Brasserie Nationale

Mathias Lentz: “Our best year in 10 years for brewery visits”

Mathias Lentz took on his director role in the family business just shy of two years ago Matic Zorman / Maison Moderne

Mathias Lentz took on his director role in the family business just shy of two years ago Matic Zorman / Maison Moderne

Director at Brasserie Nationale Mathias Lentz reflects on a “positive year” following two challenging ones and what’s in store for the brewery heading into 2023, also in terms of international expansion.

Your father, Georges LentzGeorges Lentz, had called 2020 a ‘catastrophic year’ for Brasserie Nationale. Have you managed to bounce back?

2020 and 2021 were difficult years. 2022 was a great year. We had an amazing summer, months of pure sun. People wanted to go out and had enough of being locked in at home [and] were just happy to have events. Then with Esch2022, there was a lot going on… a positive year.

To what degree have you been impacted by material supply and energy prices?

For Lodyss water, it’s very local from a well underneath the brewery. For the beer, the hops come from Germany. The malt, [which] we get from Metz, has increased a lot. Electricity prices have increased, which also means the production for bottles, labels has increased. I think next year we’ll have some interesting challenges facing us.

Earlier this year you opened De BrauAtelier microbrewery at your Bascharage site. How has the response been?

Successful. It’s our best year in 10 years when it comes to brewery visits. We explain the different types of beer, how to drink it, how to pour it… [At] the actual microbrewery, where people can come and brew, we’re fully booked until February. It’s a small brewery, we’re talking 150l. We also have microbrewers that come [to] scale up a bit.

So there is a rise in artisanal drinks…

Yes, it’s very fashionable. It’s something that started around 2010. We saw more breweries coming to Luxembourg. There’s the CBBL [confederation of breweries and brewers] that has 21 members, but this varies from 2,000hl to those that produce a beer once a year for an event… Everyone who is a CBBL member can sell their beer in a Battin or Bofferding bar. Normally, it’s not a beer we produce, [e.g.], an IPA or stout… Luxembourg has traditionally been a big lager country… You have more people that drink beer, but people are also more aware, so they drink less.

You launched Lodyss water in 2020. Is the current market share living up to your expectations?

It was one of the most successful launches done in [our] group. To be honest, we didn’t expect such a success so quickly… It was a complicated start. We had started the day of the confinement. It’s speculation, but [we think] people spent more time in supermarkets, tried it and got hooked.

What’s your beer-to-water production split?

We do 150,000hl beer--split about 50-50, Battin and Bofferding--and this year we’ll do about 50,000hl of water.

What about your international market--any plans to expand into 2023?

We have two markets: the local market, which is the Greater Region. We have the same formula, price, strategy in Belgium and France as we do in Luxembourg… Then we have global export, which was China [since 2007]--which stopped during covid--and then Wisconsin… Then we have another one, our bestseller at the moment, which is Cameroon. Those three markets--China, US and Cameroon--are opportunity markets… What happened in Cameroon was the same as in China [and] Wisconsin: people born and raised in Luxembourg, or second-generation Luxembourgers, who went back to their country of origin and then decided to try and bring Bofferding [to their] restaurants or supermarkets.

It’s not sold at Miami University of Ohio?

Not yet because the US is a complicated country with different state laws… We’re working on it. I think in 2023 we’re going to go to Ohio--but it wasn’t easy.

This article first appeared in the December 2022 issue of Delano magazine.