An autumnal brew

Many people around the world assume that the relationship with beer is deeply rooted in the DNA of any German. So why not team up with a German brewery to create a special beer for SMWS members? That’s why we joined forces with one of the craft beer pioneers in the German brewing cosmos, as SMWS Germany ambassador Peter Eichhorn explains


From the release of special bottlings, online events and in-person tastings, the SMWS Gathering is back with a bang this September after the events of the past couple of years.

The Gathering is a celebration of the Society’s spirit and what we were born out of almost 40 years ago – a chance to get together with existing friends, and meet up with others who have yet to become friends, over a shared passion for the very best whisky that you can find.

In 2012 Oliver returned to Hamburg and founded Kehrwieder together with his pal, Friedrich ‘Fiete’ Matthies. They started off as roving brewers, producing their brews at different breweries. Their first beer, the aptly-named ‘Prototyp’, was brewed in Denmark and was an instant success in Germany.

The impressive imperial pale lager, a bottom-fermented hoppy beer, is still around today and is considered one of the benchmark beers for the young German craft beer landscape, which has been a couple of years behind countries like the US, Denmark or Italy in embracing IPAs and Imperial Stouts.

“The industrial beers in Germany are too good and too cheap,” says Eric Ottaway, co-owner of Brooklyn Brewery. “There was never an urge to replace lagers tasting like fizzy yellow water.”

In 2013, Oliver won the World Championship of Beer Sommeliers. The competition demands knowledge, good taste buds and a passion for beer. What he proclaimed after he won the prestigious title still stands true for him today: “Living beer culture means sharing the beer experience to surprise and inspire. Beer represents diversity and offers something for everyone and every situation. Beer is not just beer, so it’s my goal to encourage constant exploration and discussion.

Finally in 2014 he found a suitable site to build his own brewery in the south of Hamburg. That meant he was able to control every step in the brewing process himself and did not have to rely on others to manufacture his beers.

He became very popular for his SHIPA (Single Hop India Pale Ale) series. The base IPA is always brewed in an identical way, with only the kind of hop differing. The beers are tasty but also offer the drinker the possibility to encounter and learn about the different classic and modern hop variations. Furthermore, he discovered an old method to produce alcohol-free beer with an almost forgotten yeast type. He developed the üNN (meaning above sea-level) which turned out to be a great beer and a huge success, even being exported to the UK. It was his beer that inspired many other breweries to dive into the topic of alcohol-free brews and today Germany has a great variety through dozens of beer styles.

In 2016 he was one of the founding members of the German creative brewers (Deutsche Kreativbrauer), a group of brewers who are sceptical about the German purity law (Reinheitsgebot) and all the dozens of chemical methods and components that are allowed during the brewing process. Yes, by law there is a lot more allowed in German beer than just water, malt, hops and yeast.

The members of the creative brewers instead ask for a natural law, banning all the chemicals and instead allowing only natural products like fruit, spices, nuts, honey and many other natural ingredients.

This summer we asked Oliver to create a beer especially filled and labelled for The Scotch Malt Whisky Society.

And he gladly agreed. Right in time for the autumnal beer season in Germany, our members will be able to enjoy a fresh hoppy imperial lager, SMWS-style, based on Oliver’s original ‘Prototyp’ recipe. The label celebrates the shared history of the Society’s home in Leith and Hamburg as ports and places of international trading links.

And the story will go on. Oliver has also been working intensely with barrel-aged beer styles and the results are amazing, like the ‘Kehrwieder South Islay’ Imperial Stout that was matured in a Laphroaig cask for nine months.

Without further ado the SMWS sent two barrels from our distillery 53 to Hamburg. Those will be filled with imperial stout and soon be ready for an amazing beer-whisky pairing.

Indeed, the brewer is also a connoisseur when it comes to whisky as the sibling to beer: “Well, whisky is the next relative to beer – just without the hops. Beer will remain my main beverage but luckily, I have quite a few friends who are into whisky and introduced me to a couple of decent drams. And so, a few nice bottles have found their way into my beer cellar.

“And the next barrel-curiosities for beer-aging are waiting there as well.”

The name of the brewery – Kehrwieder – in translation means ‘please come back!’ In Hamburg it is a historic small island, where the wives of the sailors would wave goodbye to the ships leaving the harbour, hoping for the safe return of their loved ones. No wonder, the SMWS members will be back for more from Kehrwieder!

The SMWS Kehrwieder beer will be available in October on https://smws.eu/, with events and pairings planned around Germany.

Find out more about Kehrwieder