Boston Beer Co., maker of Samuel Adams, will team up with a venerable German brewery to jointly produce a new craft beer to be marketed in Germany and the U.S. next spring.
Boston Beer CEO Jim Koch and Josef Schraedler, managing director of Weihenstephan, told The Associated Press Wednesday that their two companies have been working together for two years on the beer, which they will make and market jointly.
It has yet to be named, but will be marketed in bottles with corks instead of the usual metal caps. It will pack a punch, with 10 percent alcohol.
The Weihenstephan brewery, owned by the state of Bavaria, dates back to 1040 when Benedictine monks began making beer at their cloister outside Munich.
The new beer will also follow Germany's famed Reinheitsgebot, or purity law, which stipulates that beer can be brewed with only four ingredients: water, malt, hops and yeast.
"We're creating a brand, a product that never existed before, a very premium brand" Koch told AP.
"Beer can stand with dignity and respect with the best of wine and spirits," he said, without elaborating on brewing style or price.
Koch, a Harvard-educated, sixth-generation beer brewer with German heritage, said he was elated when Weihenstephan called suggesting a a joint project.
"No brewer can walk up this hill and not have a reverence for this place; this is the longest-going brewery on earth," he said. Weihenstephan is headquartered at the idyllic site of the original monastery — a hilltop not far from Munich.
"Nobody knows more about beer than Weihenstephan. There is more knowledge about beer within a mile than anywhere on earth," Koch said.
The brewery has close ties with the Technical University of Munich's beer studies program, located at the base of the hill — a place where Koch has sought experts and answers for his own company.
Schraedler said some of his staff was skeptical about the project, but were gradually won over.
"You need different ideas and perspectives sometimes. You need this atmosphere in which something new can be done. The first step is a long history. The new style will surprise a lot of people," he said, but added he doesn't expect Weihenstephan to become a mass-market brand.
Both brewers said they hoped the new brew could win more wine and spirits drinkers over to beer. They also hope the new project will make their other products more known in Europe and North America.
"Today the U.S. and Germany have two great brewing cultures," Koch said. "One that's emerging and one that's 1,000 years old. There's enormous creativity, energy and excitement about beer in the U.S."
The publicly-held Boston Beer Co. sells more than 21 styles of beer, and is the largest-selling craft beer brewer in the U.S., though has a market share of under 1 percent. The company is listed on the New York Exchange and its shares were trading near $39 Wednesday.
The Weihenstephan brewery was founded by Benedictine monks then became the Royal Bavarian State Brewery. It brews a dozen beers and is perhaps best known for its different Weizen, or wheat beers.