Craft brewers are a mixed bunch – and can be very interesting to talk to. BESTMALZblog was at the “Braukunst Live” trade fair, where we talked to Dario Stieren, a young craft brewer, who says that his Munich Brew Mafia makes “beer with an exciting taste that is pleasant to drink.”
BESTMALZblog: Why did you start brewing beer? Is there a story behind it?
Dario Stieren: When I was 16, I wanted to leave home and become a brewer, but my mother told me to finish high school first. During military service, I found out that you can even study brewing. No sooner said than done! After I started the course, I began to home brew together with my mate Niklas Zerhoch, who is now head of sales at our company. During that time, we came up with the recipe for my first commercial beer “Don Limone”, among others. As I was involved in the craft beer scene and worked at the Tap House in Munich for four years, news of my first beer spread pretty fast. At the time, I was on holiday with my girlfriend, now my wife, in Egypt. As a result, I spent half the time in Internet cafés. Since then, I know what it means to be self-employed.
BESTMALZblog: What is important for your work as a brewer? What matters most?
Dario Stieren: All my beers are a blend of tradition and innovation. My maxim as a craft brewer is: You need creativity, endurance, technical know-how and a high frustration tolerance when things don’t go as planned.
BESTMALZblog: What is your favorite beer from your own product range? And from other brewers?
Dario Stieren: We only brew beers that meet our quality and sensory standards. During Lent, our strong beer Dolce Vita is very popular. But I also enjoy drinking beer made by other brewers. Regardless of whether it is a classical lager or a spontaneously fermented cherry beer from an oak barrel, as long as it tastes good and is well crafted, I can get fired up about it.
BESTMALZblog: Have you had any disasters – has the brew or the beer ever gone wrong?
Dario Stieren: The very first beer I brewed was meant to be an Alt beer. My father often talked about this beer style, but I had never tried it myself. As this kind of beer is not common here, I thought I would make it myself! Due to “technical contradictions”, my colleague Niklas and I poured twice the amount of malt into the mash tun by mistake. The result was a double Alt with 9%. Still, my Dad liked it – maybe for exactly that reason.
BESTMALZblog: What is your tip for a perfect beer?
Dario Stieren: A perfect beer needs a blend of passion and madness. My beers are good because I put a lot of time and effort into developing the recipes. I even dream about my recipes sometimes and try them out until the beer is exactly what I want. Our “Kriminelles Helles” probably went through the longest testing period. It took 4 1/2 years to develop and will finally come onto the market soon.
BESTMALZblog: Do you have a motto?
Dario Stieren: Everything that tastes good is allowed. I make crazy beers. But however crazy a beer is, it must be drinkable and taste good. Otherwise there are no limits.
BESTMALZblog: Thank you for talking to us, Dario!
At the trade fair, the Mafia presented its beers including “La Dolce Vita”, a dark lager that resulted from collaboration with Varionica, a craft brewery from Zagreb.