For the blog series of Culinary Craft Tours, Katja Zaunberger answered my questions about her education, her passion for brewing beer and her experiences in the male domain of beer.
When did your fascination with brewing beer begin?
Around the 8th or 9th. Class; from then on it was slowly about the question of what you want to be and somehow I got stuck on the subject of drinks. This has always been one of my passions as a child.
However, I don't think anyone would have tried my "drinks" made from leaves, stream water and other ingredients that you find outside as a child.
During my apprenticeship, I became more and more enthusiastic about high-quality beers from regional breweries that were as small as possible.
Can you tell me something about the course of your training?
From September 2015 to January 2018 I completed my training as a brewer and maltster at Storchenbräu Pfaffenhausen. Here I was able to learn everything you need for your job and what you need as a good companion. And that too in 2.5 years instead of the regular 3 years.
What was and is unique is the amount of knowledge and activity I was taught at this small regional brewery.
From March 2018 to August 2020 I spent my companionship at Rugenbräu in Interlaken in Switzerland. This is where things really got going: my daily tasks included everything to do with beer as well as the first insights into whisky and gin production as well as one or two excursions into the organizational activities of the brewery.
From September 2020 to July 2022, I was then trained full-time as a brewing and beverage technologist as well as a master brewer at Doemens.
In August 2022 I came to the Starkenberg brewery in Imst.
How did the almost exclusively male beer brewing world react to you? how did you fare among all the men?
During my apprenticeship it wasn't always easy, but not because the men had some kind of prejudice or something. Rather, that the physical conditions are a little different. However, this problem can be mitigated a little over time, as you can also use techniques or techniques. Tricks have been developed to make work easier. In addition, going to the gym often helps to strengthen the back muscles. But in general, working with men is often easier. Although I have to say that I was always lucky in the companies, in my training company, for example, I had a very nice colleague. However, the "war" in the vocational school was already different.
What are your favorite beer styles?
There is no real favourite, as every beer style has its own special charm when brewing.
However, I find wheat beer/wheat quite impressive, as you can really observe the fermentation in real time. With the open fermentation vats, you can experience the progress of fermentation with all your senses. Here at the Starkenberger Brewery, I prefer to brew the Heimatbier or the Bock.
What were your motivations for joining the Starkenberger Brewery?
The decisive factor in going to Starkenberger Brewery was the proximity to home. Since I am an absolute family man, the possibility to spontaneously "quickly" go home to family and friends during the week is very important to me.
Name: Katja Zaunberger
Age: soon to be 25 (or as they say in the Allgäu: an old box)
Hobbies: club football, motorcycling, skiing, hiking, sport shooting