A Zoigl Community: A New Old Tradition of Beer

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By Sarah Kinzbach Williams

Zoigl4Eastern Bavaria in the 15th century was a great time and place to grab a beer. In the midst of the European Renaissance, this era of communal brewhouses spawned the Zoigl-style beer.

Characterized by community involvement and shared brewing space, traditional Zoigl-style beers were brewed in the township’s shared brauhaus, or brewery, fermented at home, tapped when ready, and served in the family’s garden or sitting room. In the six centuries of the Zoigl-brew, the concept traditionally stayed in towns of the Upper Palatinate of Germany.

Until now.

Stephen Guetersloh is lanky, relaxed, and as likely to discuss radiation physics as Eastern Bavarian history and the chemical reactions occurring in his most recent brew. The Bryan/College Station Zoigl is Guertersloh’s creation.

“Zoigl brewery is around a community, not just the taste of beer,” says Guetersloh. Surrounded by the traditions of Texas A&M University, German and Czech heritage, and in the heart of Downtown Bryan’s rejuvenation, the Bryan/College Station Zoigl is perfectly aligned to maintain the key ingredient to the historic Zoigl concept – community involvement.

“We want anyone who is willing and able to come brew,” says Guetersloh. “If you don’t know how, we’ll teach you.” From old school sodas and ciders to beer and sake, Guetersloh says Bryan’s newest brewery will try to accommodate anyone’s interests. With a simple partnership agreement, anyone can brew and have their creation tapped and served when ready.

Zoigl3The Zoigl concept has literature dating back to the early 1400s, according to www.zoigl.de. “Zoigl,” pronounced zoy-gul, is a German derivative of “zeichen,” meaning sign. Houses with brews ready to serve would have the community’s zoigl sign hanging outside to signify their home was open as a pub until the cask had run dry, says Guetersloh. The zoigl sign looks similar to the Star of David, with six-points combined to represent the three ingredients (malt, hops, and water) and the three natural elements (earth, fire, and water) necessary to brew. Even today, the five remaining Bavarian townships still operating a Zoiglbraurie use the town’s zoigl sign and open their home to share the cask.

The B/CS Zoigl will store the casks to ferment prior to serving in their private space behind the Square One Downtown Bryan Events Center & Loft. Styled with traditional zoigltisch – long picnic patio tables for everyone to sit together – the B/CS Zoigl will be ready this summer to serve the brews straight from the cask, along with locally catered German food, and live music. By fall, they hope to have mounted big-screens for Aggie football fans to watch the games with a new/old kind of brew.

“[We’re] trying to do as close as a facsimile to the traditional Zoigl as possible under the Texas legal structure,” says Guetersloh. The legalities aside, the concept is simple: community involvement brewing, teaching, and enjoying the company of all involved over a pint of fresh, local brew.

For more information, visit www.bcs-zoigl.com.