Bitburger and Sierra Nevada - a friendship among brewers 

More than 7,000 kilometers separate the two breweries of Bitburger in the Eifel region of Germany and Sierra Nevada, whose specialty beers are brewed in Mills River (North Carolina) and Chico (California). But the shared passion of brewing beers of the highest quality and with the finest taste creates a friendly bond between them. Both traditional breweries can look back on a long history, have been family run since the day they were first founded and are constantly seeking to develop in innovative ways. It's not just the art of brewing that's been passed on over the generations – the importance and knowledge of the best raw materials has, too. Because it's only those brewers who use first-class hops, the purest brewing water, choice malt and the best yeast when brewing who will end up with a beer with a unique taste.

With this shared understanding, the two brewing teams meet up and share their many years of experience, their intense passion for brewing and their love for the best ingredients in order to brew a distinctive beer together.

Best raw materials and craftsmanship – the secret behind the best taste

Two brewers, one passion – and the belief that they can brew a unique beer using the finest ingredients. It's no easy task, because they had to unite their shared ideas – in the face of a huge time difference and the distance between them. One thing quickly became clear, brewmaster Stefan Meyna made his way to Mills River – and with him the Bitburger "sealed hops" and Bitburger's own natural yeast, which left the protective walls of our brewery for the first time ever. Then it was off to be jointly brewed in the USA. And at the end of this trip – at the Springtoberfest on May 11th 2019 in Mills River – we will proudly be presenting our first beer together: the Bitburger & Sierra Nevada Festbier!

There’s more to come… because we're already curious to know what the Sierra Nevada brewers will bring over to Bitburg next year.

Jan Niewodniczanski

  • Managing director Manufacturing and Environment & member of owner family of Bitburger Privatbrauerei (7th generation), passionate brewer and creator of Craftwerk Brewing
  • Following an internship at the Bitburger Brewery at the age of 16, Jan Niewodniczanski tasted blood (beer) and after his Abitur (German A-Level equivalent) he completed various internships and traineeships at a number of German and American breweries (e.g. Anheuser Bush). He then went on to study a Bachelor of Science in Brewing and Beverage Technology at the Technical University of Munich. On completion of his studies and two successful years at the Spaten Brewery in Munich, he moved on to South Africa (South African Breweries), as well as to the Philippines and China (San Miguel Brewery). After his MBA studies in Cape Town he worked as brewmaster and in line manager positions in Pretoria and Cape Town for 10 years, before taking over the management of the Technics and Environment Department at the Bitburger Brewery Group in 2006.
  • Hobbies: Mountain biking, surfing, skiing, snowboarding, beer – “Making beer, making friends.”
  • Favorite beer style: It depends on the time of day as well as the time of year, and on the mood – anything from a classic Pilsner, through hoppy IPAs, to a barrel-aged triple.

Ken Grossman

  • Craft beer pioneer and founder of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
  • Ken Grossman’s passion for good beer began when a friend showed him the basics of homebrewing. He began brewing five-gallon batches of beer on his own and soon became a proficient homebrewer. In 1976 Ken opened his own store, The Home Brew Shop, and soon after began building a small brewery in the town of Chico (California). On November 15, 1980 the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. brewed the first batch of what would soon become a landmark in American craft brewing: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.
  • Hobbies: Hiking, bicycling, backpacking
  • Favorite beer style: Pale Ale

Brian Grossman

  • 2nd generation brewer at Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
  • Brian Grossman grew up with the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. as his playground. He has worked in every department of the brewery and now oversees the company’s location in Mills River (North Carolina).
  • Hobbies: Cooking, biking
  • Favorite beer style: “I appreciate them all!”

Stefan Meyna

  • First brewmaster of Bitburger Privatbrauerei and creative “brew head”
  • Born in 1972 in Berlin-Spandau, Stefan Meyna studied Brewing Science at the Technical University of Berlin (TU Berlin/VLB Berlin) between 1993 and 1999 and completed his PhD in 2005 at Professor Wackerbauer’s institute. Many internships and consultations for national as well as international breweries followed and many publications and lectures at EBC and WBC congresses, as well as at symposiums. After a brief deviation into the fruit juice and aroma industry in northern Germany, he worked as head of department in quality control at the König Brewery from 2007 to 2012. Since 2012 he is working as chief head of department for beer production in Bitburg.
  • Hobbies: Table tennis, brewing, cycling, film & literature, travelling, looking after the family dog and horses
  • Favorite beer style: Definitely Pilsner – “The hoppier the better.” – but from time to time also a Bavarian Hefe-Weizen (wheat beer) or an English stout

Stefan Hanke

  • Hop expert of Bitburger Privatbrauerei, craft beer connoisseur and brewmaster of Craftwerk Brewing
  • Born in East Germany in 1980, Stefan Hanke completed his Abitur (German A-Level equivalent) in 1998 and studied in Weihenstephan (Bavaria) until 2004. Alongside his studies he completed a variety of internships at various breweries, at Meissner Schwerter, Bitburger and Freiberger as well as at the Weyermann Mälzerei (Malthouse) amongst others. Following his doctorate from Weihenstephan in 2009, he has been a part of the team at the experimental Bitburger brewery since 2010.
  • Hobbies: Family, handball (goalkeeper), beer, “… or just chillaxing”
  • Favorite beer style: “Life’s too short for just one favorite beer style. IPL, IPA, Pilsner, Export – the main thing is that you can taste the hops.”

Scott Jennings

  • Brewmaster at Sierra Nevada Brewery and expert for unique beer taste
  • Scott Jennings joined Sierra Nevada in 2001 after visiting apprenticeships with Young & Co.’s Brewery Plc. “The Ram Brewery” in London. He holds a Certified Brewmaster certificate from the prestigious brewing institute VLB Berlin.
  • Hobbies: Cycling and motor biking
  • Favorite beer style: “Depends on the season and mood – but in general I like any well-made example of any style. There is a time and place for every expertly-crafted beer style!”

Matt Ruzich

  • Brewmaster at Sierra Nevada pilot brewery and the guy for unusal ideas
  • A brewer since 2005, Matt Ruzich worked for Boulevard Brewing Co. until 2014 before moving to North Carolina to work for Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. He has a certificate for ‘Advanced Brewing Technology’ from the Siebel Institute and is currently working on his diploma from the Institute of Brewing & Distilling.
  • Hobbies: Family, drawing, painting, hiking, reading, movies 
  • Favorite beer style: Lagers and Ales – “seriously though, Pilsners and IPAs are what I drink the most of...”
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