The birth and history of Clausthaler

How to change

The World

with non-alc. beer



Changing the world of beer forever

A generation of change

1972 was a year of pioneers. The first video game, “Pong,” was released, which paved the way for today’s video game industry. Swedish pop group ABBA formed and went on to sell more than 380 million recordings.

Changing the world of beer forever

A generation of change

1972 was a year of pioneers. The first video game, “Pong,” was released, which paved the way for today’s video game industry. Swedish pop group ABBA formed and went on to sell more than 380 million recordings.

That same year, a small group of brewers had a big idea. They set out to create a great-tasting low-calorie beer. But it took a sales executive to come up with an even bolder vision: why settle for a low-calorie beer when they could create the world’s first tasteful non-alcoholic beer?

A team was put together and the challenge began. Other brewers had tried to brew a beer without alcohol before, but the results were invariably undrinkable.

Not this time, though. In 1972, Clausthaler started the process that would change the world of beer forever.

The birth of Clausthaler

Innovation, determination, and long hours

The birth of Clausthaler

Innovation, determination, and long hours

Like Clausthaler, a number of breweries were chasing the holy grail of non-alcoholic beer in the late 60s and early 70s. At some point, most of them gave up. Clausthaler never did.

The birth of Clausthaler

Innovation, determination, and long hours

Like Clausthaler, a number of breweries were chasing the holy grail of non-alcoholic beer in the late 60s and early 70s. At some point, most of them gave up. Clausthaler never did.

Driven by a passion that bordered on obsession, the pioneers at Clausthaler were determined to make brewing non-alcoholic beer possible. But while the competition attempted to take the alcohol out of regular beer, the Clausthaler brewmasters realized that they needed a new strategy altogether. So, after countless long days and nights spent at the brewery, they came up with a radically innovative brewing process in which the brew’s fermentation was stopped just before the alcohol began to develop.

This process went down in brewing history as Clausthaler’s Controlled Fermentation. And when you invent something that will change the world, you protect it - that’s what Clausthaler did, they patented the brewing process. For many years, Clausthaler was the only brewery to use Controlled Fermentation. Nowadays, this method is used by other breweries as well, but no one comes close to the award winning taste of Clausthaler.

It was the relentless brewmasters that invented the Controlled Fermentation, they would stay up days on end, through the night, measuring, testing, measuring again, waiting, measuring, waiting until they found their own way of brewing a non-alcoholic that looked and tasted like a good beer should.

Clausthaler takes the stage

Crossing new horizons

Clausthaler takes the stage

Crossing new horizons

To create something out of the box, you must be in love with the impossible.

Clausthaler takes the stage

Crossing new horizons

To create something out of the box, you must be in love with the impossible.

When movies first added sound, no one thought it would last. When coffee was first decaffeinated, no one drank it. So when Clausthaler brewed the first non-alcoholic beer, they faced similar challenges.

For in 1979, the general attitude towards non-alcoholic beer was not exactly positive.

But the Clausthaler brewmasters had worked too hard to let their innovation go unnoticed. And once again, a spark of genius saved the day. Only this time it involved a bit of trickery: Clausthaler first introduced its groundbreaking non-alcoholic under a different moniker, as a Trojan horse of sorts.

The brewery invented “Prinzenbier,” sold as a delicious new – alcoholic – light beer. Behind the label, “Prinzenbier”, was of course, Clausthaler. Suddenly, bar owners and retailers couldn’t get enough of the hip new brew, and when the ruse was revealed, Clausthaler proved that it was here to stay.

How to market a game changer

It’s tough to be first – new is not always understood

How to market a game changer

It’s tough to be first – new is not always understood

The visionary team behind Clausthaler always knew that they would have to make the impossible possible, in advertising just as they did in distribution.
First, advertising attempted to market the rational added benefit of non-alcoholic beer.

How to market a game changer

It’s tough to be first – new is not always understood

The visionary team behind Clausthaler always knew that they would have to make the impossible possible, in advertising just as they did in distribution.
First, advertising attempted to market the rational added benefit of non-alcoholic beer.

“What? You’re drinking at work?” bus and taxi drivers were asked. To which they answered “It’s non-alcoholic beer, and it still tastes great.”


Another idea was to market Clausthaler as “The beer that police allows”. But this concept rubbed beer drinkers the wrong way, bringing up feelings of guilt.

The market research confirmed that consumers will only opt for non-alcoholic beer if it tastes like a real beer.

When it came to the next Clausthaler campaign the message was given a positive slant:

“Everything a beer needs.”

TV spots used a 'James Bond' and 'Miami Vice’ theme and showed active people sailing or descending down mountains in deep snow – and Clausthaler was right there in the midst of it all.

“Everything a beer needs”: that was the key.

The taste that fooled everyone

The beer that is not a beer

The taste that fooled everyone

The beer that is not a beer

There are some fine examples that prove just how much Clausthaler looks, smells, and tastes like a real beer. One of the stories that became a favorite among Clausthaler employees and consumers alike took place at a party.

The taste that fooled everyone

The beer that is not a beer

There are some fine examples that prove just how much Clausthaler looks, smells, and tastes like a real beer. One of the stories that became a favorite among Clausthaler employees and consumers alike took place at a party.

A board member of the brewery was celebrating at a wedding with friends from university. He brought two kegs of beer, one filled with regular Pilsner and the other with Clausthaler.

It was a warm summer evening and the party was in full swing. The board member, thirsty from dancing, ordered a Clausthaler. But when he took a sip, he realized that he had regular Pilsner in his glass - the keg lines had been mixed up without anyone noticing!

So he grabbed the microphone, stopped the music, and, with a chuckle, made the night’s most memorable announcement: everyone who thought they had been drinking Pilsner all night had actually been drinking Clausthaler - and everyone who thought they had Clausthaler should leave their cars at the party and get home by cab.

Pioneering a new brew

In love with the impossible

Pioneering a new brew

In love with the impossible

Behind every great innovation there’s a group of people with a taste for the unattainable. The Clausthaler leadership was aware of the difficult task ahead from the very beginning, but the first decade of pioneering the young brand kept reminding them on a daily basis: brewing a non-alcoholic beer that looked and tasted just like real beer was going to be a real challenge.

Pioneering a new brew

In love with the impossible

Behind every great innovation there’s a group of people with a taste for the unattainable. The Clausthaler leadership was aware of the difficult task ahead from the very beginning, but the first decade of pioneering the young brand kept reminding them on a daily basis: brewing a non-alcoholic beer that looked and tasted just like real beer was going to be a real challenge.

Luckily for the world of beer today, Clausthaler was led by a team that thrived under pressure. At its helm, Dr. Christian Zürcher had the skill and expertise to steer the brand into the future. Zürcher, Clausthaler’s head of technology, worked closely with brewmaster Rüdiger Gruß to translate Clausthaler’s technological achievement into the brand’s signature taste.

Together with their team they ultimately achieved their vision and created a non-alcoholic brew that looks and tastes like a real, good beer.