According to their own website, the owners of Bachweg Brewery are true craft beer enthusiasts: “The owners are true craft beer enthusiasts. The founders decided that they wanted to bring the taste and flavor of the beer they missed from North America to their home here in Switzerland. They brewed the first batches for themselves in 2013, made some mistakes, but kept at it until they got it right. The first official batches of Bachweg Brewing were brewed in 2015. Since then many thousand beers have been brewed and enjoyed.”
Read about the meaning of some of the names, who the six owners are and why there’s a barn on their labels.
Name of the brewery
Meaning of the name
Our first brewery was located in the small village of Edlibach, ZG in a small wooden barn (you can see it on our label). Beside the brewery ran the Höllbach and our street address was Bachweg 3! When we moved to Zug Altstadt in late 2019 we decided to keep the name.
Name of the person filling in the form, including function
Rod Sherrell, owner (one of 6) and part time brewer.
The brewery was founded in 2015 by 4 North Americans who missed the craft beer scene of the west coast. In 2018 a few more partners came on board. We now consist of 2 Americans, 1 Canadian, 2 Swiss and an Australian (some of us with Swiss heritage). Our brewer and only employee is Korean/Italian so we are a real ‘United Nations’. Our ages range from 28-60 so we really cover a lot of perspectives.
How much do you produce per year?
Last year we produced 150 hL (15,000L). With our current fermentation capacity we could produce around 240 hL.
Where can we buy your beers?
Sales is not our strong point! We are (or were pre-lockdown #2) in a number of bars and restaurants in Central Switzerland (Zug, Luzern and Zürich). We are also in specialty bottle shops in the region and now we have our own Online Shop. From time to time we are also in beer abo’s like bierliebe and smartbeer.
Who do you sell the most beer to?
We are fortunate that we sell most of beer direct to the end consumer, from our brewery shop in the Altstadt of Zug. This allows us to get direct feedback on our beer as well as respond to our customer’s demands.
What two development steps will you take in the next 6 to 12 months?
Due to the pandemic we’ve had less demand from gastro (who normally want a core range) so have been able to mix up our already diverse selection.
We’ve recently employed a full time brewer, Stefano, who brings a lot of new ideas to the brewery. We launched our ‘Experimental Series’ 3 months ago and would like to build on this initial success by installing dedicated small batch equipment for it. We’d also like to pimp up our brewery taproom, something we have been holding off doing due to the current situation.
In five years…
We’re not in it for ‘world domination’ but we would like to build a sustainable business. We want to continue to educate the population of central Switzerland on how diverse beer can be and that beer deserves as much respect as other beverages (such as wine and whisky). Our primary objective is to make our brewery and taproom the #1 beer destination in central Switzerland. As our brewery is a heritage listed location our capacity will be constrained at some stage, so a second location may be necessary, at least we hope so!
Information about the beers
Which beer (incl. beer style) is your top seller?
Our IPA: ‘David Hasselhop’ is our best seller. It’s a smooth IPA reminiscent of the classic West Coast IPAs that were part of the craft revival in the states, think a Stone IPA. We use classic hops such as Amarillo, Cascade and Citra to get a balance of pine and citrus flavours and aromas. Last year we launched it as a can for the summer and had great feedback.
Top seller’s share of total production
Around 30% last year
Meaning of the name of two of your beers:
Apart from tasting, its our favourite part of the beer development process!
- Czech Your Kolin – Zuger Blonde: This is the only lager beer we currently make, in the style of a Czech Pilsner. Kolin were a local important family of Zug, Peter Kolin was killed in the battle of Arbedo in 1422 and had various local landmarks named after him, including Kolinplatz which is just behind the brewery, with a very striking statue! There is also an English play on words, I’m not sure it translates to German.
- Blue My Load- Blueberry Pale Ale: This one is a bit naughty, I guess it’s a bit juvenile. It’s like scene from ‘American Pie’ if you follow me. It’s actually an outstanding beer and one we are very proud of. Unfortunately, a lot of gastro clients shy away from it as they think its going to be very sweet, but blueberries are earthy and tart, not sweet. It’s always a hit at a brew festival and with our regulars -watch out for it this summer!
Beerscene and #beerlife
Which Swiss brewery or person would you like to make a collab with?
We’ve never done a brewing collab before but it’s something we are investigating. Personally I am very interested in barrel aged sours and our brewer apprenticed at LoverBeer (IT) so working with a Swiss-French brewery specializing in that could be interesting for us, they are making some really great sours down that way. Or collaborating with a local wine maker could also work.
We like to collaborate with local businesses and recently developed a cheese aged in our Porter beer for 2 months with a local cheesemaker. We called it 2PAC (2-month Porter Aged Cheese)
Name a perfect pairing of a beer from you and a menu (ideally with a recipe)
Again with the Porter. We developed a Birramisu with a local restaurant. Basically take any Tiramisu recipe and replace the liquor with our Vanilla Porter! Also goes well with 70%+ dark chocolate.
My advice to hobby brewers
- First: find a group of friends who like to drink beer and are willing to contribute to your hobby. Better yet, join a club or form one yourself so you can trade war stories with other hobby brewers. Brewing is just as much about sharing as it is making the perfect beer.
- Second: Concentrate on perfecting a single (or couple) style of beer, something like a single hop pale ale – or a beer you are happy to drink every day. Once you’ve made a few batches you will learn from your mistakes and develop your understanding on how different process factors can influence beer properties. Leave the Milkshake, Bubblegum, Mango DIPA to the Omnipollo’s of this world.
- Read. A lot. If you are a uni-student, make use of scientific journals like Journal of Inst. Brewing or works by Charles Bamforth. If this is too scientific for you find something at your own level that you enjoy reading, material from American Homebrewers Association for example. The only way to become a better brewer is to understand why + how changes in your raw materials, recipes and processes impact the finished product and reading is the most time effective way to understand this.
- Spend money on cooling and temperature control. It makes a huge difference to flavour profile
Beer variety is…
what makes craft beer so exciting, it’s the antithesis of large multinational brewers. For sure IPA is still the go-to style but people are enjoying a wider variety than ever before.
Both drinkers and brewers should be careful not to trade variety for quality. If you find a beer you like, keep drinking it, otherwise it might disappear!
What do you hope for the Swiss beer scene?
That more people start demanding quality beer at their local bar and restaurant. That the word ‘stange’ is reimagined and beer is no longer the cheapest (or second cheapest) and least exciting drink on most menus.
What do you hope for the industry?
That somehow big breweries are forced to relinquish their grip on tap beer (they currently own or heavily subsidize most bars and restaurants forcing them to take the latest Rheinfelden dishwater) and we see more craft beer, more accessible to everyone.
Which of your beers would you have served to beer hunter Michael Jackson?
I’d serve him our first ever commercial and most underrated beer: Dead Peter – Pale Ale. Pale Ale’s often get overlooked for their big brother but, for me, this beer is our most well constructed and balanced beer, probably because we’ve been brewing it the longest. It’s the perfect balance between pale malts and C hops and a beer that I hope he would enjoy.
What 5 beers should everyone have tried before dying?
- A proper trappist: I like Westvleteren 12
- A proper lambic: Something from 3 Fonteinen, Cantillon or even Timmermans
- A barrel aged beer: There are some great examples in Switzerland from BFM or Trois Dames (now closed, but I have some in my cellar)
- Anchor Steam: The granddaddy of the US craft beer revolution. (unfortunately in corporate hands now)
- A beer from your local brewery!