India pale ales, porters, lagers or wheat beers? The craft beer market in Europe has boomed in recent years. That presents an opportunity for brewers – as well as adding pressure on them to stand out from the competition

Here Daniel Carlfeld Bjørk, Brewing Innovation Manager at Royal Unibrew, gives us his view on innovation, enzymes and the market.

Novozymes: Craft beers are popular. How is Royal Unibrew responding to this trend?

Daniel Carlfeld Bjørk: Consumers have more money, they care about quality and they want new experiences. We’ve been producing craft beer since 2015, and we’ve recently expanded our brewery in Odense, Denmark, with a microbrewery to focus more on craft beers.

My dream has always been to show Danes that beer can be just as good – if not better – than wine. It’s a unique product, a unique experience.

How does biotech play a role in craft beer production?

It’s no secret that the brewing industry is conservative about using enzymes, which many see as “cheating”.

I have a different view. If you want to have an effective process and come up with innovative solutions, enzymes are important tools.

Take, for example, a very dry beer, a Brüt IPA (India Pale Ale). It’s a champagne-like beer that’s becoming popular with some consumers. Enzymes enable us to produce this beer by breaking down all the sugar in the beer to fermentable sugars.

You recently produced a special craft beer with Novozymes. Tell me about this.

We teamed up with you to see what enzymes can do in craft beer production. The goal was to get as much hop-taste and aroma from the hop pellets into the beer as possible. The enzymes helped us break down the final 2% of sugars into fermentable sugars, which dried out the beer. This was not possible without enzymes. The result? An Brüt IPA, which tasted great.

Enzymes also made our processes much more effective. For example, the lautering process, which normally takes between two to three hours was cut down to one.

Can consumers also enjoy the new beer?

The IPA brut is delivered to bars and restaurants in Denmark and marketed as a unique, craft beer. We’re excited to get consumers’ reactions. One thing is clear, we’re openly talking about the fact that the beer was produced with the help of enzymes. I think that’s cool.

Looking ahead, what are your predictions for the craft beer market?

Breweries must innovate to stay relevant. But it’s a tough market, especially for the smaller brewers.

That’s why it’s important to have a good relationship with your supplier. We want Novozymes to continue to come up with innovative solutions for us. One thing is improving efficiency, but it’s also about helping us differentiate ourselves with special craft beers. New raw materials, new aromas, unfiltered beers. We need to keep innovating.