If you’re cruising down Gstaadstrasse in Saanen and catch a whiff of malt, it can only mean one thing: Jürg Domke is at work brewing Saane Gutsch, a local beer that has transformed his onetime hobby into a budding profession.
A driving instructor by training, Domke’s passion for beer brewing began in 2014, when a colleague suggested they try their hand at making the alcoholic beverage. Domke bought a small beer boiler, electrically heated and equipped with a thermostat. It took two years before he was satisfied with the final product, during which time he experimented with various recipes. In Autumn 2016 he hit the jackpot, and the first bottles of Saane Gutsch were produced.
Some hotels and also a beverage trader in the region were interested and ordered the first crates. The requests became more and more frequent, with growing quantities demanded by customers. The business did so well, in fact, that Domke invested in a larger beer boiler and subjected his production to legal requirements and supervision.
Despite Domke’s passion for beer, expanding the business was no easy undertaking. Large production runs mean hygiene inspectors must work meticulously to provide a quality product. The end result is Saane Gutsch, a quality product that is being sold to the tune of approximately 6,000l of beer (18,000 bottles) per year.
A beer-brewing autodidact, Domke gained the necessary knowledge from different sources. He attended a course, steeped himself in technical literature, and sought exchanges with other brewers. His raw material supplier keeps providing him with tips and also serves to answer any questions the Saanenland brewer might have.
Alexis munier / AVS