Felix Bollen, a third year student on the BA (Hons) Graphic and Media Design course, who undertook the Diploma in Professional Studies, turned his passion for brewing and drinking beer into a viable business; German Kraft beer.
Born in Germany, but having lived in London most his life, Felix embarked upon an internship at Steinbach Braeu, the local brewery of Erlangen, Franconia, gaining experience with brewing. He came together with his two partners; Anton, a Spatial Design graduate from LCC and Michele, an Italian business graduate, and his father to open German Kraft beer.Felix told us: “When the idea first came to me in summer 2016, my father and I believed it would be a 2-3 year project. We started working on concepts right then and less than a year later we found our final missing piece of the puzzle, the location, and we started setting up. All in all, it took a year and a half for us to be ready.”
German Kraft’s water distillation and mineralization processes allow them to create different types of beer using the purest brewing water. They are currently located in Mercato Metropolitano, an Italian organic food market based in Elephant and Castle offering food from all over the world.
We got in touch with Felix to hear more about Kraft Beer…
Hi Felix, congratulations on your recent venture! What’s been your role in developing German Kraft Brewery?
Apart from management, my role has been to undertake the design and marketing side of the business. This took a vast amount of research, preparation and ground work. I had to come up with a design language for the company. Branding our beer labels, business cards, invoices, business plan, website, social media, letterhead templates, flyers, stickers, crowdfunding campaign bundles, merchandise, glasses and taglines was a thrilling, but exhausting experience.
It has all come together and we are now open for business. I am still learning by doing, but being in this position has taught me a great deal about how much there is to consider and how important and valuable design is to any business.
How did you manage studying whilst opening a business?
I am still dealing with it as we speak. The business requires full time attention but luckily I have a great team including 3 partners, two of which are high school friends and a few employees so they can manage the place when I have deadlines. I am working every weekend though, usually 15 hour shifts, and whilst we still have construction work going on I try to split commitment to university and work 50/50.
How did your time at LCC prepare you for this venture?
My time at LCC has taught me everything I needed to know about design and how it is applied. I subconsciously always think about design, what works, what doesn’t and it has helped me with problem solving within the business even if it wasn’t design related. The whole branding and design that has to go into building a company was done with the skills I have learned at university and allowed us to make the brand the way we want it to be.
How long did it take to set up the business and can you give us a brief overview of the process?
I had already started brainstorming the branding and we had the name; German Kraft. We wrote up a business plan, found an investor, finally found a location and copyrighted the brand. In this time so much happened, from networking with brewery equipment providers to talking to researching everything on what is all needed to open a bar.
Two of us had 3 years of experience working at pubs but setting one up and running it is a different thing. We’re a great team and with the work split by 4 people, we managed everything quite well. My father is part of our team, he is our mentor and he has involved a water technology and charitable cause into the brewery so we can create fresh water for brewing and distribution purposes.
What was the greatest challenge in creating the brewery?
The greatest challenge is to learn quickly. We have responsibilities in fields we didn’t have experience in at first and you have to be able to learn very quickly to deal with issues and finding solutions.
“We’re proud of making honest and drinkable beers at German Kraft – no dry mango infused imperial triple India Pale Ale style.” — Felix Bollen.
What’s been the highlight during this time for you?
To be able to wake up in the morning, happy to go to work with my friends and to see people’s reactions to the beer we sell.
What else are you working on?
We are building the outside beer garden right now, which will be ready for spring so we can bring the amazing German experience to the heart of London, right next to LCC.
Where can the brewery be found and where will the products be featured?
The brewery is located within Mercato Metropolitano, a food market in Elephant & Castle offering 40 different stands with amazing food, especially the Italian food. We also serve great German home cooked food, but focus mainly on our beers. We always offer Heidi Blonde, our flagship Lager, Hopfen Kiss, the German take on a Pale Ale and a sweet weatbeer named Edelweiss. Our seasonal beers differ, but we also serve beer from befriended local south London breweries.
In what ways is Kraft Beer distinctive?
We serve our beer only fresh out of the tank or keg. Never bottled or canned as this would force us to put additives in our beer and filter them, which we’re not about. We also distill the London tap water and add the minerals that we need for every specific beer type.
So our water is as good or better than in Germany and since beer is 95% water, you will really taste the difference. We’re proud of making honest and drinkable beers at German Kraft – no dry mango infused imperial triple India Pale Ale style.
What is the meaning and message behind the brand and its values?
We want to show the beer drinker that with the German purity law, thought through recipes and good quality water we can make a beer of the highest possible quality and taste.
What first interested you in Graphic Media Design?
I always loved art and I was very creative from a young age. I found out from album cover art and posters that it was the work of graphic designers and I wanted to learn how to create like that.
Check out German Kraft Beer’s official Instagram page