ignited their passion. They have worked part-time at the Tap House–the most renowned craft beer bar in Munich–for many years and these jobs have given them access to an ever-changing selection of over 200 beers from around the world. What better opportunity to expand their knowledge by regularly sampling the latest beers?

From home brewers to award winners

“Munich Brew Mafia” was born from the humble beginnings of the home brewer. Before Stieren and Zerhoch succeeded in bringing their first beer to market, they spent six years perfecting their hobby in their home kitchens. The first major beer launched by “Munich Brew Mafia” was a 5.3% pilsner called “Don Limone”, which is flavored four times with an American hop variety called Citra. Both in the craft beer industry and beyond, the selection of raw ingredients–from aroma and bittering hops to different malts and yeasts–is vital to the brewing process. There are countless options to combine different processes with new and classic ingredients. Once the Munich pair even decided to shoot the beer through a hops cannon in order to enhance the flavor! The result was the light blonde pilsner with a deliciously fresh, grassy flavor and notes of lemon and orange zest that, to this day, remains the flagship beer for the startup’s wide offering.

The young creative pair have since impressed the craft beer industry with more than five other varieties. Their “Habemus Cervesiam”–described as a smoky Dubbel–won the gold medal at the “Meiningers International Craft Beer Award”–the most highly regarded craft beer awards in Germany, which are also incidentally sponsored by drinktec.

The “Munich Brew Mafia” does not currently have its own brewery, so Stieren and Zerhoch produce their beers in the Camba Old Factory in Gundelfingen, Bavaria. This facility provides all the equipment needed for the brewing process and can be used by brewers who do not have their own machinery. It’s a good option, as Stieren explains: “It means we can produce our beers ourselves, without anyone else getting involved.”

New beers and a wealth of flavors

Stieren and Zerhoch love to surprise their fans with new beers so, in addition to the current range, visitors to drinktec can also look forward to trying another very special beer. All beers from “Munich Brew Mafia” will be available for tasting at place2beer–the meeting place for all beer lovers. The exhibition will play host to the most creative and exciting newcomers from the craft beer scene, who will happily welcome you to their stands to talk about their projects and latest brews. Located in hall B1, it is the place to be if you are passionate about unusual beers and the raw ingredients used to create them. On display will be a wide range of aroma and bittering hops, standard and specials malts, and malt extracts–but that is not all; yeast too will take center stage at drinktec, as although often overlooked, this key ingredient contributes up to 80% of the flavors. There will also be live tasting sessions and panel discussions on hot topics such as “women and beer” and “beer and food.” An overview of what’s on can be found in the drinktec events program database.

Mareike Hasenbeck

Mareike Hasenbeck is a freelance journalist with her own craft beer blog (Feiner Hopfen), she is also a beer sommelier and an international expert for beer sensory certified by the DLG (German Agricultural Society).