Jürgen Hopf fits the stereotype of a Bavarian beer-maker, with his traditional felt hat, rosy cheeks, and proudly protruding beer-belly. But Hopf has given Germany's favorite drink an unlikely twist, creating libido-enhancing beer.
And the potion which he created almost seven years ago, has gone from strength to strength. Sales of the bottles adorned with a picture of a woman removing her top now make up more than a tenth of all the beer brewed in his village.
But his invention came about by chance, Hopf says. "I work at a brewery where all the processes are automated. One night though, the system failed and I was called up to try and fix it as I live just over the road," he told SPIEGEL ONLINE. "It was the middle of the night and there wasn't a soul in sight so I crossed the road wearing just my little boxer shorts and slippers."
What happened next is something which Hopf describes as pure magic. When he entered the brewery the machine was completely broken and couldn't be restarted. Semi-naked with no sleeves to role up, he picked up a large stick and started stirring the soupy brew by hand. "I suddenly felt strange and I knew that this beer would be different from any beer we had ever made before," he recalls.
Bavarian Loin Cloth
Sure enough, two months later, the beer brewed that night back in 2002, had become somewhat of a local legend. Anyone in the village of Schönbrunn -- a settlement of 1,400 in the heart of the Fichtelgebirge Mountains in Bavaria -- who tried the beverage, reported a drastically increased libido. "Everyone I asked told me that they had not watched TV in the weeks," Hopf chuckles, "instead they had went straight to the bedroom with no time to spare!"
Hopf produced his "Erotic Beer" in ever larger batches. But each bottle is still brewed manually in the middle of the night by the 53-year-old brewmaster, who dresses in nothing but a scant, traditional Bavarian loin-cloth when making his beer.
Today, his brainchild has become one of the most successful products in the small village, which relies on agriculture and is home to only a few family owned businesses.
Although beer is commonly believed to lower a man's fertility, other companies -- such as the German biggest erotic store chain Beate Uhse -- have also tried their hand at marketing libido-enhancing versions of Germany's favorite drink. The "Popp-Bier," German slang for "F*@# Beer," with 4.8 percent alcohol content, hit the shelves in 2007 but was snubbed for its stiff price of almost 10 for a standard bottle.
Hopf's "Erotic Beer," on the other hand, was an instant hit when it was unveiled at an international beer fair in Milan, Italy, in 2002. "The Italian machos were absolutely crazy about it," recalls Hopf, whose name is almost the German translation of the English word for hops -- the flower used in the production of beer.
A Miracle Potion
Since its Milan debut, the company has branched out with its brand, selling "Erotic Beer" beer mats, T-shirts, bottle openers and beer tumblers as well as a special fridge, with the brewery's logo and a picture of a semi-naked woman plastered across the door.
At the 2007 Oktoberfest -- Munich's annual beer-swilling festival -- Hopf was told that his beer had helped an infertile woman in the United Kingdom become pregnant. His explanation: The beer must be a miracle potion.
The drink is the product of an unusual manufacturing process. After being brewed, the beer is stored in a special "Erotic Beer Cellar," separate from the other 13 types of beer produced by the family business. A special neon light is shone on to it, and the composition "Also sprach Zarathustra" (Thus Spoke Zarathustra) by the German romantic composer Richard Strauss is played. "That's the only song which works the magic," Hopf explains.
"My life has changed since my breakthrough in 2002," he says, "and I'm not only talking about my life as a brewer. I've been married for 25 years and I'm not going to tell you too much about my wife, but I can assure you that she's a fan of Erotic Beer."