Brewmaster Florian Kuplent Of UCBC In St. Louis On The Art And Science Of Beer
Art and science are two distinct disciplines that don’t always see eye-to-eye, but for Florian Kuplent, brewmaster at Urban Chestnut Brewing Company (UCBC), they almost always go hand-in-hand.
Crafting a great-tasting beer takes iteration and experimentation, techniques in which Kuplent takes great pride. Dividing his time between four different locations while still trying to oversee the direction of the business with his partner, the Bavarian native has been enjoying the success and ingenuity that comes with crafting some of the Midwest’s favorite German-style beers; even if it means being less hands-on than he used to be.
“I do travel quite a bit now, with trips to Germany every couple months or so. It’s less romantic than what most people think,” he laughs. But he keeps his eyes on the direction of the company and its many pathways. “We always talk about new beers and any new projects that we have going on,” he says. To have that kind of dedication to beer, one has to cultivate some skill.
As a young man, Kuplent spent a summer working in a local brewery in Germany, where he fell in love with the industry and decided to combine his fascination of biology and chemistry as a brewmaster. He took on a local apprenticeship and completed a master’s degree in Malting and Brewing Science at the renowned University of Munich-Weihenstephan. From there, he never stopped experimenting. “I was fortunate enough to be able to experience a lot of different places and really enjoy the combination of the art and science of brewing,” he says.
He traveled his way around the world working for some of the most recognized names in brewing, including Anheuser-Busch, who regaled him with their attention to quality and process. But through it all, Kuplent honors the people he’s worked with who have given him a greater appreciation for the art of beer-making. “Being able to work with everyone in this industry year after year—it’s quite fascinating to see what sort of challenges they have trying to combine different ingredients to come up with something new. It’s really fun.”
But if you ask him what’s more important in a great beer—art or science—even with all his expert knowledge, he can’t really say for certain, except that he enjoys each aspect equally. “I think the art comes into play when you create something new in the first place for the first time, and the science allows you to recreate it a second and third time the same way. The creative part is fun, and I love the science, so it works well together.”
For Kuplent, who enjoys more seasonal beers, developing a product that harkens back to his hometown was important. “I definitely wanted to make something that could fall into that category of German beers because people really seem to enjoy them,” he says. “You can always plan ahead, but ultimately beer drinkers will decide what they want to buy. The biggest reward is when people come up and say that they really enjoy the beers that we make,” he says. “I think the most important thing is that people see what we’re trying to achieve here on a daily basis.” And if you can’t tell whether the beer in your hand is more work-of-art or science experiment, we can definitely agree that it’s a labor of love.
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