German craftsman's spirit passed on in Shandong
chinadaily.com.cn 2019-10-17 14:25:00
Gerhard Luthardt checks the production line at Taishan Beer brewery in Tai'an, Shandong province. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
Gerhard Luthardt, an 82-year-old brewer from Germany, has been working at the Shandong Taishan Beer company for more than 20 years.
Luthardt was born in the city of Cologne, Germany, in 1937. His parents ran a small winery which led to his interest in wine from an early age.
In 1952, at the age of 16, Luthardt entered a brewery in his hometown. From the raw materials selection to the products packaging, he began to learn bit by bit, in order to be familiar with the beer production process and master every step of brewing.
In 1964, he graduated from a research and teaching institute for brewing in Berlin, majoring in wine making and obtained a master's degree.
Years of active experience in wine making provided him with valuable experience and theoretical studies at the university gave him a deeper understanding of his vocation and the pursuit of the production of so-called raw beer.
As beer purists' delight, raw beer is regarded by enthusiasts as the freshest and most original real beer.
Raw beer is so called because it has not been filtered. Compared with other beers, the original pulp beer is not filtered in the brewing process and does not undergo a high temperature pasteurization inactivation process.
"It (raw beer) is part of my life, like the beating of my heart," according to Luthardt.
After living in Shandong for more than 20 years, Luthardt regards the place as his second hometown. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
In 1997, Luthardt came to Tai'an, a county-level city in Shandong province, and served as the technical consultant and chief brewer of Taishan Beer, which was the beginning of his 22-year stay in Shandong.
At that time, the Chinese beer market only produced ordinary light beer. "I think we have to make a unique beer here," Luthardt said.
The traditional brewing method for standard beer in China was to add rice and other materials, while Luthardt stuck to the "pure" brewing method of German beer which uses 100 percent malt.
In addition, Luthardt was also very demanding on water. "Water is the blood of beer," he said. At his suggestion, Taishan brewery moved to the best water source area around Mount Tai in 2007.
Last but not least, the yeast. To find a unique yeast strain, Luthardt embarked on a journey of discovery in Germany and China, and finally in Cologne he found a perfect yeast strain - the original strain of a brewer's yeast.
In 2010, China's first raw beer was born.
Peers say Luthardt has made outstanding contributions to the reform and innovation of Chinese beer, to the promotion of Sino-German beer technology and cultural exchanges, and to the sustainable development of China's beer industry.
After living in Shandong for more than 20 years, Luthardt felt that it has become his second hometown.
"My future may not have another 20 years. If I can't come to China again, I hope my original intention of making raw beer will remain."
Officials said that in appreciation of his contributions, the Shandong government awarded him the title of honorary citizen.