Malterie-brasserie Saint-Georges beer anchored on its territory

Malterie-brasserie Saint-Georges beer anchored on its territory

Jérôme Kuntz set up his brewery in old buildings, forcing him to deal with existing volumes to install his equipment, store his bottles… ©Chantal Pape

“At that time, there wasn’t actually a school where they learned to make beer. I studied biology and agronomy”. If Jérôme Kuntz has a precise idea of ​​his profession, he will be a brewer, he also knows exactly in what conditions he wants to practice it, “the old fashioned way”. And in the country”.

Under these conditions, it was out of the question to build a building in an industrial zone on the edge of an urban area and carve out a little more agricultural land… He settled in the village of Saint-Georges in Guern and built old farm buildings, which also imposes many restrictions on her in terms of space available for storage or availability. And so it is born at the Saint-Georges brewery.

Breton hops

Currently, the assortment includes three beers: pale and red, produced all year round, and summer beer, floral. © Chantal Pape

The brewer begins by developing his recipes, a dozen in total. “Blonde and redhead are produced year-round. I’m adding a more floral thirst quencher right now. People will then want to switch to something else, a darker beer for the winter. And they will be happy to find summer beer next year as well.”

Even Jérôme Kuntz does not hesitate to add aromatic plants, bergamot mint, black elderberry to his recipes… “Before the use of hops became widespread in beers, around the 16th-17th centuries.E century, monks put there willow bark or wild plants or plants collected in their garden”.

To each his own recipe

Attached to his recipes, he did not want to copy a beer that already existed elsewhere, which would force him to import the ingredients that make it up: his beer would be local, made from what he had. “But 10 years ago there were very few craft breweries in Brittany. And I had to buy the organic hops where they were made, in Alsace”.

The brewer grows about forty hops in his garden. © Chantal Pape

He also plants about forty plants in his garden, of different varieties, which he uses for some of his recipes. Then, to meet the demand from the ever-increasing number of microbreweries, a hop plant appeared in Brittany. Jérôme Kuntz, still under contract with his Alsatian supplier, sources half of his volumes in Brittany, a percentage that will continue to rise as local hop production increases. “It takes three years for a hop stalk to reach full yield. And plants can produce for 20 to 25 years.”

Tagged Nature and Progress

The Saint Georges brewery is located in Guern. © Chantal Pape

Saint-Georges beer has been referred to as Nature and Progress since its inception. “It’s an organic brand introduced by consumers and producers in the 1960s,” explains the brewer. “It includes specifications and an ethical charter and includes the whole activity, integrates the social component and supports local resources.”

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Local barley…

“It took us a while to reach cruising speed,” explains Jérôme Kuntz, who no longer wishes to increase volumes. “Now, rather than growing vertically, we spend time growing horizontally.” But if he himself dries the hops produced in his garden, he does not want to grow the necessary barley. “I have no mission to be a farmer: even if I only need 2 or 3 ha of barley, I would need more land for rotations”. That is why he works with a breeder about ten km away. “He sows around ten hectares of malting barley annually. I take what I need. And he gives the rest to his milch sheep. Neighboring breeders will also use the threshing floor to feed their animals.

… malted in the brewery

Although Jérôme Kuntz does not produce barley, he still decided to malt it himself. “In the past, all brewers did it. Then big groups got into it, especially in Germany and Belgium”.

In Guerno, the brewer uses the winters to get down to business. “We have a little less work to do. And the temperatures match it. Barley emits heat during germination, forcing it to ventilate. “In the summer it would be unmanageable with my installation.” Although it produces most of the malt, it also buys 15 to 20% from a maltster based in Saint Avé (56). “It’s an aromatic malt that adds another note to my beers.”

Yeast grown on site

He recently took it a step further by growing his own yeast, when most brewers buy it from large groups. “My microbiological studies gave me the keys to it,” says Jérôme Kuntz, who buys a pure strain once a year and uses the same yeast for his entire range of beers.

Returnable bottles

Once up and running, the brewery approached other producers to consider storing the bottles and reusing them after washing. “You need a lot of bottles to make a machine profitable,” says the brewer. At that time, the collective project collapsed. “And in my area three years ago I offered my customers to bring the bottles.” With one imperative: rinse them off as soon as the beer is finished. “Once the yeast dries out at the bottom of the bottle, it’s much more difficult to clean.”

Adhesive labels

The message goes through. And the brewer, who aims for the simplest possible system, takes care of washing and disinfection himself. The labels are designed for repeated use of bottles, they are not self-adhesive, but stuck on, similar to wallpaper. “I need to leave the bottles in the water for 2-3 hours. The labels peel off and I throw them away for recycling”. A time-consuming option, because the labels are glued manually, one by one.

The deposit was based on a voluntary basis and had some development problems. “Since the war in Ukraine and the energy crisis, glass prices have skyrocketed. And we’re not even sure about delivery in bottles,” worries Jérôme Kuntz, who preferred to introduce a €0.50 per bottle deposit before raising the price of his beers. “Since then, many more have returned,” notes the brewer.

Practical Available at the brewery, 11 Saint-Georges, in Guern, every Thursday from 17:00 the great oak, in Pontivy, as well as in the Biocoop and delicatessen in Morbihan

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