Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Oh, Oh It’s Magic, You Know

Zauber Brewing Company

Water, hops, barley, and yeast are the basic ingredients found in any beer, but according to Cameron Lloyd, head brewer at Zauber Brewing Company, an often overlooked yet fundamental factor in producing craft beer is a touch of magic. I recently sat down with Cameron to discuss the history behind one of Columbus’ newest breweries, talk about the future envisioned for business, and uncover what sets Zauber apart in our rapidly expanding local craft beer scene.

Before founder and brew master Geoff Towne could utter a single “abracadabra” and open the doors to his microbrewery and beer garden style taproom, both he and Cameron studied to become certified brew masters. Prior to their brewing days, the pair were formally educated on opposite side of the globe, with Geoff taking classes at UC-Davis in California and Cameron in Berlin, Germany. Although they were studying at different times, their programs paralleled one another; emphasizing science, technology, business, and microbiology. Geoff spent a semester living in Austria then travelled throughout Central Europe and found his love of German beers growing with every sip of hefenweizen, kolsch, and dopplebock. Once classes came to an end he secured a position with Great Lakes Brewing Company in Cleveland, later moving to The Boston Beer Co. (Sam Adams) in Cincinnati. It was 2012 when Cameron, swayed by his love of and knack for home brewing, bid farewell to his teaching career and move to Berlin. Once Cameron completed his coursework in Germany he returned home to the U.S. and honed his skills working for breweries outside of Ohio, including August Schell, the 2nd oldest family owned brewery in America. It was during these formative years of education and brewing experience that the stage was set for the beer gods cast their spell and bring these two connoisseurs together.

It was 2012, the same year that Cameron made his way to Germany, when Geoff made the decision to walk away from the macro brewery concept and open a place where he could hand craft and showcase the beers he fell in love with during his travels. Zauber, translating to “magic” in German, was the name chosen for the brewery, not only conveying that the main focus is on German-style brews, but also to hint at the mystery and magic that occurs during the brewing process. Zauber was conceived as a small, alley-side growler filling station which has since matured into a full scale brewing operation, including an adjoining taproom space which debuted just last year. It was 2014 when Cameron joined forces with Geoff as Zauber’s head brewer, bringing an interesting philosophy with him. Cameron contends that, “As brewers we don’t actually make beer. Yeast makes beer and we just make food for yeast”. He points out that you need to have faith in your ingredients to do what you want them to, but at the same time you have to be willing to accept that even if you work with the same measurements and recipes there is no guarantee that your end product will be exactly the same each run. It is this mindset which has guided Zauber’s growth from its humble beginnings to producing 40 kegs of craft brew each week.

Both Geoff and Cameron have a taste for German and Belgian beers which possess an American crafty twist, so it is no coincidence these are the exact styles of brew you’ll find at Zauber. Drawing inspiration from Europe, the West Coast, and our great state of Ohio, Zauber beers hybridize styles and play up selected flavors and notes creating a niche for them in the craft brewing market of Central Ohio. Several of their offerings are always on tap, including Vertigo Hefenweizen and Buxom Blonde, but they also offer limited-release seasonal brews such as Oktoberfest and Kitschy Kolsch. After completion of a planned expansion that will happen towards the end of 2015, Zauber hopes to increase production and start canning beer in order to allow them to tap into the retail market. At the end of the day, brewing a great beer may not be as simple as waving a wand over a top hat and chanting “hocus pocus”, but Zauber is doing something magical as they brew beer worthy of raising a glass and toasting with a hearty Prost!


The Zauber Brewing Company Vertigo Hefenweizen (pictured left) traveled 0 miles to Columbus, while the hefenweizen (pictured right) traveled over 4,200+ miles to Columbus.

In order for a beer to be dubbed a hefenweizen in Germany, it needs to be more than 50% wheat malt, which gives the beer its characteristic fullness and body. At Zauber, not only is their Vertigo Hefenweizen over 50% wheat, but they use a traditional Bavarian yeast strain which gives off notes of banana, clove, and vanilla.


A Beginner's Guide to German Beer Styles

Hefenweizen Banana Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting

Click on the recipe cards to print your copy: