The Rhaner Brewery is a traditional brewery from Bavaria that truly deserves the name: Based in a small village in the district of Cham in the Upper Palatinate, it is not only the oldest family brewery in Eastern Bavaria. It is also one of the 15 oldest companies in Germany and one of the five oldest breweries in the world that have been brewing beer without a break from the time it was founded until today.
Traditional brewery Rhaner from Bavaria has been brewing since 1283
The tradition, which spans more than seven centuries, brings with it a number of superlatives – doesn’t that sometimes feel like a burden? “Not at all!” Head brewer Stefanie Plößl laughs charmingly at the question and immediately follows up with the reason: “We love and live the tradition.” The fact that there is hardly a weekend without obligations – here a church fair, there a club festival that needs to be attended – is part of everyday life for the Plößl family. Dr. Alois Plößl has been managing director of Rhanerbräu since 1997; his family joined the company in 1776. In the meantime, Plößl, together with his wife Stefanie, is the twelfth generation to manage the traditional brewery from Bavaria.
The credo is: “Always be open to new things!”
According to Stefanie Plößl, tradition is the foundation of the company. Which does not mean that one rests on it. “We are always looking ahead,” emphasizes the head brewer. And this is precisely where she sees the secret of Rhanerbräu’s success: “We know our strengths and concentrate on our core area. But we are always open to new things!” Rhanerbräu has proven this in many ways over the past decades.
Success with craft beers from “Rhaner beer manufacture”
A traditional brewery from Bavaria with almost 750 years of history brewing craft beer?! The Plößl family proves that this is not a contradiction. It started a good ten years ago with two unusual bock beers – the Maxi-Bock and the Lilly-Bock, named after the two Plößl children – the division with special craft beers has now developed into its own branch of the company as the “Rhaner Biermanufaktur” (“Rhaner beer manufacture”). Here, too, the brewing history always resonates: the modern craft beer varieties are named after significant dates in the history of the brewery.
The creative beer varieties from Rhaner are not only popular in the regional craft beer scene. “We are even represented in one of Regensburg’s top restaurants. Even one or two village innkeepers serve our craft beer,” Stefanie Plößl is pleased to mention. Tradition meets the modern age – Rhanerbräu shows how it’s done! And the new craft beer division at Rhaner already has a superlative of its own: Rhaner Pale Märzen 1904 RPM made it to the top of the winner’s podium at Meininger’s International Craft Beer Award – it won the golden award in the “Lager New Style” category in 2019.
Resource-saving technology pays off
The entrepreneurial activities of this traditional brewery from Bavaria are also characterized by a love for innovation and a look toward the future in the area of technology. By investing in a wood chip heating system, Rhaner became self-sufficient in fossil fuels 15 years ago. And here, too, they have created another superlative: Since 2009, the brewery site has been adorned with the original six-meter-high structure of the biomass heating system, the “largest beer case in the world”.
Sustainable business continues to be at the top of Rhanerbräu’s agenda for the future. “To stay on the ball, you always have to invest,” Stefanie Plößl knows. Nowadays, breweries that miss the boat would be left behind faster than ever. The biomass heating system and a photovoltaic system are therefore to be followed by other measures that will take Rhaner further forward in terms of resource and environmentally friendly production. The installation of a CO2 recovery system is already being planned. The cooling system will soon be one of the last areas to be converted to being completely CO2-neutral. In addition, a larger heating and cooling buffer is to be installed in the brewhouse to improve heat recovery so that the brewery can work independently of seasonal and temporal regenerative sources.
Traditional brewery from Bavaria sells “Festbier dahoam” in the party keg
Stefanie Plößl makes no secret of the fact that the enormous price increases and the lack of predictability in many areas also cause her family to have qualms. However, a look back at the long and eventful history of the traditional brewery from Bavaria always leads her to the certain conviction: “Somehow it will always go on.”
Especially when you adjust to adversity and make the best of it. As in 2020, when the Rhaner festival beer for the coming season had already been brewed and matured in the storage tank – and then, all of a sudden, all parish fairs, celebrations and club parties were canceled by Corona. Shortly before Father’s Day, the Plößl family came up with the idea of bottling and selling their brew in 5-liter cans for the first time as “Rhaner Festbier dahoam” (“Rhaner home festival beer”). What began on a trial basis with a pallet full of Envases minikegs hit the customers like a bomb: “We were sold out within a week,” recalls Stefanie Plößl. The “Rhaner Festbier dahoam” in the 5-liter party keg is so popular that it has remained firmly in the range even after Corona and can now also be found on the shelves of supermarkets and beverage retailers in the region.
Son Max is Germany’s best brewing trainee
It was incidentally son Max (see photo at the top) who had the idea for the “Rhaner Festbier dahoam” in the mini-keg, and he is already in the starting blocks as the 13th generation of the traditional brewery from Bavaria. The trained brewer and maltster is currently saddling up for a degree at the Technical University of Munich before he, too, wants to make a real start in the family business. By the way, the 22-year-old from Upper Palatinate completed his apprenticeship last year with a grade of 1.0 as the best brewing apprentice in Germany. There is simply no end to the superlatives at Rhaner…