Germany’s highlight: Fox River Brewery

Photo by Ina Tokarksi
Photo by Ina Tokarksi

Germany’s highlight: Fox River Brewery

by Anna Leigh Bagiackas
Stripes Europe

Home brewing has always been a hobby for Dave and Daniela Bruce of Fox River Brewery. Though this “hobby” has gotten a bit bigger—the menu lists more than 35 different beers and has become a whole family affair—the brewery still feels like a hobby. When you’re hanging out at their American-style taproom, you can tell that it’s all about having fun and enjoying your fellow beer-drinking company.

Located in the city of Obergladbach, a 30-minute drive from Wiesbaden, we drove through the charming town of Kiedrich (full of charming wineries and restaurants) and along winding, hilly roads to get to the brewery, which is attached to the family’s home. The name Fox River is inspired by the many foxes that have made the area their home and who have gotten comfortable and curious about their human neighbors.

The taproom is filled with natural light and beautiful wooden tables, chairs and repurposed church pews for friends to gather. We sat down and tasted a flight of four beers: the New England-style “Fresh Squeezed” IPA, a smoked beer (inspired by what you’d find in Bamberg, the home of smoked beer), the Nut Brown ale and a hybrid English–American porter.

Other brews on tap to taste were a Grapefruit IPA, Blond ale and Belgian wit. Fox River has a range of American-style brews, like their handful of different IPAs, sour ales, seasonals and a few “lawn mower” beers or session ales, but they also have European-inspired styles. In addition to meeting brewers around the United States, Dave’s beer education has included trips to breweries in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Trappist monasteries to learn about European-style brews.

Although the brewery opened in 2017, they have taken time to build it out to what it is now. Like so many entrepreneurs, it started out as a “garage project” and when Dave heard that there was an opportunity to start their own business in Germany, he was ready to scale up his operation.

He explained that they have a mix of German and American visitors who find the brewery through word-of-mouth, while hiking the nearby trails or simply discovering the brewery while visiting the Rhine River area. They also have a solid crew of locals and neighbors who frequent the brewery. Dave talks about how much he enjoys introducing his German neighbors to some of the styles that are not as popular in Europe.

They offer personal beer seminars (in German or English) to learn all about their process and brewing journey. On our own mini-beer seminar, we saw how their whole process unfolds, from the grain room learning about where the malt comes from, to how each piece of equipment works in making the beer and into the cellar where beer ages and is kept cool.

While the brewery reminds you of American breweries back in the United States, Fox River Brewery opens its doors and welcomes everyone: Americans, Germans, kids, teenagers, grandparents, dogs and any other traveler passing through. Of course, it’s about the beer, but it’s also about the opportunity to hang out, taste something new and find joy in each other’s company.

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