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Felix Gmachl and his world of beer

Honest, authentic, drinkable – this is what the newest generation of Salzburg beers is all about. Marketed under the simply-yet-resonant name “Salzburger”, Felix Gmachl, Brewmaster of the wheat-beer brewery in Salzburg, has created a crisp Märzen. Here’s an interview with the 30-year-old brewer about his latest creation.

“Salzburger” is a very auspicious name for a beer. But what kind of beer is it exactly?

You know, even the packaging is intended to express its special character. And it aims to appeal to people directly. The taste is unique and almost impossible to compare. In “beer speak”, I’d say it has a very slim body, finished off by an understated bouquet of hops.

Why go for a Märzen beer?

Märzen is by far the most popular beer consumed by Austrians, representing around 70 percent of total production. Needless to say, this sector is firmly controlled by the major industrial breweries. The smaller, more creative businesses simply didn’t see a market in Märzen, and instead went in the direction of specialty craft beers. My take on things was a little different: I wanted a very drinkable beer, one that would also entice you into enjoying a second. The whole aspect of hops and, above all, the hops aroma was also something I wanted to address in this Märzen. And that’s exactly what we managed to do, integrating a very pleasant-yet-understated bouquet of hops into the finished product.

Where and how is “Salzburger hell” brewed?

At the Salzburger Weissbierbrauerei, which is, incidentally, the oldest wheat-beer brewery in Austria. Last year, the brewery underwent extensive renovations, which we also took advantage of to adapt a vat for bottom fermentation, making it possible for us to produce a regional Märzen beer for the people of Salzburg for the very first time.

A beer for Salzburgers?

Absolutely. Our target group is clearly Salzburg locals. Though also, of course, for anyone else who has a real appreciation for an honestly brewed and very drinkable Märzen beer from an artisanal brewery.

From your perspective, what do you see as the major differences between “artisanal” and “industrial” in the brewing world?

For me, it’s really important to use high-quality raw ingredients from Austria and the region. But it’s just as vital to give the beer the time it needs. Our Märzen, for example, is allowed to mature up to ten times longer than what’s typical in an industrial operation. But we afford ourselves this “luxury” because, ultimately, in our eyes that’s what makes the big difference.

Clever, sexy, authentic, cheeky?

We came up with the name “Salzburger” sitting around a table enjoying a good time with some friends. Plus, we’re simply not looking to dictate what the advertising message has to be. That’s why we leave lots of space on the label for our consumers to impose their own imagination on “their” beer. You know, sometimes understatement is the most powerful statement of all.

Your “Salzburger” in just a few words?

Artisanal, honest, and authentically “Salzburg”.

Interview: Alexandra Hawel (Top of Salzburg)