There are certain people with whom it takes an enormous amount of time to walk from point A to point B. And it’s not because they are slow or lazy or because points A and B are so far apart. Not in the least. It’s simply because they seem to know every single person they meet along the way.
Fred Scheer is one of these people. I got to experience it first-hand when I crossed the exhibition hall at CBC in Philadelphia with him earlier this year. Did I say “crossed”? Well, we tried. What we actually did was have an incredible number of good conversations with people from the brewing industry. So, I asked Fred about his background and his extensive network.
Fred, you’ve made quite a career in brewing. When did your passion for beer and brewing start?
My dad was in sales at Becker Brewery in St. Ingbert in the Saarland (Germany). So, there has always been beer in our house. When I was young, I developed a taste and a passion for it. When I was years young, I started an apprenticeship to become a brewer and maltster.
You had your first jobs in the industry while you were a student at DOEMENS Brewing Academy, even before you graduated as a master brewer. Do you still consider these years fundamental to your work now?
Yes. I had my first job while I was still in my 2nd semester at DOEMENS. They have always focused on practical experience. Everything we learned there has proved valuable. Something I especially like to remember are the lectures of Master Brewer Georg Zentgraf (Dir. Dipl.-Brm.).
Since then you’ve held different positions, as brew master, technical director, and director for brewing. Was (or is) there a particular field that especially captivates you?
That has always been brewing engineering and process technology.
You worked in countries all over the world before settling in the United States. What makes the US so attractive, so special for you?
I’ve been here for some years now. The rise of craft brewing was a special draw. It’s why I immigrated to the USA – to be part of the movement. I’d like to mention that anybody visiting and working in another country has to first learn about the local culture. That is essential if you want to be successful abroad.
After your time in technical sales and customer relations at Krones Inc., you were named Krones Ambassador in . What is so special about this role and what is it that you actually do?
As the Krones Ambassador, I represent Krones at conventions and at the MBAA (Master Brewers Association of the Americas) district meetings. There are up to brewers at each district’s meeting. I give talks on topics such as brewing, malting, and brewing engineering.
I also lecture at the MBAA’s brewing science course and the two-week brewing engineering and utility course, of which I am the director. I am very proud to have Dr. Weinzierl from Krones by my side. He is a great help to me in lecturing the courses. Michael Skroblin, Henri Fischer, and Michael Brandt from Krones Inc. are also very helpful.
Another important aspect is that I represent Krones on several committees, including the MBAA’s board and technical committee.
One last question: You’ve been in the beer and craft beer industry for quite a while now. How do you view recent trends in the industry and how do you expect the industry to change in the future?
The trend is as blue as the sky. About % of Brewers Association members operate at an output below 1, barrels per year, in the 5 to hectolitre range.
In , the number of operating breweries in the US grew by percent, to a total of 4, breweries. The numbers for are not out yet. But some concrete numbers provide good insight: 2, microbreweries, 1, brewpubs, and regional craft breweries were operating at the end of . So, it’s safe to say things are looking good!
Thank you so much for your time and insights, Fred. We’re very glad that Fred will be sharing some of his stories and knowledge on the blog in the future. Stay tuned for more from our craft beer insider!