Innovation and Fighting Spirit at the Brew Kettle

many glasses on a table

Bright green hop juice, a beer made using wine yeast, and chai tea: Once a year, students at the Technical University of Munich in Weihenstephan unleash their creative potential in an innovation competition. Recently, they have presented their ideas in front of a panel of prestigious judges.

Of course, drinktec is in the jury: Lisa Naetscher critically tests one of the beers.

Of course, drinktec has a seat in the jury: Lisa Naetscher critically tests one of the beers.

This is the fourth time that, students from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have competed to find the most ground breaking idea. Courageous creators can demonstrate their inventive abilities in the Innovation Competition for Food and Beverages (IGL) organized by the Faculty for Brewing and Food Technology. The competition was launched by the university to give students a space where they could let their imaginations run wild. The only restriction being that all brainstorming and realization of these ideas must take place in their spare time. Participating teams are paired with professionals from the relevant industries or fields of research for support. They work together to develop the most innovative food and beverages possible, as well as the associated marketing strategy. The results are presented to a panel of select judges, who then decide the winning team.

Just one of the many beers that were tested: a dark beer flavored with vanilla.

Just one of the many beers that were tested: a dark beer flavored with vanilla.

The qualifying round for IGL 2016 took place in a seminar room at TUM last week. The organizers of the competition have reported that this year’s entries are increasingly professional compared to previous years. What’s more, the design, presentation, and overall concept of the product are all subject to the panels scrutiny. This year, the beer category once again saw the presentation of very exciting creations. They included a beer brewed with wine yeast, a cherry wood smoked pale ale, and a wintry mulled beer that is served warm. Other beer-based beverages included a wheat beer combined with chai tea and also a dark beer flavored with vanilla and coffee. In the non-alcoholic drinks segment, students experimented with licorice, eucalyptus, mint, and flavored tonics.

Unfortunately, we cannot yet reveal which of these creations made it into the final. The potential winners now have some time to refine their ideas and implement the jury’s suggestions for improvements to ensure that they impress in the final round. Some of the winners of past competitions have gone on to successfully launch their products on the market. Among those are the premium beer “Cerevisium,” which is brewed using the champagne method, “Babo Blue,” a mixed beer beverage with added forest berries, and “Rubin Royal,” a hybrid of beer and wine. A detailed profile of this year’s winners will be provided on the drinktec blog once they have been announced. The organizers all agree that the competition’s inventions could go on to have an impact on the beverage industry.

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).