Honestly, beer is not really my thing. It may be because my father’s generation drank mostly Astra. At the latest since a dinner in Oslo where regionally brewed beers were served instead of corresponding imported wines, however, I have become curious. In addition, brewing played an important role in Lübeck for centuries.
So I decided to do a beer tasting for the Lübeck ZWISCHENZEILEN at the shipyard quarter at Einsiedelstraße 6, where the Sudden Death Brewing Company has been located in Hall 48 since April 2022. An exciting new or rather re-emerging district of Lübeck, which we already visited once for a blog post last year for the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival. By the way, the best way to get to the Werftquartier is by bike, e-scooter, car or bus line 8.
Beer for all
Beer was less of a stimulant in the late Middle Ages and early modern period. It served more as a food, because it was drunk with all meals. There was a wide range – from so-called thick beer to children’s beer. It was (for the most part) healthier than water, because beer was largely germ-free due to the boiling of the beer wort. Also because of its high caloric content, beer served as an important supplement to the often scarce diet, since even low-quality cereals could still be half enjoyed in beer form.
Until the invention of modern cooling methods, bottom-fermented beers could only be brewed in winter or where the possibilities of cooling existed. Monasteries also played an important role in beer production in the Middle Ages: Monks were not only considered gifted brewers, they also liked to drink the barley juice.
Brewing in Lübeck
Lübeck had about 180 breweries in the Middle Ages and early modern times, where the entire brewing process took place, from malting the grain to bottling the beer in barrels. The city brewers were allowed to brew weekly. There were no restrictions for export brewers. They exported their beer mainly to their northern neighbours in Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Skåne. Supplies also went to Holland, Flanders and England, and later as far as southern India. After the long-distance trade merchants, the Lübeck brewers were probably the most successful and wealthiest professional group in early modern Lübeck. To this day, prominent places and buildings associated with brewing can be identified in the cityscape, such as in Wahmstraße.
Two craft beer brewers with humour
Brewing beer is therefore a centuries-old tradition in Lübeck, which Oliver Schmökel and Eric Nagel are building on in the shipyard quarter. These two men are behind the company with their ideas and passion Sudden Death Brewing Company – SDBC for short. Men with a sense of humour. This becomes clear when they explain what “sudden death” is all about. It is by no means the case that a guest drops dead after drinking one of their beers. No, in ice hockey sudden death stands for the decision of a game by the first goal scored in a game overtime, one of the most exciting moments ever as Olli and Eric think. And exciting was definitely the story that led to the foundation of the company.
The two were “gypsy brewers” who, while looking for a partner brewery, came across Brauhaus Klüvers in Neustadt. They had 1,000 liters each of a stout and a pale ale brewed there and personally distributed it on mile-long tours all over Germany.
At the same time, they began to look for a suitable location for their own brewing facility. The search ended with Thilo Gollan’s offer to take over Hall 48 in the shipyard district . The founders and their international team of 20 employees have been on site since January 2022. In addition to the brewery, a spacious gastro area was created in and in front of the hall, where pizza is served as a culinary special in addition to the beers. Sudden Death Brewing Company is open Wednesday through Sunday.
The brewery enjoys a growing popularity of very different guests. It’s exactly this diversity that the people at SDBC like so much: everyone is welcome here, no matter where they come from, how old they are, or what they’re wearing. The love of beer drinking and beer discovery is the focus. The relaxed atmosphere in the team contributes to the fact that guests feels immediately comfortable.
Olli and Eric have extensive expertise, which they are happy to share during a tour of the huge hall. They explain details about the brewing process, let me inspect the brewing equipment, show me how the bottling line works, and give me lots of background information. For example, I had no idea what an IPA was. Now I know: it stands for India Pale Ale, a top-fermented beer. THE craft beer, so to speak, that was created when the English wanted to ship their Pale Ale to their armies in India and preserved it for the sea route with more hops and more alcohol. In India, it should actually be diluted with water. However, this did not happen. The beer with the hop aromas simply tasted too good.
Brewing takes place 10 times a month in Hall 48. Each brewing process takes 6-8 hours. The protein-rich spent grains, is collected by a farmer from Stockelsdorf and fed to the dairy cows. It doesn’t get any more sustainable than this!
The beers, brewed according to proprietary recipes by the three-person brewing team from Canada, the U.S. and Belgium at Sudden Death Brewing Company, are now exported to 25 countries. France and Scandinavia are important customer countries, and deliveries are also made to Australia. The hall offers plenty of space and is ideal for private parties and corporate events overlooking the sparkling clean brewing facility. The SDBC also organizes its own events: in August, a summer festival is held over two days. A Sudden Death-style Oktoberfest is also being planned.
During the subsequent tasting with a view over to Lübeck’s Old Town, I learn more about the different beer styles, the purity law, what top-fermented and bottom-fermented beer exactly are, and how I can best taste the flavours. I particularly like “Not your Grandma’s Red Fruit Jelly.” A Fruit Sour with the scent of raspberry, vanilla and cherry. It was created in cooperation with the “Kleines Waffelhaus” located in Lübeck’s Old Town. Their vegan waffles are used for the production. Now in summer, however, the Summer Ale “Greetings from Sudden Death” also goes down very well with me. You can buy tickets for the tasting on the SDBC website. Of course, there is also an online store .
More beer – Fluent English
Eric and Olli are people who have been around the world and love to laugh. They really enjoy coming up with extremely long English names for their craft beers. Definitely they love to play with words. They can cite any number of examples of what their guests have sometimes made of the names. It is usually said that foreign language skills increase dramatically as alcohol consumption increases. But even people who order their first beer sober make a “Juice Willis“ schon mal einen „Juicy Willy“, aus einem „Tough Guy“-Ale einen „Touch my guy“ oder sie zaubern aus den beiden Sorten “Hit me with a brick” und “I walk with a zombie” ein “Hit me with a zombie”. Why don’t you try your English out for yourself while ordering beer at the Sudden Death Brewing Company in the shipyard quarters?