Ever since the very first competition, the expert tastings for the European Beer Star competition take place at the Doemens Academy in Gräfelfing near Munich. This is where participating breweries will send their beers. And Björn Bleier will be in charge of taking delivery – and good care of the beers.
Björn Bleier is from Frankonia and he learnt the brewer’s trade from scratch. He completed an apprenticeship at Kulmbacher Brauerei and studied at TUM Weihenstephan. Since 2007 he has worked at Doemens Academy.
Bleier teaches beer preparation technique and mathematics. Moreover, he is the head of the Doemens pilot brewery, part of the advisory team and in charge of support for the European Beer Star.
Here’s Bleier’s summary: “I take delivery of the beers entered in the competition, sort them and store them appropriately. Only then will it be guaranteed that the right beer is placed in front of the right taster at the right time after having been stored right.”
Stage one starts about four weeks before the expert tasting. Bleicher has already done the preparatory work: Numerous coolers are standing in the Doemens yard. None of the beers must grow hot.
Most breweries want their beers to be as fresh as possible when they arrive for the tasting, so half of the entries will only arrive during the three days before the closing date.
Four hundred packages in one day! It has happened but fortunately, it’s not the rule. In the beginning, 30 to 40 packages arrive every day. Then, the number of packages coming in will slowly increase until the “hot phase” starts and 200 to 300 packages daily arrive at Doemens.
Bleiers job: Unpack, sort, check. Stick a tasting number on each bottle and store it in the right cooler.
Customs liaison officer – this is also part of Bleier’s job description. Quite a number of beers which have arrived from afar will need his support, such as missing information he needs to furnish. Otherwise, customs will refuse clearance.
Expert tasting, Stage Two. Bleier directs the team of one hundred helpers. The stewards, all Doemens students, take the beers to the tasters’ tables.
One hour before the tasting starts, the beers are taken out of the coolers. Each glass is marked with a number. The beer is only poured when the tasting begins, so that froth and tingle can be assessed.
The exciting part begins after the preliminary rounds. The beers which recalled have to be found – quickly and precisely.
Photo: Braumeister Björn Bleier, Leiter der Doemens Versuchsbrauerei. ©Doemens Academy